“One of the most powerful equalizers in any system is technology, and as medical equipment manufacturers work to improve their positions in an increasingly competitive and outcomes-based marketplace, some are considering the specific needs of women in their product development,” writes Matthew N. Skoufalos in his cover story for MedicalDealer Technology: The Great Gender Equalizer – A look at trends in women’s health.
In the article, CEO and Founder of Mimic Technologies Jeff Berkley explains that an improvement in surgical techniques — especially for procedures such as hysterectomies — can have a profound impact on health outcomes.
He believes that women’s healthcare can benefit from an emphasis on minimally invasive surgeries, particularly if the barrier of training surgeons is removed from the equation.
The following is an excerpt from the August 2014 cover story:
“I personally think that the impact simulation can make on women’s health is probably more profound than it would be on other disciplines,” Berkley said.
“People have been doing laparoscopic hysterectomies since the 1970s, and yet there is still some resistance to adopting what is clinically a better approach,” he added. “We feel a lot of this has to do with the fact that people don’t have access to the training.”
“It is an enabling technology,” Berkley said, “but the reality is it hasn’t been out that long, and even though a lot of robotics are being done for hysterectomies, endometriosis, and other surgeries, people are still going to try to make a comparison to laparoscopics. It’s not an apples to apples comparison.”
Robotics can allow surgeons to achieve “expert status” faster, Berkley said, and even carry advantages over the traditional laparoscopic approach. Wristed instruments allow greater access to tissue. A trimmer scales back motion to allow for greater precision and accuracy. Surgical robots even offer 3D vision.
But the key advantage, potentially, is that surgical robotics also offers the possibilities of simulation, which helps keep surgeons primed for practice.
“If you’re a urologist, you might do three to seven prostatectomies a day,” Berkley said; “but if you’re an OB-GYN, you’re very likely helping people deliver babies. It’s not uncommon that a GYN may only do a surgery once a month. People are going to have less practice on the job and your skills can deteriorate pretty fast in a month.”
“If you have 24-7 access to a simulator and you have some time between cases, or you want to simulate a case, you can maintain your skills,” he said.