Covid-19 is fueling the growth of image-guided and robotic surgery markets. The global augmented reality and virtual reality (VR) market in healthcare is expected to reach $10.82 B by 2025. In February 2019, Vicarious Surgical landed $10 M from the Gates Frontier with participation from Khosla Ventures, Innovation Endeavors, AME Cloud Ventures and Marc Benioff for their VR surgical robotics.
Proprio, a Seattle-based startup, has $30 M in funding to apply their machine learning, immersive tech and VR and improve the accuracy of surgeon instruments. They are using 3D technology to help surgeons ‘see better’ to enhance surgical navigation.
“Every surgeon wants to provide the best possible care to the patient with the least amount of adverse effects, whether from the surgical outcome or the experience of surgery itself,” said Dr. Samuel Browd, Co-Founder of Proprio and attending Pediatric Neurosurgeon at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “We [..] believe Proprio will provide surgeons with the insights they need to perform more accurate surgery in a less harmful, radiation-free environment for the patient and the surgical staff.”
“Research shows over half of the population of surgeons exhibit signs of burnout. Combined with a shortage of up to 23,000 surgeons by 2032 and current events like Covid-19 that has led to a huge backlog of elective surgeries only serve to increase the pressure on surgeons going forward,” added Browd.
According to a spokesperson for the company, the technology augments how surgeons can operate on the spine and brain, which lets them see corners and enhance images for precise surgical tasks. The technology also allows surgeons to plan an entire surgery using imaging technology to create a 3D canvas of the patient’s brain and spine.
Gabriel Jones, Founder, and CEO of Proprio, said the company is currently in the clinical trial phase and expects to submit for FDA clearance within the next year.
“Revision surgeries, or “redo’s”, on spinal surgery [..] cost the US health system over $1 B a year,” said Jones. “That’s in only one category of surgery. Those costs ultimately are borne by the patient in the form of insurance rates and co-pays. Ultimately, better accuracy leads to less revision surgery, healthier patients, happier surgeons, and lower costs.”
Browd adds that today, surgery is a series of workarounds.
“The environment is full of distractions and disparate information the surgeon has to put together in their head to perform well,” said Browd. “From the beginning, we’ve leveraged new technologies like mixed reality, computational vision, and machine learning with one goal: give surgeons the information they need, when they need it, without overwhelming them with untimely or unneeded information.”