Mind-Blowing Hoosier Medical Developments

Mind-Blowing Hoosier Medical Developments

We’re living in exciting times for medicine and health. The field is undergoing rapid advancements in treatment and technology every single day. Across the state, medical groups are implementing new methods and incorporating highly advanced equipment into their operations.

There’s a lot to take in. So, we’ve compiled an overview of several notable highlights to give you a sense of the broad scale at which progress is happening.


Mobile Training Simulation, Fighting Sepsis

Rural Health Innovation Collaborative (RHIC) simulation center. Image from RHIC.

Sepsis is a dangerous medical condition caused by our body’s response to severe infections. It kills more people than prostate cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined, according to the Indiana Hospital Association (IHA). It killed over 3,500 Hoosiers in 2019.

Currently, 30 hospitals in Indiana are actively participating in sepsis simulations under the state’s Small Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP). IHA is working with the Terre Haute-based Rural Health Innovation Collaborative (RHIC) simulation center for this project.

The RHIC’s traveling simulation and ambulance provides hands-on experience with sepsis and septic shock patients. The goal of the simulations is to reduce sepsis mortality and provide participating hospitals with specialized training and resources that can improve early identification and treatment of sepsis and strengthen sepsis programs within their facilities. Plans call for these simulations to continue statewide.

Through interactive, simulated experiences and open discussion of policies and processes, the participants are engaged in best practices for sepsis recognition and treatment. Our goal is for the participants of this training to take what they’ve learned and then educate the rest of their workplace,” said Laura Livingston, clinical simulation specialist with RHIC Simulation Center.


Muscle Pattern Recognition for Limb Prosthetics

Brian Roberson practices with his new myoelectric prostheses.

Technology is evolving rapidly in the field of appendages, giving those with prosthetic limbs entire new levels of control and function. The sector has experienced an influx of new capabilities over the last several years after developments in fields of 3D printing and machine learning.

Merrillville-based Bionic Prosthetics & Orthotics began utilizing muscle pattern recognition technology to enable greater control for patients with upper limb prostheses. Myoelectric prostheses are able to offer the patient control of the elbow, wrist, and hand. Users have over 20 grip patterns and individual control of the fingers.

Prosthetic control companies have developed pattern recognition control mechanisms that enable a more natural, intuitive control of the arm. The system uses modern machine learning techniques to learn a patient’s personal muscle patterns and then translates those into prosthesis movements.

At the time of this writing, there are only 22 of these prostheses in use globally. One is with Bionic’s patient Brian Roberson.

“This simplified control mechanism is a true game changer for patient’s as they can now more directly have their prosthesis complete their intended movement,” said Tony Gutierrez, clinical manager with Bionic Prosthetics & Orthotics.


3D Imaging in Spine Surgery

The cutting-edge technology and methods used in spinal surgery at Franciscan Health Dyer recently earned national recognition. The hospital’s advanced spine program includes the use of the O-arm surgical imaging system that provides real-time, three-dimensional images that register to the instruments used during spine surgery.

The integration of CT-guided navigation allows minimally invasive procedures and decreased recovery times, even in complex spine cases. Utilizing these techniques, doctors had zero infections in 236 spine surgeries performed during 2020.

Surgeons are now looking to incorporate augmented reality into spine surgery. Augmented reality allows images to be visualized through a headset while the surgeon is looking at the spine directly.

“We have come a long way with minimally invasive spine surgery, disc replacement, and safe spine surgery,” said Nitin Khanna, MD, orthopedic surgeon. “Working together [with our skilled staff] through the years has allowed for an extremely low complication rate.”


Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery

The cardiac team at Community Hospital. Image from Community Hospital.

A surgery that once required a complete opening of the chest cavity can now be performed as a minimally invasive procedure. The cardiac team at Community Hospital in Munster successfully performed a Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair (TMVr) last year – a first for Northwest Indiana.

Traditional valve replacement requires a complex open-heart procedure with a “sternotomy” that surgically opens the chest during the procedure. TMVr leaves the chest intact.

TMVr is a less invasive approach to open heart surgery that does not require the patient to be placed on a heart-lung machine. Instead under sedation, a catheter is inserted into the groin area and threaded through a vein to the heart.

The TMVr procedure was successfully performed in a specially equipped surgical suite called a hybrid OR. The state-of-the-art hybrid OR features advanced video integration technology that enables surgeons and anesthesiologists to view multiple forms of information simultaneously.

“Programs such as TMVr that benefit the entire Northwest Indiana community,” said Samer Abbas, MD, medical director of cardiovascular services at Community Hospital.


Rural Hospital Going High-Tech

Decatur County Memorial Hospital patient monitoring device. Image from Decatur County Memorial Hospital.

Doctors and nurses at Decatur County Memorial Hospital (DCMH), a rural healthcare provider, now have a high-tech way to keep an eye on the status of their patients from anywhere. With the hospital’s new patient monitoring and telehealth systems, clinicians will be alerted via mobile of any changes which may need to be checked for patients in the hospital or at home.

Inside the hospital, the non-invasive technology is located at every bedside. Patient vital signs are monitored from a central monitoring station and doctors receive updates on their mobile devices.

In addition, a newly released patient safety platform allows the DCMH care management nurses to monitor the health status of patients remotely. Daily check-ins including monitoring vital statistics and symptoms allow care managers to recognize and treat issues prior to patients fully realizing the problem. This technology serves as a cost-effective way to increase capacity for hospitals and reduce unnecessary visits.

“With this technology, we are able to decrease unnecessary visits to the emergency room, lower readmission rates, and increase access to DCMH healthcare providers,” said CEO Rex McKinney. “Sharing this data with a primary care physician can provide valuable information to guide the care plan for chronically ill patients.”


Robotic Video Game Lung Cancer Surgery

Robotic surgery. Image from Franciscan Health.

Doctors with Franciscan Health Cancer Center in Indianapolis have begun using the Auris Health Monarch Platform, a robotic technology and imaging software that can be used to probe hard-to-reach lung nodules. The Cancer Center was the first hospital to deploy the system in Indiana.

While there are a variety of diagnostic options currently available for lung cancer, all have limitations on accuracy, safety, or invasiveness. Such limitations can lead to false negative diagnosis or side effects such as collapsed lung and hemorrhage.

The Monarch uses a familiar video game controller-like interface and combines views inside the lung with computer-assisted navigation based on 3-D models of a patient’s own lung anatomy.

“This platform is more precise and provides improved reach, vision, and control during bronchoscopic procedures, thereby offering more hopeful outcomes for our patients,” said interventional pulmonologist Faisal Khan, MD.


Far From Done

These advancements in medicine we’ve described here are really just a survey of all of the incredible activities taking place the Indiana medical industry these days. There are so many others. As technology and discovery continues to move medicine forward, we can all share optimism in the notion that our state will remain at the forefront of a healthier and safer tomorrow.

Category Cover Story, Features