Starting in the operating room, robotics, AR and VR are ready to reshape healthcare


About 20 years ago, the da Vinci robot was debuted by a medical device startup called Intuitive Surgical and surgical practices were changed in operating rooms across the United States.

In the first age of robotic – assisted surgical procedures, the da Vinci initiated patients undergoing certain laparoscopic surgeries with a promise of greater accuracy and faster recovery times.

It was largely alone on the market for a time. Since 2000, when the stock first debuted on public markets, it has skyrocketed in value. From the $ 46 million initially raised by the company in its public offering to now, with a market capitalization of nearly $ 63 billion, Intuitive has been at the forefront of robotic – assisted surgery, but now a new crop of startups is emerging to challenge the dominance of the company.

Backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital, new businesses are returning to refashion operating rooms — this time using new visualization and display technologies such as virtual and augmented reality and a new class of operating robots. Their vision is to drive down costs through automation and robotic equipment and improve the quality of surgical procedures.

“Out of a total of 313 million surgical procedures, 900,000 surgeries were performed using surgical robotics,” says Dror Berman, Innovation Endeavors ‘ managing director globally.

Berman is an investor in Vicarious Surgical, a new robotics company that not only plans to improve surgical procedures ‘ cost and efficiency, but also allows them to be performed remotely so that the best surgeons can be found to perform surgery wherever they are in the world.

“Robotics and automation offer multiple opportunities to improve current processes, enabling scientists to significantly increase experimental performance, To allow disabled people to reuse their limbs, “Berman wrote in a blog post announcing his company’s initial investment in Vicarious.

Johnson & Johnson’s $ 3.4 billion acquisition of Auris Health shows how lucrative the new surgical robotics market can be.

That company, founded by one of the surgical robotics industry’s progenitors, Fred Moll, is the first to offer serious competition to the technological advantage of Intuitive Surgical — no wonder Dr. Moll also founded Intuitive Surgical.

Last year, the company unveiled its Monarch platform, which takes a less invasive and more accurate endoscopic approach to surgical procedures to test — and treat — lung cancer.

“A CT scan shows a mass or an injury,” said Dr. Moll at the time in an interview. “It’s not telling you what it is. Then you’ve got to get a piece of lung, and if it’s a little lesion. It’s not that easy — it can be pretty traumatic. So you want to do it very systematically and minimally invasively. Manual techniques are currently difficult, and 40 percent of the time, there is no diagnosis. For many years, this has been an issue and inhibits a clinician’s ability to diagnose and treat early-stage cancer.


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