Technology for Better Surgery

Technology for Better Surgery
Technology for Better Surgery
David Schummers
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Chief Executive Officer
June 21, 2021

Every day, surgeons and hospital staff come together to improve, or even save, patients’ lives.

They coordinate incredibly valuable resources to deliver this service, such as multi-million dollar robots, expensive devices like hip implants and catheters for heart treatments, not to mention skilled professionals like surgical technologists and radiology technicians.

But the most critical resource is time, and this is where the greatest challenges lie.

Technology has revolutionized our lives. When you order a Lyft, you have up-to-the-second location information, so you can jump out of your house right as the car pulls up. When an Amazon driver leaves a package at your door, you get an image, both from your Ring and from Amazon, sent to your phone in real time.

Unfortunately, hospitals run on legacy technologies, often using landline phones and overhead pagers to communicate. Their electronic health records were designed to store patient records, yet have become the best software they have for operational decisions.

This is why critical metrics don’t improve. Cases don’t start on time, turnover time between cases doesn’t decrease, and O.R. utilization remains below capacity.

And the staff is left holding the bag. The nurses, techs and administrators are relied upon to keep the operating room (O.R.) running efficiently, but without the tools they need. Each surgery they support includes multiple complex devices and techniques. Yet they are expected to be expert in each type of surgery and each piece of equipment. Add to that the specific preferences of each surgeon, even when doing the same procedure. A difficult job in the best of circumstances; impossible when things don’t go perfectly.

And this leaves the doctors frustrated. Simple decisions, like “is the O.R. ready for me?” or “should I go see a patient on the floor?” or “maybe get some lunch?” aren’t so simple. At critical moments during surgery, surgeons frequently ask for an instrument or an implant that may not be ready — or even in the O.R. at all.

Even worse, surgeons may experience an increase in complications — such as infection rate — and have no idea why.

Apella is developing technology to improve surgery.

We are bringing modern engineering that is usually found in consumer internet products, home IOT systems, or self driving cars to hospitals’ most critical, and expensive service: surgery.

There is no doubt that artificial intelligence, computer vision and machine learning will dramatically improve surgical outcomes and costs. Surgical training for doctors and staff is rooted in a master/apprentice model popularized before the industrial revolution. These schools of surgical technique create important variations. But surgical outcomes are studies in small numbers, and the factors that contribute to good or bad results are difficult to measure with currently available data.

Our technology is designed to give every member of the team — surgeon, staff, administration — the power they need to do their job better, and deliver great care.

This journey will be a long one, but well worth the fight. To get there, we will need new data, collected at scale, and collected across procedure type, geography and site of service.

The adventure starts now.

Technology for Better Surgery

David is a co-founder and the chief executive officer of Apella. David started his healthcare career over 20 years ago in finance, covering emerging medical technology companies and large diversified healthcare companiies. Through this experience, he was drawn to the entrepreneur energy and decided to transition to operating companies focused on new technologies. David has been on leadership teams that created new standards of care for multiple disease states including spinal pathologies, gastrointestinal disorders and cancers. Most recently, David joined Auris Health in 2014 as the company's first commercial executive and helped transition the company from an early start up to the largest start-up transaction in medical technology history, a $5.7B sale to Johnson and Johnson in 2019.