But Verb Surgical, J&J’s joint venture with Google parent Alphabet‘s (NSDQ:GOOGL) Verily Life Sciences, will be looking to produce a system that is truly robotic, and that will help improve surgical outcomes worldwide.
According to Pruden, speaking with MassDevice.com at AdvaMed’s 2016 annual meeting in Minneapolis this week, he and Verily CEO Andrew Conrad set out to assess the field of robotic surgery. The fast-growing sector is dominated by Intuitive Surgical (NSDQ:ISRG) and its da Vinci system.
“We went out and looked at the market, and after, [Conrad] came back and said, ‘That’s not a robot,’” Pruden told us. “All that is is an extension of the physician’s eyes and hands. A robot is supposed to tell you valuable information that’s going to help guide you, it will do some things automatically for you. It will use Big Data, it would use anatomical recognition software, things of that nature, which are currently not available today.”
Verb Surgical will look to implement a “transformative agenda’ in the field of robotics,” with the goal of “democratizing surgery,” according to Pruden.
In Pruden’s words, that means improving surgical outcomes through the use of advanced robotics and informatics that puts the skill of the top 5% of surgeons in hospitals worldwide.
“The top 5% of surgeons can do things that the other 95% just can’t do, in terms of improving outcomes and procedures. If you travel around the world, it gets worse. If you go to Shanghai, quality of care is actually quite good, at the Shanghai Hospital. You go to Albert Einstein in Brazil, quality of care is pretty good. Go 40 kilometers north [in] either one of those locations, not so good,” Pruden said. “Our goal is to democratize surgery, to raise the standard of care by providing surgeon informatics, tools at the point of surgical care that will influence the outcome. We think that’s going to be the important tipping point.”
Although other surgical systems may improve outcomes for specific surgeries, Pruden and global R&D head Martin Fitchet told us they want to see more from a truly robotic surgery platform.
Current iterations merely improve the dexterity and precision of surgeons, according to Pruden and Fitchet, but that only applies to a limited number of surgeons and an even more select set of procedures.
“We want to take it to the next level, and if we manage to deliver a system which is built on making better decisions based on advanced analytics, analyzing every decision that was taken by every machine as it’s done,” Fitchet explained, “we bring the opportunity to bring the level of outcomes up as well, meaning every surgeon can get the results of those high operators in say the top 5% of their field.”
More information on the system is expected to be released by the end of the year, Pruden said.
Go inside the Google/JNJ collaboration Dec. 12 with Verb Surgical CEO Scott Huennekens at our DeviceTalks West event in Newport Beach, Calif.