Healthcare // Clinical Information Systems
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11/15/2013
08:00 AM
David F Carr
David F Carr
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Surgical Robots: Look Who's Coming To The OR

Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci system dominates the field, but it doesn't have a lock on innovation. Take a look at present and future surgical robots.
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Robotics patent race 
Healthcare robotics is in a period of intense research and development, with many patent applications revealing concepts for new surgical robots under development.

Yet the most significant patent portfolio so far is the one held by Intuitive Surgical, maker of the Da Vinci system. Shown here is a drawing from Intuitive's patent on a 'Cooperative minimally invasive telesurgical system.' In 2003, Intuitive merged with Computer Motion Inc. -- which had previously sued Intuitive for patent infringement -- and since then their combined patent portfolio has been one factor in fending off potential rivals. Computer Motion's Zeus surgical robotics system was subsequently phased out.

'Since that time, it's been a one-horse race,' said John Hargrove, CEO of Titan Medical, which is in the process of preparing to bring its own surgical robot to market, with a design that Titan believes is sufficiently distinct from that of the da Vinci to avoid infringement claims.

Titan invented the 'single-port' design, as opposed to the da Vinci's original 'dual-port' design, meaning it's meant to perform surgery with one small incision rather than two. But while Titan works to bring its product to market, Intuitive has already introduced a single-port upgrade to the da Vinci.

Robotics patent race
Healthcare robotics is in a period of intense research and development, with many patent applications revealing concepts for new surgical robots under development.

Yet the most significant patent portfolio so far is the one held by Intuitive Surgical, maker of the Da Vinci system. Shown here is a drawing from Intuitive's patent on a "Cooperative minimally invasive telesurgical system." In 2003, Intuitive merged with Computer Motion Inc. -- which had previously sued Intuitive for patent infringement -- and since then their combined patent portfolio has been one factor in fending off potential rivals. Computer Motion's Zeus surgical robotics system was subsequently phased out.

"Since that time, it's been a one-horse race," said John Hargrove, CEO of Titan Medical, which is in the process of preparing to bring its own surgical robot to market, with a design that Titan believes is sufficiently distinct from that of the da Vinci to avoid infringement claims.

Titan invented the "single-port" design, as opposed to the da Vinci's original "dual-port" design, meaning it's meant to perform surgery with one small incision rather than two. But while Titan works to bring its product to market, Intuitive has already introduced a single-port upgrade to the da Vinci.

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anon9719738726
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anon9719738726,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/23/2013 | 3:15:28 PM
Re: Is it just me?
If a car hits another car we sue the driver not the car. Surgical "Robots"are being "Driven" by a Doctor, that is who should be sued. (In My Humble Opinion.)
anon9719738726
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anon9719738726,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/23/2013 | 3:00:10 PM
Terminology...
Science fiction writers in the mid 20th century gave us names for much of the high tech equipment that are built and in use in the present. One was Robot, as an autonomous machine styled after a humanoid and performed with high precision the tasks as needed done, Like a "Generalist" they were very good at many tasks with no continous human control. The Robots in manufacturing plants doing welding and painting at high repeatable accuracy are examples in use. However another similar technology which appears to be a robot but is not autonomous but instead under the constand detailed control of a trained operator was named a "Waldo" not a Robot. Because the operating room surgical machine is in constant control by the Doctor, it is in fact a "Waldo" and not a robot. By making this point clear, to the patient, that the Doctor, and not a computer controlled mechanism, was performing the operation. Perhaps using the proper terminology, "Waldo" NOT "Robot", the patients would be better served, and less concerned. Proper vocabulary promotes understanding, but, misused terminology confuses and concerns users, who then misinterpret the operating proncipals and procedudes, with any technically complex systems. 
tkeller852
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tkeller852,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/21/2013 | 2:07:56 PM
Scary?
When they roll you into the operating room and move you onto the small,narrow platform under a big four armed monster it does look very intimidating.  I have an engineering background so I probably was not so intimidated as someone that less understands the machine.  You kind of wonder at that point but when you wake up with no pain and pretty much just four band aids you have to be impressed.  I was walking down the hall the afternoon of the same day.  The biggiest incision was not for the robot but was to get my prostate out.  Good, well done modern technology is truly wonderful.  It's worth a lot more than a new facebook.  Cheer it on!
Alison Diana
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Alison Diana,
User Rank: Moderator
11/19/2013 | 10:02:49 AM
Re: Is it just me?
There have been quite a few issues with da Vinci robots, including some lawsuits. Now, there are a lot more lawsuits associated with human surgeons, of course, but I think people get a bit leery of robotic operators. Anything new, especially in the surgical suite, will lead to increased scrutiny. With Watson, IBM has been very careful to underscore the big role doctors continue to play. Eventually, though, I'd imagine the tech will become more proactive and equipped to physically do more in an OR, ER, ICU, and other healthcare facilities.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2013 | 10:27:48 AM
Surgical robots not autonomous AI, so far
From everything I learned, no one is in any rush to give surgical robots autonomous capabilities. They're meant to be carefully controlled by a surgeon, albeit operating remotely. That doesn't mean there aren't clever algorithms in the mix, but typically for things like damping out the vibration of the surgeon's hands so the movement of a robotic arm can be precise.
Alex Kane Rudansky
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Alex Kane Rudansky,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2013 | 10:04:46 AM
Re: AI in HC
I'd love to see how Watson would perform in the OR. Right now he's useful for mining extremely large data sets to improve education and outcomes, but I'm interested to see if he'll enter the OR and provide clinical decision support anytime soon. 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 9:58:05 AM
AI in HC
David, I've been reading a lot about use of artificial intelligence in HC. I think I would be OK with Watson helping with my surgery.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 9:45:57 AM
Is it just me?
Is it just me, or do these surgical robots look scary? They remind me of an Imperial torture device from Star Wars.

I guess a human surgeon with a knife in his hand looks a little scary, too.
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