Implementation of the Operating Room Black Box Research Program at the Ottawa Hospital Through Patient, Clinical, and Organizational Engagement: Case Study

J Med Internet Res. 2021 Mar 16;23(3):e15443. doi: 10.2196/15443.


Background: A large proportion of surgical patient harm is preventable; yet, our ability to systematically learn from these incidents and improve clinical practice remains limited. The Operating Room Black Box was developed to address the need for comprehensive assessments of clinical performance in the operating room. It captures synchronized audio, video, patient, and environmental clinical data in real time, which are subsequently analyzed by a combination of expert raters and software-based algorithms. Despite its significant potential to facilitate research and practice improvement, there are many potential implementation challenges at the institutional, clinician, and patient level. This paper summarizes our approach to implementation of the Operating Room Black Box at a large academic Canadian center.

Objective: We aimed to contribute to the development of evidence-based best practices for implementing innovative technology in the operating room for direct observation of the clinical performance by using the case of the Operating Room Black Box. Specifically, we outline the systematic approach to the Operating Room Black Box implementation undertaken at our center.

Methods: Our implementation approach included seeking support from hospital leadership; building frontline support and a team of champions among patients, nurses, anesthesiologists, and surgeons; accounting for stakeholder perceptions using theory-informed qualitative interviews; engaging patients; and documenting the implementation process, including barriers and facilitators, using the consolidated framework for implementation research.

Results: During the 12-month implementation period, we conducted 23 stakeholder engagement activities with over 200 participants. We recruited 10 clinician champions representing nursing, anesthesia, and surgery. We formally interviewed 15 patients and 17 perioperative clinicians and identified key themes to include in an information campaign run as part of the implementation process. Two patient partners were engaged and advised on communications as well as grant and protocol development. Many anticipated and unanticipated challenges were encountered at all levels. Implementation was ultimately successful, with the Operating Room Black Box installed in August 2018, and data collection beginning shortly thereafter.

Conclusions: This paper represents the first step toward evidence-guided implementation of technologies for direct observation of performance for research and quality improvement in surgery. With technology increasingly being used in health care settings, the health care community should aim to optimize implementation processes in the best interest of health care professionals and patients.

Keywords: health personnel; implementation science; operating rooms; patient safety; quality improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Health Personnel*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Operating Rooms*
  • Stakeholder Participation