What Does Robotic Surgery Tell Us About Medical Device Innovation?
Life sciences companies face increased pressures, both to demonstrate improved patient outcomes and to prove that their product or drug will reduce costs. A perfect example of how medical device innovation can reduce overall health care costs — while winning over surgeons, patients and hospitals — is robotic surgery.The leading surgical robots cost up to $2.3 million, but hospitals consider them good investments. That’s because of the ways the machines lower “the downstream costs” of surgeries, according to a recent article on the Fortune Magazine website. Robotic surgical procedures typically result in less tissue damage than standard techniques, allowing patients to heal faster, which minimizes recovery time and hospital stays. With the new health care law focusing on positive outcomes and lowering readmissions, this is one of the best benefits of robotic surgery.And the robots are very much in demand. Hospitals are finding that having robots pulls in more patients and can even result in an increased number of surgeries performed. While the market has grown significantly in recent years, this type of surgical procedure started off in urology about 10 years ago. Once the clinical benefits became clear, this method expanded into areas such as gastrointestinal and cardiovascular surgery.The most popular surgical robot today is the da Vinci, made by a growing Silicon Valley-based company called Intuitive Surgical. A well-designed, closed system of proprietary hardware and software, the Fortune Magazine article calls the da Vinci “the iPhone of its category.” The machine is so intuitive, according to the article, that children with strong video gaming skills take to the new interface better than (at first) most surgeons.A contrasting design is the Raven, a smaller, experimental machine developed by engineering professors at two university robotics labs. With its lower price tag of $300,000 and open-source model, the article compares the Raven to Google’s Android platform phones. By opening this technology to anyone, the Raven could spur even more medical device innovation and further reduce health care costs.Source: Fortune Magazine, January 2013