The “Davos of Surgery” Converges Healthcare Leaders to Adopt a Unified and Digital Vision for the Future of Surgery

Three founding partners, Digital Surgery Ltd., Verb Surgical and Taylor Wessing LLP, host the first-ever FT Digital Surgery Summit, where a high-level cross-section of stakeholders converged to adopt a digital vision for the future of surgery. Attendees have dubbed the event “the Davos of Surgery.”

Thursday 21st of March, in San Francisco, more than 160 attendees and 23 speakers attended the inaugural FT Digital Surgery Summit, including leaders from global medical device companies, tech start-ups, philanthropic organizations, investors, surgical departments, and health systems. As the first-ever high-level gathering of its kind, the Summit defined a bold, digital vision for the future of surgery and marked a seismic shift for the field.

The day featured keynotes and panel discussions from some of the most preeminent thought leaders in the field. Speakers included Colonel (Dr) Jerome Buller, Commander, US Army Institute of Surgical Research; Joe Lonsdale, Founding Partner, 8VC; Prof Carla Pugh, Professor of General Surgery, Stanford School of Medicine; Dr Daniel Kraft, Faculty Chair for Medicine, Singularity University and Founder and Chair, Exponential Medicine; Prof Dan Stoyanov, Professor of Robot Vision, UCL and CSO, Digital Surgery Ltd.; Dr Allan Kirk, Chair, Department of Surgery, Duke University School of Medicine; Patrick Combes, Worldwide Technical Leader, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Amazon Web Services; Prof Jaap Bonjer, Chair and Professor of Surgery, Amsterdam University Medical Centre and CEO, Amsterdam Skills Centre for Health Sciences; Cheri Reynolds, Director of Program Development and Global Health, Assist International; Prof Ken Goldberg, William S. Floyd Jr. Distinguished Chair in Engineering, University of California, Berkeley; and many more.

“We’re fortunate to have brought together such a diverse group of decision-makers, surgeons and healthcare leaders, researchers, engineers, technologists and investors to share their perspectives,” said Dr Jean Nehme, CEO, Digital Surgery Ltd. “From the amazing breadth of attendees and speakers, it’s safe to say, we are reaching an inflection point,” Nehme further added. “I think the group in attendance today, with their mix of backgrounds and viewpoints, is instigating a step change in surgical care. I can see that there is a very real movement towards the digitization of surgery.”

Audience members, including senior leaders from surgical robotics and medical device companies such as Medtronic, Stryker, Intuitive Surgical, Verb, and Auris, engaged with the content and speakers throughout the day via Twitter and in-person questions. Elite global investors were also in attendance, including Fosun International, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, D1 Capital, Iconiq Capital and many more.

Jun Hou, Managing Director of Fosun International, said “This is the first conference of its kind that I have been to, which is solely devoted to surgery. Attendees had a chance to ask some burning questions that they have never been able to ask their peers in a very intimate setting.”

Kevin Vigilante, Chief Medical Officer, Booz Allen Hamilton, said “(Digital surgery) is the third inflection point in surgery, the first inflection was anti-sepsis, the second was anaesthesia, harnessing the power of data will be third inflection point.”

Prof Jaap Bonjer, Chair and Professor of Surgery, Amsterdam University Medical Centre and CEO, Amsterdam Skills Centre for Health Sciences, said “The conference has been excellent. It has been a fantastic interface between surgeons, industry and the financial sector.”

Michael Yip, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California San Diego, said “Wonderful collection of experts in robotics, automation and clinical practice.”

About surgery and digital surgery

Every year in the United States (US), more than 60 million surgical procedures are performed, of which 20 million are invasive.1 This means, more than 100 procedures are performed every minute. In the US alone, the surgical market is estimated to be 1 trillion USD.2

However, on the global scale, demand outstrips supply. It is estimated that 5 billion people lack access to safe and timely surgery. Every year, 18.6 million people die due to lack of access to surgical care.3

Digital surgery, the next frontier of surgery, is defined as the convergence of surgical technology, real-time data and intelligence. Following previous waves of disruption, which saw the transition from open to laparoscopic surgery, and from laparoscopic surgery to robotic surgery, the digital paradigm in surgery is bringing unprecedented changes to the century-old field. Up to now, continuous improvements in surgical tools have allowed for technically improved procedures smaller incisions, translating to reduced patient recovery times; better access to deep and angled spaces within the body; more precise maneuvers; and 3D visualization. The power of linked data and advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) are beginning to make a real impact in the way surgeries are performed, reducing well-documented variability in surgical process and outcomes.

