Secure, Dynamic Networking in Operating Rooms and Hospitals: Commencement of the OR.NET BMBF Project

Beginning September 1, 2012, the OR.NET research and development project will begin with a total of approximately 15M euro in funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).  The goal of the project is to develop ‘plug-and-play’ standards and driver models to network modular medical technology components produced by different manufacturers while guaranteeing the operational safety demanded by the clinical environment.

Project coordinators Prof. Dr. med. B. Bergh (Heidelberg University Hospital), Prof. Dr. T. Lüth (TU Munich), and Prof. Dr.-Ing. K. Radermacher (RWTH Aachen) will direct a comprehensive consortium of more than 50 project partners from corporations, hospitals, and R&D centers. In the next three years, the consortium will develop technical and regulatory solutions that dynamically network hospitals and operating rooms and span across devices and technology from many different manufacturers. Rapid technical development in recent years has led to the creation of systems designed for many surgical tasks that permit completely new complex operations, such as those involving the brain. This development has resulted in not only specialized software methods, but also specialized hardware and even specialized operating rooms for each organ or kind of operation, each entailing custom-built hardware and software technology. In practice, preparing for a new surgery means removing hardware from the previous surgery and bringing in new hardware, connecting cables, and testing. One goal of the project is to generate standardized, manufacturer-independent interfaces capable of interconnecting all hardware needed for a specific operation, such as imaging, endoscopy, and navigation components. This process results in a kind of ‘hardware cloud’.

In the context of this major project, Fraunhofer MEVIS will develop core concepts for monitoring and assuring the quality of image-based information streams. A key component is the development of mathematical descriptions that determine the quality of medical images. These descriptions provide objective, measurable criteria needed to conduct automatic quality assessments of those images. The system automatically delivers reliable medical images to different application contexts from each respective manufacturer. Anatomical and functional information generated from image data play a large role in image-driven procedures and minimally invasive interventions, which are becoming increasingly important to modern surgical practice. Employing this technology to network the system architecture of a hospital demands novel concepts and tools that monitor and protect the supply of confidential information. By creating appropriate demonstrators, the project will realize a model implementation of a system solution for the operating environment.