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Vision of the Future
August 4, 2004
Ivanhoe's Medical Breakthroughs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Imagine being able to see and receive information on a computer screen as you walk around. It's not something of the future; it's technology being used at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. In fact, this new system could improve the safety of surgery.

When Vanderbilt University Medical Center anesthesiologist and OR Director James Berry, M.D., heads down this hall, he feels like a superhero because he can see through the walls. Floating in front of his left eye is a computer screen where he can see each operating room.

It's all part of a new system called Vigilance.

"Essentially, what this system does is it allows us to know what's happening anywhere in the area and the exact same time it occurs," anesthesiologist Michael Higgins, M.D., tells Ivanhoe.

Higgins, who developed the system, says seconds matter when it comes to problems during surgery. He has seen first hand how Vigilance saves time. He says: "We walk into a room and someone says, 'I was just about to call you,' and we say, 'We know.'"

Everything Dr. Berry can see on this computer system, he can now take with him. He controls what he sees on the floating monitor with a mouse pad on his belt. He also wears a battery pack and portable computer. "If trouble comes up, then I can go help and deal with it," Dr. Berry says. "Fortunately that's not often, but it's unpredictable. You don't know when it could be."

For example if a patient's blood pressure crosses a certain level, a pop-up alerts him. Through the voice controlled mini phone in his pocket, help is just seconds away. While Vigilance is about safety for the patient, even the doctors will admit it's fun.

Vigilance System has even caught the eye of the pentagon. Dr. Higgins says the system could be useful during mass casualties or even to treat soldiers in combat.

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