Dr. Wellington Hsu: Why robotic technology could revolutionize spine surgery, and where AI fits in

Written by Laura Dyrda | July 10, 2019 | Print  |

Wellington Hsu, MD, Clifford C. Raisbeck Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and director of research at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, sees great promise in robotic technology and artificial intelligence to improve spine care.

Here, Dr. Hsu outlines where he sees the biggest benefit of new technology for spine surgeons and practices.

Question: What do you think about robotic technology in the spine field?

Dr. Wellington Hsu: I believe that robotic technology has the potential to revolutionize the efficiency of the spine practice. Although it will take many years to perfect the technology for individual techniques and nuances, in the same way that navigation has changed and improve the way we perform spine surgery, robotics will as well. There is no question that many of the tasks that we perform on a regular basis can be duplicated by automated robotic technology that would allow surgeons to perform more complex tasks with less fatigue. I see the initial role of robotics as automating the simple tasks and allowing the complex ones for the human mind.

Q: Where do you see the biggest need for improvement in spine patient care?

WH: I think that the workflow of a surgeon can be even more efficient than what we have today. I believe that the biggest need for improvement is to optimize efficiency so that patients are in the operating room for less time, surgeons are less fatigued, and more patients get their procedure performed in a timely fashion.

Q: How do you see trends toward price transparency and value-based care affecting spine?

WH: I believe that price transparency and value based care will force surgeons to consider the value added for different parts of the surgery. This will make us consider all facets of new technology before we accept them for the vetting process. Price transparency will allow comparisons of like surgeons to improve efficiency across-the-board.

Q: What is the smartest thing you've done in the past 12 months to prepare your practice for the future?

WH: I believe that artificial intelligence will allow for a more efficient and productive spine practice in the future. I have familiarized myself with the available AI techniques that I believe will lead to improved clinical operations and surgical productivity. I believe that the slow introduction of these techniques within daily practice will open the door for the most efficiency possible in the future.

To participate in future Becker's Q&As or speak at Becker's events, contact Laura Dyrda at ldyrda@beckershealthcare.com.

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