Tech­nol­ogy tide in Singapore Health­care

BioSpectrum (Asia) - - Cover Story -

The ad­vent of the da Vinci sur­gi­cal sys­tem in the early 2000s paved way for med­i­cal ro­botic ad­vance­ments across the world. The SingHealth clus­ter, for example, has been us­ing da Vinci ro­bot for rad­i­cal prosta­te­c­tomy (prostate gland re­moval), nephrec­tomy (kid­ney re­moval), and pyelo­plasty (re­pair of nar­rowed ureters), amongst oth­ers us­ing min­i­mally in­va­sive sur­gi­cal tech­nique. Other ap­pli­ca­tions of da Vinci in­clude and not limited to on­col­ogy pro­ce­dures, car­diac valve repairs, gas­troin­testi­nal and gy­ne­co­log­i­cal pro­ce­dures, and var­i­ous other ap­pli­ca­tions. A min­i­mal in­va­sive surgery re­sults in smaller in­ci­sion wounds, lower blood loss, lesser pain, faster re­cov­ery and im­proved qual­ity of life for pa­tients. Lower blood lost re­duces the need for trans­fu­sion and faster re­cov­ery re­sults in much lesser hos­pi­tal days, bed oc­cu­pancy, num­ber of fol­low ups, med­i­ca­tions and hence low­ers the over­all cost bur­den on the hos­pi­tal. Ro­botic surgery, re­motely con­trolled by sur­geon, pro­vides bet­ter vi­sion and tis­sue dis­sec­tion from a mag­ni­fied view.

Ro­botic tech­nol­ogy is mov­ing beyond as­sist­ing in dif­fi­cult sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures to pa­tient di­ag­nos­tics, and plan­ning and ad­min­is­trat­ing a wide range of med­i­cal treat­ments and ap­pli­ca­tions such as imag­ing sys­tems, ra­di­a­tion ther­a­pies, pa­tient po­si­tion­ing, and oth­ers. Due to the speed, ef­fi­ciency, and ac­cu­rate pre­ci­sion that ro­bots of­fer to the health­care in­dus­try, med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy has emerged as one of the promis­ing mar­kets in Singapore. How­ever med­i­cal ro­bot­ics is a top-heavy mar­ket with lead­ers hav­ing prom­i­nent ex­per­tise and large patent li­braries for their tech­nolo­gies. Such mar­ket lead­ers

of­fer sig­nif­i­cant bar­ri­ers (in terms of brand im­age, ex­pand­ing tech­nol­ogy, clinical ev­i­dence, and es­tab­lished con­nec­tions with renowned in­ter­na­tional hos­pi­tals) to new and up­com­ing par­tic­i­pants en­ter­ing the mar­ket. So far, only a few start-up ven­tures across the world have been able to bring their prod­ucts to mar­ket.

And 2017 was an im­por­tant year for Singapore as a med­i­cal ro­bot­ics start up, En­doMaster gained global at­ten­tion. Singapore’s com­mit­ment to drive the mar­ket through agen­cies such as the Cen­tre for Health­care As­sis­tive and Ro­bot­ics Tech­nolo­gies (CHART) and the Singapore-MIT Al­liance for Re­search & Tech­nol­ogy (SMART) In­no­va­tion Cen­tre, as well as PhD schol­ar­ships in med­i­cal ro­bot­ics cour­ses is in­cu­bat­ing the mar­ket for fu­ture ad­vance­ments.

Singapore presents good op­por­tu­nity for med­i­cal ro­botic tech­nol­ogy as ven­dors, uni­ver­si­ties and govern­ment agen­cies are fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing next-gen­er­a­tion sur­gi­cal ro­botic sys­tems for var­i­ous med­i­cal dis­ci­plines in terms of sens­ing, vi­sion, or even in­stru­ment ma­nip­u­la­tion for pre­ci­sion in surgery. There is a promis­ing fu­ture for med­i­cal ro­bots in var­i­ous other sur­gi­cal dis­ci­plines, from neu­ro­surgery to ra­dio­surgery, in­clud­ing ENT, or­tho­pe­dics, aes­thetic surg­eries, pe­di­atrics and im­plant surg­eries. The avail­abil­ity of bet­ter user­in­ter­faces for hu­man-and-ro­bot in­ter­ac­tion and the im­prove­ment in hap­tic tech­nol­ogy will en­able med­i­cal ro­bots to pen­e­trate un­ex­plored fields. There is a mar­ket op­por­tu­nity for med­i­cal ro­botic tech­nol­ogy in re­mote pa­tient care and mon­i­tor­ing, pa­tient au­ton­omy as well as in im­prov­ing clinical work­flow within the hos­pi­tal.

Singapore has a great po­ten­tial to progress for­ward in ex­plor­ing new and ground­break­ing tech­nolo­gies to sup­port the devel­op­ment of med­i­cal ro­bot and rev­o­lu­tion­ize the way care is de­liv­ered in this part of the world.

Sha­lani An­dria, In­dus­try An­a­lyst, Trans­for­ma­tional Health, Asia Pa­cific at Frost & Sul­li­van

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