How do you recognize true pioneers? They’re the ones with arrows in their backs. Early tech adopters fully expect glitches, bugs, and even the occasional failure or system reboot. Innovative medical tech doesn’t work like that, thank goodness. After medical tech passes its experimental, trial, and pilot levels and gets CE and/or FDA approval, the product has to work as promised. Surgical robotics gets to the nub. If technology cuts, burns, ablates, or stitches within a living human, the core Hippocratic medical principal of doing no harm is paramount.
Because surgical robotics cuts to the implementation quick, we were interested to note that a Connecticut healthcare network touts its leadership role in robotic-assisted surgery. Hartford HealthCare (HHC) recently started using ExcelsiusGPS, a robotic surgical guidance system for spine procedures. ExcelsiusGPS gained FDA approval in August 2017. The system combines robotics and navigation to visualize instrument positioning and screw placement following a surgeon’s plan. ExcelsiusGPS also assists with preoperative CT, intraoperative CT, and fluoroscopic imaging.
ExcelsiusGPS isn’t HHC’s first surgical robotics implementation. According to an HHC release, Hartford HealthCare “has been using the da Vinci Surgical System for several years.” In March 2017, HHC was the first healthcare system in the Northeast to use the Mazor X robotic-assisted surgical guidance system. In these still-early days of surgical robotics, institutional experience counts a lot. It sounds like Hartford HealthCare is intent on building its leadership position. That role potentially benefits the robotic tech industry with the medical equivalent of social proof while bolstering HHC’s reputation for medical innovation at the same time. The greatest potential for good remains for patients who receive less invasive, effective surgical treatment.