6 key observations on robotic technology for spine surgery

Spinal Tech

Medtech introduced their ROSA robot to the United States market initially for brain surgeries. Surgeons have embraced this robotic technology for brain surgery, and earlier this year ROSA was also approved for spine surgery in the U.S.

ROSA robotic technology is used for either brain or spine procedures. In China, there are 11 ROSA systems and the company has seen huge potential for growth. Hospitals in Germany, France, Spain and the US are also using ROSA for spinal procedures.


“We are seeing some real growth, which is quite exciting, and the awareness has increased significantly,” says Medtech Senior Marketing Director Teresa Prego. “The demand has also increased significantly. This is becoming more mainstream and accepted as a treatment approach.”


During the fourth quarter of the 2016 fiscal year, the company sold 13 systems. Seven were sold in the United States, two in France, two in China and one in both England and Germany. By comparison, the company sold 10 in the same quarter last year.


The first robotic spine surgery using ROSA in the United States was performed in May, following FDA clearance in January 2016. Juan Torres-Reveron, MD, performed the procedure at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio.


“We will continue to grow and become an established technology. We are really excited about that,” says Ms. Prego. “We are really pleased to be in both the spine and brain spaces and continue to grow in those areas.”


Her are six key observations from Ms. Prego on robotic technology for spine surgery:


1. The demand for better outcomes will drive growth among robotic technologies. “The great thing about ROSA in brain and spine is that clear clinical issues are resolved,” says Ms. Prego. “Surgeons are using a robot for minimally invasive procedures where there may not have been an option in the past. When there is a true clinical application, and you can show high clinical and healthcare economic value, there will be growth in those procedures.”


2. Patients have a better understanding of minimally invasive procedures. They are demanding less invasive surgery when possible because of the advantages, including less pain and blood loss, and quicker recovery times. “The ability to provide MIS solutions for patients is appealing and I think patients have a better understanding of MIS than they did five or six years ago,” says Ms. Prego.


3. Patients are taking more interest in their care. Traditionally, device companies, including Medtech, targeted advertising efforts toward the hospital. However, as patients become more active in decision-making, companies are working with patient advocacy groups to share new surgical options. “We are participating with more patient-focused events, foundations and sponsoring events to provide information about the clinical value of the robotic device,” says Ms. Prego. “However, we think the message should still come from the hospital and the physicians talking to the patients about the technology and treatments available.”


4. Data will show how technology can improve outcomes for different patient populations. Medtech uses claims data to help hospitals understand a fuller picture of their patient population and whether they could achieve a return-on-investment for the robotic technology. “We don’t drive this initiative, but we can be helpful in showing them how the robotic technology can benefit their patients as well as their physician and healthcare staff,” says Ms. Prego. “We can also connect hospitals with advocacy efforts and foundations for education opportunities with patients and physicians.”


5. Online presence is important. Patients and physicians are looking online for information about diseases, conditions, treatments and technology. “We are always updating our search engine optimization and our social media presence,” says Ms. Prego. “It’s really amazing to see how that has grown. The internet is a very powerful tool.”


6. Technology will continue to improve over time. After the initial adopters show positive results, and the next generations of the technology improves, there will likely be more adopters in the future. “You’ll see more integration of the robotic systems and there will be developments for better information flow for surgeons,” says Ms. Prego. “The devices will also become smaller and will have a smaller footprint in the OR.”


Zimmer Biomet, a Warsaw, Ind.-based orthopedics company, recently announced plans to acquire Medtech.


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