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Surgery Lab for Equity and Innovation

Innovation for collective action. Innovation for empowerment. Innovation for surgical equity.

Surgery is now recognized as one of the defining inequities of global health: the poorest 33% of the world’s population have 3.5% of the world’s surgical procedures. Today, 70% of people around the world lack access to safe, affordable, timely surgery.

The growth of Global Surgery has flowed from the landmark Lancet Commission on Global Surgery in 2015 and the growing burden of non-communicable disease, such as cancer, and road traffic-related injuries. Every year, 17 million deaths occur that require surgical intervention to save; every year, 4 million deaths are attributed to HIV, Malaria and TB, combined.

There isn’t a global fund for surgery so we hope to bridge this gap by developing innovations for surgery. The opportunities for digital surgical innovation and huge and have the potential to unlock new limits in surgical, scientific and social research and knowledge.

Accelerating surgical equity for everyone

Surgery Lab is a global network of researchers, specialists, and activists driven by the vision of surgical equity through digital innovation.

We are designing, developing, and disseminating state-of-the-art ideas and technology in the digital surgery space to promote collaborative research, digital literacy, and community engagement. This diverse collaborative includes people in fields including healthcare, engineering, business and design.

Surgery Lab seeks to mobilize experts around surgery equity issues to accelerate and advance access to surgery in low-resource settings. At our upcoming conferences, we will convene data scientists, computer programmers, global surgery researchers, global health specialists, and policy experts to discuss the central role that data, digital health and innovation can and should play in global efforts to strengthen surgical systems.

 

Vision

193 countries around the world share a goal to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. Surgery will play a crucial part in achieving this global goal. We are accelerating digital innovation to advance progress in surgery to make this goal a reality.

Challenges

We started Surgery Lab because we we couldn’t find any framework or infrastructure which enabled the acceleration of local and global progress for innovation in surgical equity. We saw three main challenges to overcome:

  1. Crisis – a global crisis in access to surgery where 70% of the world lack access to safe, affordable, timely surgery; 90% affecting those of poor, vulnerable and marginalized populations.
  2. Connectivity – poor knowledge-, research-, and data-exchange and infrastructure to facilitate communication between specialists, scientists and innovators.
  3. Capacity – limited surgery, technology, and data literacy and channels for the primary users and developers of these technologies, enabling full engagement in systematically shaping the digital future of surgery.

Values

We operate within three values:

  1. Sustainability – We approach digital transformation with a design mindset and prioritize locally-driven, locally-inspired, sustainable solutions, created through the empowerment of local communities.
  2. Social good – In a modern, moral world, we believe that no one should lack access to surgery. While we also engage in effective co-creation and enable the exchange of ideas, we are focused on building the confidence and capacity of local teams and promote the creation of surgical innovations that are designed by those living within the same communities.
  3. Inclusion – We place a heavy value on multi-disciplinary teamwork and diversity while building research- and education-capacity. We hope to accelerate a future where healthcare specialists work in close partnership with healthcare and allied specialists, engineers, business consultants, product designers.

 

Themes

Three guiding themes:

  1. Surgery equity – Our work is led by principles of equity in surgery, technology, and opportunity. While computing, big data and algorithms have tremendous potential to empower communities around the world, digital technologies can also be weaponized and wielded as an instrument of oppression – reinforcing inequality, discrimination, and perpetuating injustice. In the right hands, data are the most powerful tools we have to encourage algorithmic fairness, reduce bias, and enable opportunity for all.
  2. AI & Digital health – We focus on digital technology applications to surgery and their successful implementation in low-resource settings. The opportunities for digital surgical innovation are huge and have the potential to unlock new limits in surgical, scientific and social research and knowledge.
  3. System dynamics – Understanding system dynamics is essential to understanding global surgical system strengthening. System dynamics allows us to understand, design, and manage all parts of a system over time, using data and technology.

 

Work

We work in three broad areas:

  1. Innovation – We empower local and global communities to use reason to develop practice-changing innovations in any field of surgery related to digital technology. Founded by principles of sustainability, design theory, and effective altruism, our work is rooted in the scientific method, evidence, and open inquiry. Computational methods and scientific excellence are fundamental to our efforts, promoting knowledge exchange and supporting collaborative and inclusive development in the digital space. These technologies aim to serve the health of local and global communities by building the future of surgical care that is more predictive, preventative and personalized.
  2. Education – We develop curricula, training, and hands-on workshops within local communities, data and social scientists, healthcare specialists, and journalists to enhance their willingness and ability to shape the surgery revolution, driven by innovation and equity. With the emergence of digital technologies, artificial intelligence and computational healthcare, data literacy is an essential core and element of future surgeons, surgical teams and surgical systems. Tools like data visualization, crowd-sourcing, and big data analytics are powerful instruments for promoting change through collaborative action and civic engagement. Our content crosses boundaries, builds bridges between surgical and health professionals, data and computer scientists, and experts in policy, reform and health equity.
  3. Research – We combine the unique strengthens of our members, partners, and network to analyze the applications and implications of digital innovation for surgical care for everyone. Through developing research capacity, we contribute to high-quality research, commentary, and science communication and promote digital technologies by joining the discussion and actively ensure that all voices are heard. We are involved in policy debates, partnership and grassroots advocacy efforts to promote a digital revolution that reflects the core values of equity and empowerment.

Some of our areas of focus for innovation-, education-, research- capacity building include:

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies;
  • Disease diagnostics, prognostics, prediction and classification;
  • Telemedicine;
  • Virtual healthcare;
  • Computational medicine;
  • Biomedical analytics;
  • Healthcare systems engineering;
  • Data management, storage, and security in healthcare;
  • Clinical engineering;
  • Digital clinical trials;
  • Wearable technology;
  • mHealth.