Just over a year ago we wrote about one of the biggest technologies in the surgical world, surgical robotics. A lot can happen in a year, particularly in a market revolving around cutting-edge technologies, so we thought we’d look at the developments over the last 12 months as well as what we can expect from the market in the coming year.
More and more companies are wanting their slice of the surgical robotic market, and we’re increasingly seeing start-ups emerging onto the scene, as well as larger players undergoing acquisitions to strengthen their surgical robotics offerings.
Intuitive Surgical and their Da Vinci surgical system are still one of the biggest names in the market, however they no longer stand alone at the top of the space.
CMR have had a brilliant year. The Versius surgical system was CE marked in March 2019, the first robot made its way into the Galaxy Care hospital in India in October and they announced their new CEO Per Vergard Nerseth would be joining the company at the start of 2020. Just today (20th February) they announced that the Versius system has now been used on patients in two NHS hospitals. Their ambition to bring MIS to the masses is well on track and they are set for more great things in 2020.
The predicted ‘massive growth’ of the orthopaedic surgical robots market is set to benefit companies like Stryker with their MAKO robot, Smith and Nephew with their NAVIO robot and Think Surgical’s TSolution One Surgical System. Whist their joint replacement robots are more niche than CMR and Intuitive’s offerings, there is high demand for robotics in the orthopaedics space.
Medtronic, who already have the Mazor spinal robot, also unveiled their latest surgical robotics system in September 2019, the Hugo. This system is a soft-tissue robotic system and they are hoping to have it CE-marked by the start of 2021.
Collaborations and acquisitions
The surgical robotics space has been full of acquisitions over the past year as larger companies seek to strengthen their robotics portfolios.
In October of last year Siemens Healthineers closed their $1B purchase of Corindus Vascular Robotics who specialise in a robot-assisted device for coronary and vascular procedures.
Johnson and Johnson have also been busy acquiring companies to strengthen their robotics offerings. Their Ethicon branch completed an acquisition of Auris Health in April 2019 who are introducing the Monarch Platform for endoscopic procedures.
Not only that, but J&J are also collaborating with Google on the Verb Surgical project, a digital surgery platform that combines robotics and data analytics. They are aiming to create an ‘end-to-end platform for surgery, including pre-operative planning, intra-operative decision making and post-operative care.’
Another year, another buzzword
Speaking of digital surgery… the latest development in the surgical robotics is the concept of Surgery 4.0, something that the Verb Surgical project is leading the way in. The term generally refers to digital robotic surgery that combines robotic surgical platforms with machine learning and visualisation. These systems can data track pre-, during, and post-operation to allow for the refining of best practice for robotic assisted surgeries.
With AI and surgical robots being two of the biggest topics in the meditech world, expect this to be a huge area of exploration over the next year.
The value of robot-assisted surgery
If we’re talking financial value, then the market is estimated to exceed $24 billion by 2025. There is little wonder that surgical companies across the globe are wanting to get involved.
Investment in the area is also showing no signs of slowing down. CMR Surgical raised a £195 million in Series C financing in 2019, making it Europe’s largest private financing round in the medical technology sector and allowing them to globally scale up the business.
Arguably, the real value of surgical robotics lies in the patient outcomes. Robot-assisted procedures accounted for just over 15% of surgeries in 2018 and this is set to increase as the systems become increasingly integrated into hospitals. These systems are designed to improve consistency and quality of surgical procedures which can reduce blood loss and pain associated with procedures. They’re also more ergonomic for surgeons themselves, making them more comfortable during incredibly important procedures.
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