Companies that provide remote surgical support are becoming increasingly profitable as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. US-based medical technology company Avail Medsystems has just raised $100m in a Series B funding for its Procedural Telemedicine system, built specifically to enable outside experts to remotely join the surgical team.
The rise of Internet of Things (IoT) technology and 5G mobile phone networks have made it possible to carry out never-before-seen feats in the operating room and entirely bypass geographical barriers between surgeon and patient. The global telemedicine market is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 15% between 2020 and 2027, and telesurgery is no exception.
Case support and workflow platform ExplORer Surgical has now launched a programme designed to connect medical technology company representatives with their peers in the surgical team to provide real-time guidance.
The two-way video case support function has been added to the platform’s existing procedural workflow features to create a digitised playbook for every operative involved in a surgical procedure. It’s designed to allow for remote demonstrations while it gathers intraoperative performance data, allowing staff to record timestamps and save annotated images, which can be used to create actionable insights to increase efficiency for the entire surgical team.
The ExplORer platform is cloud-based and designed to run on pre-existing operating room hardware, such as mobile phones, desktop monitors or a TV screen, with developers also working on building offline functionality so that the service can still work if internet connection is lost.
Covid-19 has made it harder for reps to be in the room
For many modern surgeries, medical device reps are a key part of the team – ExplORer Surgical co-founder and CEO Jennifer Fried says they’re present during 50% of specialist surgeries across the board, and close to 100% for certain highly complex procedures.
“ExplORer is a software tool that provides a digital workflow for medical device companies to use with their customers,” says Fried. “We build out a digital step-by-step workflow teaching people how to carry out different procedures, and the medical device rep is also able to capture this data.
“What’s really exciting about the remote announcement is we’ve rehauled all of our video conferencing, so you can have a rep or clinical specialist who’s at home, and they’re still able to provide the same level of guidance and capture data for what’s happening in the room.”
Due to Covid-19, many hospitals across the US have limitations on how many members of staff can be present in an operating room. Restrictions on movement can also mean it’s hard for medical device reps to travel between different hospitals to carry out their work. ExplORer allows them to remain part of the surgical team even when the pandemic means they physically can’t be in the room.
For Fried, this has meant a major uptick in business.
“We have signed new customers, ranging from the largest of the global medtech companies to some of the small mid-caps, as well as privately backed companies,” she says. “I’d say what we saw in terms of inbound interest to our sales team has gone up sixfold since before the pandemic.”
Out of the operating room, into the doctor’s office
As well as connecting with clients for operating room procedures, ExplORer has started to move into surgical settings outside the hospital. Due to Covid-19, many procedures are now being carried out in ambulatory surgery centres.
Fried says: “I think a big reason we’ve seen outsized growth in this area is that you’re bringing new procedures into these settings where the team isn’t used to working with these products or going through these procedures, so there’s even more of a desire for support and having some of that guidance.
“We just signed an incredibly large customer for office-based procedures in the urology space, which we’ll hopefully be able to announce soon.”
ExplORer signed its first international customer, in Canada, last year, with plans for further expansion incoming.