Intuitive Surgical Exec: Here Is Why Robotic Surgery Is Useful

This guest post was written by Dr. Catherine Mohr, the senior director of medical research at Intuitive Surgical, maker of the Da Vinci Surgical System, a robot used in prostate removal and other surgical procedures. There, she develops new surgical procedures and evaluates new technologies for improving surgical outcomes.

Mohr submitted this piece in response to a post by Forbes contributor Robert Pearl, who is the chief executive of the Permanente Medical Group. I continue to think Pearl wrote a thoughtful post, but he did not give enough opportunity for defenders of robotic surgery to state their case. That opportunity is therefore given here. 

As a doctor and engineer who has dedicated myself to developing new and better ways to perform medical procedures around the world, I have seen firsthand how minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery has revolutionized the field of surgery. I have also directly experienced the value it can bring to both surgeons and patients.

Disruptive technology such as robotics naturally breeds skeptics. This is a good thing, as every new medical technology should earn its way into practice by either improving outcomes or reducing cost (ideally both). However, skepticism without an understanding of a technology or how it is applied hinders medical progress and does not help improve patient care. A Forbes contributor recently called into question the value of robotic-assisted surgery compared with other surgical techniques, first asserting it had no benefit, then implying that surgeons using this technology were dupes of a marketing campaign before concluding that the only role of robotics was to drive up cost. (See: America’s Broken Health Care System) The published scientific literature shows something very different.



Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President of Ortho Sales Partners and Partner for The De Angelis Group. He also serves as Co-Founder and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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