Through a Surgical Lens   

In the recent HITLAB Innovators Summit, Dr. Marc Levitt, Chief for the Division of Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction at Children’s National Hospital and founder of Colorectal Team Overseas (CTO), discussed the importance of emerging technology, such as TeleVU, and its impact on surgical procedures with HITLAB’s Chair, Dr. Stan Kachnowski. TeleVU Suite, a technology platform based on the iSee what uSee concept, is a connected digital health ecosystem that seeks to eliminate geographical barriers and improve access to patient care. TeleVU’s iSee, a support application that connects medical providers, and uSee, a Smart Glasses application that enables remote medical assistance through audio/video communication, has begun to change the face telemedicine through augmented reality to help patients, caregivers, clinicians, and health organizations.

For the last 25 years, Dr. Levitt has been very involved with educating surgeons regarding different techniques used in pediatric colorectal surgery. However, challenges such as travel requirements or certain credential restraints, have prevented the diffusion of important medical education to the global community of pediatric surgery and limited Dr. Levitt’s ability to mentor providers worldwide. TeleVU’s platform has eliminated many of these barriers and constraints, allowing Dr. Levitt a way to mentor others remotely, which dramatically expands his educational reach. Dr. Levitt relayed that in June of this year, he worked on a case in South Africa, where a specific surgical technique had not been done before but was very beneficial toward minimizing complications. While mentoring the operating surgeon from his DC office, 8 other surgeons in Johannesburg were observing the case through TeleVU. Through the platform, he was able to talk to them, share case images, zoom in and out on the surgical field, and telestrate remotely on the smart glasses to provide real-time guidance. Through this remote mentorship, he guided the operating surgeon on the use of the surgical technique, which resulted in the procedure being a major success. As a result, the child was able to return home the very next day and is expected to make a full recovery.

Dr. Levitt summarized his experience as being very user-friendly. The technology itself was easy to learn, with training taking about 30 minutes to complete. Yet, the main limitations of this technology include scheduling issues due to different time zones, variable Wi-Fi connectivity across the world, and the variance of image resolution as a result. Despite the challenges, these limitations were not substantial, but should be addressed in the near future. When asked if there was an economic standpoint or benefit of emerging technology like TeleVU, Dr. Levitt replied that while he mentors others based on a passion for helping physicians in developing countries, he is positive that other organizations would recognize the value and be more than happy to pay for its services. He mentioned that he could see TeleVU becoming an add on service for many places in the United States as well.

Ansley Bowen

Ansley Bowen

Ansley Bowen is a graduate student at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Ansley is working under HITLAB’s Developing Emerging Leaders in Public Health Initiative with a focus on integrating innovation into healthcare and public health.

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