Friday, June 22, 2012

Robotics in Medicine: "What's Up, Robodoc?" (ISRG)

One of my senior partners decided that Intuitive Surgical was a real deal and in 2004 made a very impassioned pitch to own some. I didn't see it but couldn't come up with an argument to override someone who was both my elder and my senior.

The stock was around 15 bucks. When it hit $100 in 2006 I raised the question of selling the position.
In early 2008 the stock hit $350 and with some reluctance part of the position was sold.

By the time the market bottomed in March 2009 the stock was  back to $100 and we decided to look at picking some more up, maybe after the formal meeting following the end of the second quarter.
He died very suddenly in early June, we never added to the position,  the stock is at $550.12 and I miss him to this day.

The moral of this tale? He saw what was coming while I didn't have a clue.

It's not often you get to work with gunslingers when they are in their 70's and quite a treat to watch a master do his thing.

That's my robotic surgery story.

From Reason's Hit&Run blog:
The awesome news? Doctors are increasingly using robots to perform medical procedures. The less awesome news? It's really expensive, and contributing to increased spending on health care. Kevin Pho writes in USA Today:
The number of robot-assisted devices has exploded. Last year, 360,000 procedures were robot-assisted around the globe, up 29% from 2010, according to Intuitive Surgical, the sole manufacturer of surgical robots. As of early this year, more than 1,500 robots were installed in the U.S.
Whether the influx of robots in our operating rooms benefits patients remains uncertain. Of the few studies that have compared robotic surgery head-to-head with a traditional, minimally invasive approach, there was no clear benefit from using the robot.
Unfortunately, this hasn't stopped hospitals from aggressively marketing robots. A 2011 study of 400 random hospital websites found that 37% featured a surgical robot on their homepage. It's no wonder hospitals are showcasing the robots. They are very expensive. At up to $2.3 million each, plus an average of $135,000 in annual service fees, they are costly hospital outlays....