Dr. Lina O’Brien, M.D.
Dr. Lina O’Brien, M.D. | Colorectal Surgeon | HCA Midwest Health
What is the latest and most exciting technological innovation in your field?
▷When I started in practice 20 years ago, I trained in an era of all “open surgery.” For patients, this meant big incisions and big recovery. We then transitioned into laparoscopic colorectal surgery, which provided great benefits to the patients, such as faster recovery. Today, robotic colorectal surgery is the cutting edge of new technology. The robot gives us more precision, better visualization and an ability to perform procedures that were not possible before, meaning we can help more patients. Robotic surgery enables us to do minimally invasive surgery with less pain, shorter hospital stays, smaller incisions and quicker returns to health. It is both amazing and gratifying as a surgeon to see what we can do with the robot and how well patients do! I feel we are at the forefront of more innovations to come as the technology continues to improve and develop. It is an exciting time to be a surgeon!
What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing health care today?
▷All of the amazing advances in medical technology and pharmaceuticals are life-changing and life-saving, but they come at a high cost. I believe our biggest challenge is figuring out how society is going to pay for that. This also translates into a complex insurance landscape that is difficult for patients and their families to navigate.
What is the one piece of medical advice you wish all your patients would follow?
▷Get screened for colon and rectal cancer! Colorectal cancer is one of the most curable cancers when it’s caught early.
What is the best advice you’ve received concerning your career?
▷When I started my training, it was really stressed to all us interns, and then residents, that there is no detail of surgery that’s too small. You need to pay attention to everything because everything is important. Being aware of the details helped us make sure that we picked up any potential issues earlier, before they could get out of hand. I’ve always found that to be true. Staying on top of the details means a better pre- and post-surgery experience for your patient and better outcomes. From the patient point of view, something that may seem like a detail to me because I do my job every day is quite possibly very important for the patient who has never gone through surgery. I try to look at all aspects of my work through that lens because my patients deserve that.