Toolkit for Innovation Safely Guides CT Surgeons in New Technology

Innovation in the clinical setting can improve the patient experience. While it can be challenging to introduce new tools and techniques into a practice, efficient navigation of potential stumbling blocks is possible.

Shanda H. Blackmon, MD, MPH

Shanda H. Blackmon, MD, MPH, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, will call upon her personal experience bringing innovation into the operating room during a session this afternoon organized by Women in Thoracic Surgery (WTS). Encouraging the adoption of new technology is among the key objectives for WTS, which offers fellowships and awards that help female cardiothoracic surgeons learn new skills.

“The process of bringing new technology and advanced procedures into general thoracic surgical practices is still uncharted territory,” said Dr. Blackmon. “It’s important that surgeons have a framework for making it happen more seamlessly.”

Women in Thoracic Surgery: How to Successfully Implement Surgical Innovations and New Technologies Into Practice

Monday, January 29
4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
Floridian Ballroom D

During the session, Dr. Blackmon will discuss an STS Expert Consensus Statement that provides a toolkit for surgeons and hospitals as they plan for the safe introduction and implementation of new technologies and advanced procedures in general thoracic surgery. Dr. Blackmon was the statement’s lead author.

She also will review her own experiences with innovation in the operating room, including the introduction of her patented esophageal anastomotic device, which was designed to reduce the incidence of anastomotic leaks in esophageal cancer surgery, and a patient-reported outcome app that she uses to help evaluate and manage patients following esophageal reconstruction.

The session also will address the importance of physician training for new or existing technology. Dr. Blackmon frequently performed robotic thoracic surgeries while on staff at a Houston hospital, but when she joined the Mayo Clinic 3 years ago, she didn’t have ready access to a robot.

Now that she once again has access, Dr. Blackmon is in the process of recredentialing herself in the use of robotics for improved patient care.

“Robotics is not new to me, nor is it new to the hospital. However, I felt I needed to retrain so that I could get my skills back to the level that my patients deserve before offering this technology again,” she said.

It is an important—yet often challenging—step to ensure that surgeons are up to date with privileging and credentialing for the technologies they use.

“When you are adding new technology into the clinical setting, it’s important to be transparent with your patients in regard to physician training and certification,” Dr. Blackmon said.

She emphasized that cardiothoracic surgeons have an obligation to deliver new technology to patients in a well-prepared manner.

“Just doing the same surgery you were trained to do in residency and never improving yourself, your team, or the technology means that you are not offering your patients your best,” Dr. Blackmon said. “We must continually be retraining and evaluating new technology. We must become comfortable with the continuous acquisition of new skills.”