In our modern world, new technologies are constantly being developed, tested and improved in order to accelerate and make certain procedures and tasks more efficient for humans, and medicine is certainly a field that could greatly benefit from tech advances. Robotics is one of the fastest growing technological domains in the present, and if it weren’t for certain complex institutional regulations, the involvement of robots inside the operation room wouldn’t be so rare. In today’s episode, Dr. Rosie Sendher and Dr. Erica Fisk are joined by Dr. Kornelis Poelstra, a pioneer and advocate for the integration of Robotics and Automation in orthopedics, to chat about the disconnection between the medical field and the tech space, and why it is so important to narrow it down in order to improve surgeons’ performance and patients’ health.

Dr. Kornelis Poelstra is a certified spine surgeon, and one of the world leaders in Robotic Spine Surgery. Dr. Poelstra founded the Robotic Spine Institute of Silicon Valley and has been leading the project since its foundation. A huge believer of collaboration, he encourages professionals to embrace the available technological tools and become a part of the medical revolution that is about to occur.

If presented with a robot that’s capable of drilling, cutting, measuring and performing surgical procedures much more accurately than a human surgeon, which one would you bet your health on? The robotical advances we are witnessing in the present are certainly impressive, and we can’t help but wonder if robots could actually take over millions of jobs in the medical ecosystem. The replacement of surgeons is definitely the wrong way to look at the revolution, since the whole point of it is for professionals to lead the movement. Listen now to get your mind blown around the technological innovations in favor of medicine, the factors that are slowing them down, and why the art, craft and human touch of every procedure would be preserved, even with the intervention of robots in the room.

In this episode we chat about:

  • (03:02) - The history, evolution and present of the Spine Robotics panorama — “It’s not very sophisticated, but robots are going to be part of our future. If you look at the world around us, it’s undeniable.”
  • (09:35) - How collaboration could result in major technological advances and less operational obstacles — “Everybody wants to go to an end goal that is fairly common, it’s a competitive race, but we’re held back by regulatory institutions. Some level of collaborative effort is needed.”
  • (12:55) - Is the development and improvement of robotical accuracy a threat for human surgeons’ jobs? — “Robots currently can take a gig and just basically drill it away exactly the way that I marked it. We need to be in charge of this process and it can’t just be done by engineers who do a really good job on the sawbone, and then suddenly are allowed to walk into an operating room and start doing it on patients. ”
  • (25:00) - Are patients willing to have a robot involved in their procedures? — “People do seek me out because of robotics but even if they have to have an operation that we currently don’t do with a robot, they still want me to do it. The data is there, the robot makes you a better surgeon.”
  • (28:36) - On the training of more medical-oriented robotic specialists and the urgent collaboration of various tools to boost technological growth — “You don’t get that in an academic scenario. Most academic places have a robot that stands in the corner and collects dust.”
  • (37:13) - The groundbreaking materials that are being developed for surgical procedures — “The world of implants in orthopedics, spine, cardiology and potentially some other areas are going to look very different based on this invention. For the first time in 60 years we have something new.”


The Robotic Spine Institute of Las Vegas

Justin Barad | Standardizing Surgical Training Through Virtual Reality

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