Let's talk robots: 9 CEO insights from Medtronic, Stryker & more


The global surgical robot market is projected to hit $14.4 billion by 2026, up from about $6.4 billion in 2021, according to a report by MarketsandMarkets.

Medtronic's Mazor system continues to lead the spine robot market. Globus Medical and Zimmer Biomet continue to push their spine robots and NuVasive expects to launch a competing system later this year.

Here are nine insights on robotics in spine, hip and knee surgery from the CEOs of Medtronic, Stryker, Zimmer Biomet and NuVasive, according to their most recent earnings calls:


1. Hospital investment: In Medtronic's fiscal year 2021 third quarter earnings call, CEO Geoff Martha was optimistic about the company's hospital customers' recovery. "The use of our capital equipment — such as energy consoles, robotics and navigation systems — is tied directly to procedures, so it's telling that hospitals are prioritizing spending on this type of equipment."

2. Record robot sales: Medtronic reported a strong quarter in capital equipment sales, "with a record number of Mazor robotic system unit sales, and near records for our O-arm imaging and StealthStation navigation systems," Mr. Martha said.

3. Outselling the competition: Mr. Martha expects the Mazor spine robot to "continue to meaningfully outsell" Medtronic's closest competitor, Globus Medical, in the spine space.

Zimmer Biomet

4. Partial Knee robot: The first procedure with the Rosa partial knee system was recently completed, according to CEO Bryan Hanson, who also indicated "strong market demand" in the Rosa platform since the end of 2020. "Given our market share in partial knee, the partial application is only going to serve to bolster that going forward."

5. Rosa Hip: Zimmer Biomet said it expects to launch Rosa Hip in the second half of 2021. The company is seeking to approve the robot for the direct anterior approach to hip replacement, "which we know is the fastest growth subcategory at hip right now," Mr. Hanson said.

6. Building on robotic sales: Mr. Hanson stressed that the most important factor about robotic revenue isn't the quarter that the systems are placed; "it's the tailwind that they create on a go-forward basis because now you've got an opportunity to be able to build revenue around those robotic systems."


7. Mako sales: Stryker's plan for Mako robots hasn't changed since the pandemic began, and sales are increasing, CEO Kevin Lobo said. About 50 percent of the company's accounts have new software for the systems to accommodate hip replacement as well as knee surgery.

8. Competition: Stryker is encouraged by its first-quarter performance and other competitive robots, such as Johnson & Johnson's Velys or Zimmer Biomet's Rosa, "haven't slowed us down at all," Mr. Lobo said. "If anything, what they've done is they've increased the validation that robotics are going to stay."


9. Room for growth: NuVasive CEO Chris Barry projected that roughly 25 percent of spine surgeries today are performed with navigation technologies, but it will still take more time for the market to grow. "We say plus or minus 15 percent of operating rooms have a robotic system installed today. And in that subgroup of operating rooms, utilization is still relatively low."

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