Oct 09

Factors influencing the adoption of robotic surgery

Introduction October 9, 2017 260 0 By - Dr. Terry Loftus, MD, MBA, FACS

Welcome to the first blog post by the Robotic Surgery Today! Team. Through this blog, our in-house editorial team and with the support of various guest writers will be providing you with insights into the technological, social, economic, legal and ethical challenges and opportunities in the robotic surgery space. These trends and developments are shaping public opinion, the regulatory and policy landscape, and influencing innovation as well as the competitiveness and profitability of firms operating in this market. These are among the factors influencing the adoption of robotic surgery.

An understanding of these trends and forces is invaluable to persons in a range of circumstances. Perhaps you are a hospital CEO, board member or government policy-maker considering whether the purchase of a robotic surgery system represents good value for your organization? How might robotic surgery impact your operating costs and profits? Will being able to offer robotic surgery be a strategic advantage helping your healthcare facility to attract more patients and also attract and retain better trained, technically savvy medical staff? What are the career prospects in this field? (You can send us information about job openings we’ll be happy to post them on our site!)

Maybe you are a discerning investor focused on this relatively new, but rapidly growing high-tech sector and trying to keep abreast of investing opportunities in the sector. Various analysts are expecting double-digit growth from now until 2025 with some analysts expecting the robotic surgery market to have a value of around US$20 Billion by 2021. So which are the leading companies in this sector and who are the fast upcoming innovators? In which regions of the world are growth prospects most attractive? What are the entry barriers to new firms? Or are there some particularly nimble firms ready to further disrupt this field and overtake the first-movers?

Perhaps you are a tech-buff and just looking to find out more about this field and are fascinated by the idea of surgical robots as a medical information platform that exemplifies key ideas that Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson address in their best-selling books Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future and The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.

…Or perhaps you or someone you know requires a medical intervention and are seeking to learn more about robotic surgery option? We do not provide medical advice and recommend that you consult with a certified health provider. Invariably through the various news stories and resources you come across on our site, you’ll hear the experiences of patients. You will also get exposed to some of the healthcare policy debates and research into cost/benefits and efficacy of patient health system outcomes.  No doubt, you will come across the terminology and jargon used in this field. You will identify areas of consensus as well as opposing viewpoints that  healthcare professionals in different parts of the country and around the world have on this new technology. This increased awareness may enable you to have a more informed discussion with your medical provider. Already increased awareness of robotic surgery among patients and availability of these machine are proving to be a factors influencing the adoption of robotic surgery.

Robotic surgery is transforming healthcare. It involves the use of computer-controlled systems (surgical robots) that can perform complex surgeries. While they can operate autonomously, surgical robots typically assist/support surgeons in carrying out operations. The use of surgical robots has been credited with enhancing the success of delicate and complex operations like brain, prostate, retinal and spinal surgery with improved patient outcomes; less blood loss during operations; less pain; fewer complications, including lowered risks of infection; faster recovery times as well as offering aesthetic benefits such as minimal scarring. These  represent important cost, aesthetic and safety factors influencing the adoption of robotic surgery.

At the same time however, the high initial cost of robots – over $1 Million per unit in some cases – and high ongoing annual maintenance costs represent a challenge to their wider adoption especially in developing countries. Surgeons also require new skill sets and extensive training to be able to use these robots effectively. At present there are only a very small number of companies whose surgical robots have been approved for public use, so the field has some monopolistic characteristics. There is a dearth of randomized studies comparing robotic surgery outcomes with traditional procedures. Ethical and public safety concerns about the degree of autonomy of surgical robots as well as concerns about their safety  as well as their susceptibility to hacking and other cyber risks gives rise to public policy questions about the responsibility of doctors, hospitals as well as manufacturers and debate around the regulation of these new technologies. Not surprizingly, investor are also seeking greater understanding of potential risks. We can expect challenges similar to those around technology adoption, public acceptance and the regulation of driver-less cars. Clearly there are a complex and interrelated set of factors influencing the adoption of robotic surgery.

According to various studies, the surgical robotics market may account for as much as 65% of the medical robotics market today. This market is thought to have a value of some US$3.5 Billion in 2014 and on its current trajectory is expected to grow at double digits and triple in value by 2022.

The ability to enhance healthcare, the growing global demand for healthcare coupled with rising affluence of populous emerging markets in regions such as Asia and the Middle East signal the profitability potential of robotic surgery. We are also witnessing companies like Johnson & Johnson and Google enter a field which so far has been dominated by a handful of smaller but highly innovative medical technology firms. The resources, track record and global innovation ecosystems that firms like Google and Johnson & Johnson will bring to this field is likely to influence not only the pace of innovation but also the public policy debate on cost, regulation and acceptance of robotic surgery. Furthermore, the likely rapid growth and consolidation of this market is likely to be a boon for investors and an important factors influencing the adoption of robotic surgery firms as an important component of investment portfolios.

At the same time, ongoing developments in fields such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, big data, deep learning, robotics and improvement in haptics (human-machine interactions) as well as the anticipated arrival of 5th Generation Wireless Networks (5G) can also be expected to offer significant advances to the surgical robotics field and provide important economic tailwinds.

Through our weekly blog, daily newsletter as well as our twitter and other social media feeds we will bring you a selection of global events and trends impacting this sector as well as insights from thought leaders. Through our ongoing coverage we will keep you informed of the factors influencing the adoption of robotic surgery. Our goal is to make Robotic Surgery Today! your trusted and balanced source of information on this promising sector. Drop us a line, let us know how we are doing and send us your suggestions for how we can enhance the value we create for you.

The Team at Robotic Surgery Today!

Dr. Terry Loftus, MD, MBA, FACS
Dr. Terry Loftus, MD, MBA, FACS
President at Loftus Health

Dr. Terry Loftus is the President of Loftus Health a healthcare consulting company committed to educating physician leaders on how to successfully implement programs that improve the delivery of healthcare. Prior to this, Dr. Loftus was the Medical Director of Surgical Services & Clinical Resources for Banner Health in Phoenix, Arizona. His undergrad work and MBA are from Arizona State University and his Medical Degree is from the University of Arizona. He completed a residency in General Surgery at the University of Utah and a Trauma Surgery and Surgical Critical Care Fellowship at the University of Maryland’s R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Loftus is also a graduate of the Advanced Training Program for Executives and Quality Improvement Leaders sponsored by Intermountain Healthcare’s Institute for Healthcare Delivery Research. Dr. Loftus has served in various leadership roles including Chief Medical Officer as well as a Medical Director of a Surgical Intensive Care and a Level 1 Trauma Center. He is board certified in General Surgery and Surgical Critical Care, and is a Fellow in the American College of Surgery.


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