Companies, investors, surgeons and health systems are racing to accelerate the digitization of surgery in order to dramatically improve patient outcomes whilst reducing cost and inefficiencies; improve patient access; reduce inequities between populations; improve quality; and deliver more personalized surgical care. With increased funding pressures across global health systems and the introduction of value-based care in some markets, stakeholders across the public and private sectors view digital surgery as the next apex in surgery.

 

About the Summit

The FT Digital Surgery Summit included 23 speakers across a mix of keynotes and panel discussions. The second Summit will take place in 2020 in New York.

Sessions and panel discussions included:

  • Driving Innovation: From Military Research to Civilian Medical Practice – Colonel (Dr) Jerome Buller, Commander, US Army Institute of Surgical Research
  • Defining Digital Surgery in the Context of Value-Based Care – Heather Lyu, General Surgery Resident, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Ozanan Meireles, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Jean Nehme, CEO and Co-founder, Digital Surgery Ltd; Dinesh Vyas, Chair, Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, California Northstate University 
  • Investment Opportunities in the Future of Health IT – Joe Lonsdale, Founding Partner, 8VC 
  • Automating the Metrics of Surgical Expertise: What do Surgeons Really Need? – Carla Pugh, Professor of General Surgery, Stanford School of Medicine
  • The Future of Health and Medicine: Where can Technology Take us? – Daniel Kraft, Faculty Chair for Medicine, Singularity University and Founder and Chair, Exponential Medicine
  • The Next Generation of Surgical Tools, Instruments and Materials – Luke Hares, Technology Director, CMR Surgical; Pablo E. Garcia Kilroy, Vice President, Applied Research and Technology, Verb Surgical; Richard Leparmentier, VP Engineering, Auris Health; Dan Stoyanov, Professor of Robot Vision, UCL & CSO, Digital Surgery Ltd
  • Preparing for the Future of Surgery Allan Kirk, Chair, Department of Surgery, Duke University School of Medicine
  • Artificial Intelligence – Rachael Callcut, Associate Professor of Surgery, University of California San Francisco; Patrick Combes, Worldwide Technical Leader, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Amazon Web Services; Euan Thomson, Global Head of R&D, Digital Technology and Advanced Innovation, Johnson & Johnson; Michael Yip, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California San Diego
  • New Ways of Learning – A Digital Surgical Curriculum – Jaap Bonjer, Chair and Professor of Surgery, Amsterdam University Medical Centre and CEO, Amsterdam Skills Centre for Health Sciences
  • Panel: Bringing it Back to the PatientMonika Hagen, Consultant Surgeon and Lecturer, University Hospital Geneva; Daniel Buchbinder, Chief, Maxilofacial Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York; Cheri Reynolds, Director of Program Development and Global Health, Assist International; Tim Worden, Partner, Life Sciences, Taylor Wessing
  • The Next Generation of Robots in the Operating RoomKen Goldberg, William S. Floyd Jr. Distinguished Chair in Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

 

Additional event info and photos here.

 

 

1 Total surgical volume derived from summation of ambulatory surgical and inpatient surgical volume. Ambulatory surgical volume derived from: Hall, M.J. et al., Ambulatory Surgery Data From Hospitals and Ambulatory Surgery Centers: United States, 2010. National Health Statistics Reports 2017. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr102.pd; Inpatient surgical volume derived from: Intuitive Surgical, Q4 2018 Investor Presentation. Retrieved from: https://isrg.gcs-web.com/static-files/8afb7980-4820-41ff-bfa4-b3f82ce4111a. Retrieved on 20 Nov 2018.

2 Munoz, E. et al., National and Surgical Health Care Expenditures, 2005–2025. Ann Surg 2010;251:195–200.

3 World Bank. Global Surgery 2030, Report Overview. Retrieved from http://www.lancetglobalsurgery.org/. 15 October 2018