Basic surgical care is a luxury afforded by fewer than you would think. My project centers around the idea of giving those less fortunate a chance at life. This lack of surgical care often results in chronic disabilities that make productive employment impossible to almost certain death in other cases. In short, I believe the answer to this global medical epidemic lies within the realm of remotely accessible surgical technology.
Da Vinci SP
According to the Lancet Commission on global surgery, roughly 5 billion people lack access to safe surgery. These effected populations, primarily encompassing south east Asia and regions of Africa, have few options for surgical care. Centers are too far, lack proper equipment and staff, and when requirements are met, the waiting list is years long or too costly. I envision a future where no one has to choose between their life and the financial well being of their family no matter where they are.
So for my senior project I asked myself, how might we provide safe and affordable surgery for everyone? I believe the solution is remote access surgery. When the patients cant get to our facility, and we don't have enough surgeons willing to go, why don't we bring the facility to them. The Remote Access Surgical Pod is transportable medical infrastructure placed on location. With the recent accomplishments of remote access surgery, also known as telesurgery, surgeons can operate on patients hundreds of kilometers away with imperceptible lag time. If we can do this hospital to hospital, why not hospital to field?
As I envision it, the basic process goes something like this: The patient, after having been processed by on site medical staff and prepped for surgery is loaded into the pod. The anesthesiologist logs in and puts the patient under. Next the surgeon, or surgical team connects and performs the surgery. If any complications during the process of the operation were to arise, there is an emergency door for a staff member to enter and intervene, along with a chair and table for them to work with. Upon completion of the operation, the patient is then extracted from the pod by sliding the bed out and taken to an on site recovery area. The pod then seals and auto cleans using vapor and UV light and is restocked if necessary. Then we repeat the process with the next patient, the next surgical team and so on and so forth. Patient by patient, pod by pod, we will whittle down the massive backlog of people in need of life saving surgeries.
The pod itself consists of everything you might find in the operating theatre, minus the surgeon. From refrigeration for time sensitive supplies to a controlled climate to filter out any impurities or infectious agents in the air. Typically the power source would be that of the local grid, supplemented by a generator if need be. As newer energy sources become available or the efficacy of solar energy increases as it is bound to over the next few years, this will obviously change. The pod is supplied either on site through the emergency door, or by drone through the top of the pod. The separation between the storage area above and the operating theatre below allows for simultaneous restocking via the drone without interrupting the ongoing surgery. As far as the physical transportation of the pod, it of course can be trucked on location or even flown via its 6 attachments located at the top.
R.A.S.P. was designed with the third world in mind. It is my hope, that through partnership with world health organizations and perhaps governments in need, we will arrive at a solution to solve this health epidemic in a way that everyone wins.
I believe we as designers have the responsibility and privilege to shape the world around us like few others can. We must consider and include people from all walks of life no matter their stance economically, politically, genetically. Only then will we truly grow as designers, as friends, and as people.