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Robotics and the Surgical World

Johnson and Johnson

3. Good Health and Well-Being 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 10. Reduced Inequalities 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Overview

Robotic surgery may sound like a concept pulled straight from a science-fiction movie, but companies like Johnson and Johnson are actively working to implement these devices in hospitals around the world. The incorporation of robotic technology within the world of medicine has provided accessibility to a new standard of care for thousands across the nation. As an employee of Johnson and Johnson, Larry Lazo works to fulfill the third SDG, ensuring healthy living and promoting well-being for all people.

Authors

Matthew Lazo

Matthew Lazo

Yoltic Dominguez

Yoltic Dominguez

Aahil Ramzan

Aahil Ramzan

Tungalag Bayarmaa

Tungalag Bayarmaa

School

Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University

Professor

Ingrid Greene

Ingrid Greene

Innovation

Johnson and Johnson has earned a reputation of being at the forefront of innovation within the medical industry, and the company’s spinal surgery sub-division, DePuy Synthes, is no exception to this. As an employee of DePuy Synthes, Larry Lazo works as an intermediary between Johnson and Johnson and Brainlab, a medical device manufacturer that specializes in AI robotic surgery. Larry specifically coordinates the sale of these robots and the training required when introducing the unit into a hospital. Robotic surgery is a concept that was first introduced in the 1980s, but Johnson & Johnson is working to increase the availability of quality healthcare by implementing devices like the ones manufactured at Brainlab nationally,

Historically patients undergoing complicated surgeries like spinal procedures have been required to travel across the nation to different metro-hubs to find the few doctors in the country capable of such an operation. It was a rare case if an individual would schedule a visit to their local hospital to make these arrangements. Surgical robots have already eliminated this issue in many areas of the nation. Using these robots, surgeons are assisted with AI technology which learns from all past successful surgeries performed on the bot, practically eliminating any room for human error. The AI also allows the surgeon to plan out every movement required to complete the surgery and program it into the device before they even enter the operating room. When the time comes to actually perform the surgery, the operation becomes a bit more like a game of connecting the dots for the surgeon as the entire plan for the surgery has already been programmed into the device. With all these features and more, the robot allows for a certain standard of care to be achieved in each hospital using one regardless of the individual surgeon’s skill set, both improving the overall quality of care in the healthcare system and increasing accessibility to this care for thousands.

Inspiration

DePuy Synthes and Brainlab, have taken inspiration from the progress we’ve made in the industry due to the growth of technology and other resources. Over time it became clear that we should learn the concepts and executions of the greatest surgeons in the country as best as possible.

Fifty years ago, if you were in need of a vital heart surgery, you would have to fly to a different place to have a specific surgeon who is an expert in that field complete it. With today’s advancements, we are able to share more of our ideas with people across the nation. This is where technology and Brainlab are a huge factor in the success of this project. The technology overall helps efficiently map out procedures to reduce the room for any errors or potential complications for the patients.

Overall impact

Increasing the availability of quality healthcare across the country is one of the sustainable goals of good health and well-being. Since our country does not have universal healthcare, there should be opportunities for people all across the United States to have access to the technology that is available without having to fly or drive all the way across the country for surgery. Every year costs rise and this technology allows for people who need the surgery. Scoliosis is prevalent in infants and the elderly, which are the most helpless group in the population. AI robotic surgery helps improve the quality of life for these people. “The AI will tell the surgeon what is the best potential outcome based on thousands of procedures done previously which allows for better outcomes for kids, those who have had trauma and are productive members of society, and people later in their life, who usually succumb to degenerative bone disease.”

In 2020, about 28 million people did not have health insurance and most Americans cannot afford an unexpected cost. “When people go bankrupt from a medical expense, it's not just the costs of the bills, it is also the fact that they cannot earn money while they are also being charged for the medical bills. They are unable to be productive even if they have medical insurance. Their income goes down while their costs are going up.” The widespread technology and information can help those who are in need of surgery. This leads to an overall better life for the patients with more people becoming self-sufficient and able to produce more goods or services for the country which helps the overall GDP and output. The more everyone is healthy and able to perform work, the less people we will have out on the streets and there are more opportunities for people to develop better technology and AI systems to help even more people.

