Future surgical tools will rely more on technology, be more customized

The surgical tools of the future will heavily rely on new technology and will be more customized and flexible according to a new report from U.K.-based technology consulting firm Cambridge Consultants. The report stems from a recent thought-leadership event hosted by the firm in which surgical leaders from around the globe were brought together to discuss what they think the surgical landscape will look like in the year 2030.

As the healthcare system increasingly becomes less task-based and more value-based, product innovation will need to change, according to the report's authors. "In most cases, device innovation will primarily focus on those technologies that can add 'value': improve clinical benefit to patients while also reducing the overall cost of care by increasing the efficiency of the clinic," they wrote. "In the majority of cases, this will lead to device manufacturers basing their development decisions on the value of the clinical benefit delivered by a device in the context of its impact on overall clinic operational benefit."

According to the authors, a two-tier healthcare system will emerge that spurs device innovation. A "primary tier" will focus on treating life-threatening conditions, while a secondary tier will focus on patients who pay for their own non-life-threatening procedures.

"We are already seeing this shift to a customer-responsive two-tier system along with a deskilling of surgical specialties at hospitals around the world," Simon Karger, associate director, surgical & interventional products at Cambridge Consultants, said in a statement. Karger points to the Cleveland Clinic as an example of a hospital that organizes its hospitals around patient needs instead of the "traditional division between medicine and surgery."

According to the report's authors, only technologies that offer "rounded value" to providers will stick. Energy systems, for instance, likely will replace blades, according to the authors, with "precise cutting with real-time coagulation."

New technology developed by researchers at Purdue University seems to follow that trend of increasing efficiency; it enables surgeons to use hand gestures to issue commands to a computer that allows them to browse through and display medical images in real time.

What's more, a study published last January concluded that surgical accuracy and hospital efficiency could be improved through the use of patient-matched technology, which requires engineers to create patient-specific surgical instruments.

To learn more:
- read the Cambridge Consultants announcement
- download the report