Activ Surgical is building hardware-agnostic surgical software that allows surgical systems to collaborate with surgeons. Activ Surgical’s patent-protected surgical software platform reduces unintended and preventable surgical complications by enhancing a surgeon’s intra-operative decision making.
In response to emailed questions, Founder and Chief Science and Medical Officer Dr. Peter Kim and CEO Todd Usen talked about the business.
Why did you start/join Activ Surgical?
Kim: As a career surgeon and medical technologist, I founded Activ Surgical after witnessing firsthand the problems current healthcare practitioners and surgeons see day in and day out. Surgical errors are directly leading to the loss of human life, and cost the healthcare system billions each year. I believed there had to be a way to not only reduce medical errors, but reduce the high cost of surgery and save lives. There is massive demand for industry-wide reform, and the need to overturn a 70-year old status quo surgical imaging process which uses fluorescent dye and does not offer real-time, objective physiologic information. Instead, Activ Surgical’s aim is to deliver real-time intraoperative visual data and images to surgeons when they critically need it during procedures. As the inventor of Activ’s foundational technology, I developed the platform over the course of seven years, with more than $13 million in non-dilutive grant funding, while leading the Shaikh Institute at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
What specific need/problem are you seeking to address in healthcare?
Usen: We envision a future of collaborative surgery, with surgical intelligence empowering scopes and robots to see what humans cannot see. Human judgment and wisdom is augmented by robotic precision and the power of insights derived from some of the world’s top surgeons using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Through our platform, we are aiding surgeons across the U.S. by providing critical real-time intelligence and visualization to improve patient outcomes, reduce preventable surgical errors and complications, and create significant overall savings to healthcare systems. Behind heart disease and cancer, preventable medical errors are currently the third leading cause of death. Of these deaths, surgical errors account for nearly 26% of these errors. That number is estimated to cost the healthcare system over $36 billion in the U.S. alone. Not only are there massive cost savings to be had, but more importantly, there are lives that can be saved with our technology.
What does your product do? How does it work?
Kim: Activ Surgical’s first-of-its-kind digital surgery platform will make surgery safer, driven by the unique combination of human judgement and robotic precision. The platform underpinning the next wave of surgical innovation is ActivEDGE, an artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning (ML) platform designed to provide critical real-time intelligence and visualization to improve patient outcomes, avoid preventable surgical errors and complications, and provide significant overall savings to healthcare systems. ActivEDGE is the engine that allows our company to build a framework that trains AI models, and delivers insights derived from some of the world’s top surgeons to all surgical systems and operating rooms around the world.
The first product in Activ’s portfolio is ActivSight, which we are expecting to be cleared by the FDA in early 2021. ActivSight seamlessly integrates with any installed visualization system to provide real-time intraoperative visual data and images not currently available to surgeons through existing technologies. With ActivSight, surgical systems — from scopes to robots — can visualize blood flow in real-time with no workflow impact, unlike ICG, which does not offer real-time information to surgeons. To date, eight major hospital networks across the U.S. have been established as pilot sites.
ActivInsight, our second product, will transform massive amounts of data gathered intraoperatively to help characterize tissue and critical structures. ActivInsight is expected to be available within the next two years.
Is this your first healthcare startup? What’s your background in healthcare?
Kim: While Activ is my first startup, I held a long career in healthcare and surgery. I previously served as Associate Surgeon-in-Chief of the Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Center for Surgical Care at Children’s National, as well as lead the FDA-funded National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation (NCC-PDI). I originally joined Children’s National from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, a national and international leading institution in pediatric research and care. I received my medical training, including the distinction of Master of Surgery, at McGill University. I completed my surgical residency training at the University of Toronto as well as a fellowship in pediatric surgery at the University’s Hospital for Sick Children.
Usen: I joined Dr. Kim and the Activ team in 2019, with more than 25 years of medical device and healthcare experience. Prior to Activ, I served as the President of the Medical Systems Group at Olympus Corporation of the Americas, where I led the group’s expansion from six medical divisions to 11. Prior to joining the Olympus Corporation, I also held positions of President of Orthopedics at Smith and Nephew, overseeing the Total Joint, Sports Medicine and Trauma divisions.
Who is your customer? How do you generate revenue?
Usen: Health systems and hospitals are our primary customers, although the users and beneficiaries of the product’s capabilities are the surgeons.
Do you have clinical validation for your product?
Usen: We have multiple major hospital networks across the U.S. and Europe have been established as pilot sites. We anticipate that our first product, ActivSight, will be cleared by the FDA in early 2021
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