Larry Lazo gives an example of his next-door neighbor who had spine surgery and how it took him 6-8 weeks to recover which means that he was not able to work and contribute to the workforce. For people who live paycheck to paycheck, they are missing out on pay and being productive. “Anything that can help a patient recover faster and get back to work sooner is a huge plus. The reason why they are able to get back to work sooner is because the procedures are being done less invasively [by the AI], there is less cutting, less trauma to the body, more precise, fewer complications in healing.” The complications are eliminated with AI and the services of the technology allow people to get back in the workforce sooner.

Business benefit

When it comes to business benefits in the medical industry, it’s not comparable to any other type of business growth. In the medical field, when a procedure is big and also utilizes technology, it is presumed to be overly expensive, which is negative because this also means the hospitals are spending more money on these procedures. The issue with these big risky surgeries is the chance of readmission of a patient due to a complication from surgery.

When a patient is readmitted due to a complication, this brings a lot of physical and financial stress on many patients, because many scans and tests are required to see how to solve the complication that arose. This later leads to the possibility of another surgery for that patient to have to endure. The average amount paid by a readmitted patient racks up to about $80,000 in medical bills. The other issue that arises is that while the patient is spending lots of money on recovery, the hospital has to also spend lots of money when complications arise. Both the individual patient and the overall healthcare system are heavily affected by these hurdles.

What DePuy Synthes and Brainlab are striving for will help reduce those hurdles and has the potential to be beneficial to both sides, the patient and the healthcare industry. Although the robot does cost more to use at that point, the reduction of trauma it causes on people as well as reducing their overall total cost of care continuum shows for it to have such a high ceiling of growth in today's society.

Social and environmental benefit

Societies and the healthcare system have benefited greatly from innovations in medical technology. Specifically, innovations in spinal surgery medical technology have greatly impacted the healing process for individuals. AI and Robotics have been used to map out a patient’s spine and calculate the best placements for rods to adjust spines. Instead of using a scalpel, an AI with numerous spinal procedures programmed can operate less invasively on the body. This results in a “better outcome for children, anyone with trauma, productive people in society, and for older people when bone diseases are most likely to occur.” These technologies have improved the quality of life for people and have greatly reduced risks. The reason patients recover faster is because the procedures are done less evasively. With this precision, this means that re-operation, complications, or readmission risks are practically eliminated. Anything that can help a patient recover faster and get back to work sooner is seen as a great benefit in the medical industry.

There are instances when people become bankrupt when dealing with medical expenses. Most problems with medical expenses come from the inability to be productive during injury or medical recovery. The costs are going up while income is being spent for the individual making it difficult. The cost for readmission for spinal surgery will be a minimum of about “$70,000-$80,000 because of all the scans and pre-surgery procedures.” By initially paying more for a robotic surgery, the likelihood of returning or having complications can reduce the total potential cost of the medical expense. Reducing the time and risk for any medical procedure can eliminate the chances of having to pay more in the long-run. This gives people the reassurance that they can properly handle their medical condition when it arises. Moreover, people can return to their jobs sooner allowing them to better handle their medical expenses.

Interview

Larry W. Lazo, Capital Equipment Sales Manager

Photo of interviewee

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Johnson and Johnson

Johnson and Johnson

New Brunswick, US

Business Website: https://www.jnj.com/

Year Founded: 1886

Number of Employees: 10000+

Johnson and Johnson is a holding company involved in the business end of the medical world. The companies work varies from engaging in HIV research to mass-producing the Covid-19 vaccine in 2020. The spinal surgery division of the company, DePuy Sythes, works with manufacturers to implement AI technology within the operating room.