Medtech conglomerate Medtronic purchases Digital Surgery in bid to expand their Surgical Robotics arm

The deal was announced earlier this month.
By Sophie Porter
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US medical technology provider Medtronic has announced the acquisition of Digital Surgery, a UK-based company specialising in surgical AI and digital education and training. The purchase integrates Digital Surgery into Medtronic’s Surgical Robotics business, a subset of their Minimally Invasive Therapies Group.

WHY IT MATTERS

Medtronic is the largest medical device supplier in the world. By absorbing the technological expertise of Digital Surgery, they will be able to expand patient access to quality medical care.

In statements provided both by Medtronic and Digital Surgery, there was an emphasis on their shared ambition for patient safety and surgical training, facilitated through advancements in AI.

Digital Surgery is best known for Touch Surgery, an interactive surgical simulator to help train healthcare professionals without endangering patients.

Megan Rosengarten, vice-president and general manager of the Surgical Robotics business, emphasised how Digital Surgery’s expertise in data and analytics would aid “[their] continued focus on advancing minimally invasive surgery – from education and training, to clinical decision support, to reducing cost and unwarranted variability”.

THE LARGER PICTURE

The acquisition speaks to the increasing importance given to data-driven care options on a global scale. Digital Surgery saw the possibility in partnering with such an influential company, claiming in a statement to have chosen to “join forces” with Medtronic over remaining independent and funded by investors, in order to “help improve the future of surgical care through AI, data and education and training”.

Medtronic is in competition with Intuitive Surgical, who currently leads in the field of robot-assisted surgery. By absorbing and expanding on the innovations of Digital Surgery, Medtronic will hope to close that gap in the race to the top of that expanding market.

The Medtronic press release states that “Digital Surgery and Medtronic’s co-developed digital solutions are expected to be offered on future Medtronic soft tissue robotic assisted surgery systems”.

These will be a direct market rival to Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci robot, also specialising in soft tissue surgery.

ON THE RECORD

In a press release by Digital Surgery, co-founder Jean Nehme spoke of the reasoning behind the merger: “We built Digital Surgery on the fundamental belief that computing power and data will underpin the next frontier of surgical care. […] Now our expertise in data, AI and digital education and training will combine with Medtronic’s expertise and legacy in designing medical technologies.

“The products we build together will allow us to continue the tradition of meaningful innovation in surgery, but more importantly, to continue to serve patients and the surgical teams delivering their care.”

Rosengarten reiterated the common goal of the merger, stating: “We are thrilled to bring the Digital Surgery team and their expertise into Medtronic, not only due to the strategic fit from a technological perspective, but due to the shared belief that patients around the world deserve access to quality surgical care.”