Intuitive Surgical continues to shine, nevertheless competitors are entering the fray

08/04/16 by Frank Tobe

The number of surgical procedures that use Intuitive Surgical’s machines, ~700,000 in 2015, has steadily risen and was 15% year-over-year 2014 to 2015. According to Fortune, within five years 1/3 of U.S. surgeries (from 15% today) will be performed with robotic systems, with surgeons sitting at computer consoles guiding mechanical arms.

Most top hospitals have invested in these robots which cost an average of $1.5 million and entail ongoing maintenance and procedures’ expenses.

The metrics, however, are such that insurers pay no more for surgeries that utilize the systems than for other types of minimally-invasive procedures, such as laparoscopy. Because of patents and aggressive protection of their IP, Intuitive Surgical is the only game in town. But technology is improving, methods are changing, and a fleet of new competitors – some with very deep pockets – are entering the marketplace.

One market analyst said that “robotics has only penetrated 5-10% of surgical procedures so there is a big opportunity for increased expansion for several players in the market.” In the chart above prepared by Verb Surgical, one can see the growing blue of robotic-assisted procedures and the barely touched laparoscopy procedures on the horizon.




Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President and CEO of Ortho Spine Partners and sits on several company and industry related Boards. He also is the Creator and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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