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Intuitive Surgical's Latest Acquisition Is Just One Piece of a Much Bigger Puzzle

Data analytics will play a deeper role in the future of robotic surgery as evidenced by a panel discussion at MD&M West as well as Intuitive Surgical's recent acquisition of Orpheus Medical.

Intuitive Surgical has acquired Orpheus Medical for an undisclosed sum.

Image by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay

There has been an imeasurable amount of disucssion in the medical device industry in recent years about the future of robotic surgery as the market pioneer Intuitive Surgical welcomes an influx of competition into the space. One of the ways Intuitive is continuing to innovate in the field is through connectivity and data analytics.

Through an intriguing discussion at MD&M West, along with Intuitive's announcement earlier this week that it has acquired Orpheus Medical, MD+DI gained a clearer understanding of how those trends are being put to work at Intuitive to turn expert surgeons into super-expert surgeons.

Kyle Miller, MD, a physician innovator, leader, and research scientist at Intuitive, said the company is looking at ways to improve the operating room experience for robotic surgeons at every point in the continuum of care from pre-op to post-op. Importantly, the company wants to provide additional real-time analytics so that those surgeons that are underperforming actually have insight into how they can get better, he said.

That sentiment seems to align perfectly with the company's recent acquisition of Orpheus Medical, announced earlier this week. The company said the acquisition is intended to deepen and expand its integrated informatics platform. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed and Orpheus will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Intuitive.

Orpheus Medical provides hospitals with information technology connectivity, as well as expertise in processing and archiving surgical video.

“The addition of Orpheus will provide customers —including surgeons, patient care teams and hospitals—with ready access to and a deeper understanding of their data, which we believe may help our customers improve patient outcomes and lower total treatment costs,” said Julian Nikolchev, Intuitive’s senior vice president of corporate development and strategy.

Orpheus develops and distributes its clinical video management and analytics platform, which hospitals use across surgical disciplines. The platform offers the ability to capture and share clinical video and imaging from many sources, which may help improve physician and OR care team workflow and enable analysis of their interventions.

“Combining both companies’ innovative technologies with Intuitive’s global reach and resources will enable current and future customers easier and faster access to their data,” said Gaddi Menahem, CEO of Orpheus Medical.

Using his fellow panelist Christopher Macomber, MD, as an example, Miller explained how emerging technology like machine learning and automated performance metrics can create "super surgeons." But it's going to require acceptance by the surgeons. 

"If you think about a user like Chris, and all of these surgeons that have grown up with electronics and they've grown up in the digital age, I think it's going to be a willingness to actually accept some of the augmentation and trust it, so we have to get that right. Being able to deliver him the right information at the right time and augmenting his capabilities, so it's almost like these super surgeons," Miller said, when asked about where robotic surgery is headed. "If you think about some of the ways we can actually augment his capabilities, if you had machine learning whenever he's in a case helping him identify the structures in real time, giving him guide posts, giving him the safety lanes ... just like surgeons prior to Chris' generation had to be able to accept video-assisted laparoscopic surgery, robotic surgery, and now digital."

Miller also noted that Intuitive has been working with Andrew Hung, MD, at the University of Southern California, who has published several studies on automated performance metrics in robotic surgery.

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