Before you read on, please be aware that the analysis below is my opinion only and may include flawed assumptions and inaccuracy of logic; therefore, caveat emptor applies here.
As far as I’m concerned, the most prevalent chase has always been the human need to fulfill life prime directive- to procreate and multiply pronto! Procreation is a natural giving but the multiplying factor is being improvised by the creative part of the human thought. “Eureka! We can multiply by building machines that think and move like us!” And thus sparked the longest and persistent chase for robotic extension. Practically most science fictions have robots in their stories in one form or another. In a manner of speaking, there is an inner urge in human to adopt robotic extension as if it’s built into our gene.
We should all thank Intuitive Surgical Inc. for its effort in promoting adoption of robotically-assisted surgical device (RASD). The Da Vinci dominated not because of monopoly but because it’s extremely difficult to get a new robotically-assisted surgical device to pass the FDA tough screening process. Per CEO Pope in his recent earning call update:
“Another key goal for 2017 was to obtain Senhance FDA clearance. We obtained 510(k) clearance for Senhance in October of 2017. The 510(k) process is rigorous, particularly for robotics, which combines hardware, software, visualization and instrumentation into a system that’s been utilized to perform precise task in and around vessels and vital organs.”
Notice the reference to the “combination” of:
into a system that will be used to perform:
- precise task in and around vessels and vital organs
Precisely because we are dealing with a robotically-assisted surgical device that will slice and dice the internal human vessels and organs, it’s extremely important that there are no “bugs” inside the software that may alter the intended direction of the surgeon controlling the remote control. Furthermore, the hardware must be reliable and not have the potential to get stuck in a way that could cause harm to the patient. Imagine a robotic arm that got jammed in the middle of the operation and surgeons could not move the arm or the lap tool away from the patient.
Basically, the hardware and software have to be TOP NOTCH to even pass the FDA toughest screening process. After almost two decades of domination by the Da Vinci, Senhance appeared on the scene and received clearance from FDA against all odd to compete with the Da Vinci system.
Now think about this:
- For 17 years in service, the Da Vinci had no competition
- Senhance received FDA clearance on Oct 2017
- Senhance received CE Mark for European market few years earlier before FDA clearance
- So it’s possible that Senhance was conceived after the Da Vinci had been available for about 10 years
- Hence, it is conceivable that Senhance design might be the result of the following:
- to counter the weaknesses of the Da Vinci
- lack of haptic
- lack of direct camera control by the surgeon
- lack of flexibility in robotic arms positioning
- lack of flexibility in patient positioning
- lack of flexibility in performing hybrid surgeries
- lack of 5mm and 3mm laparoscopic tools
- lack of reusable tools
- to offer a choice that is completely different in design from the Da Vinci
- independent arms with its own bases
- a more relaxed sitting position for the surgeons
- easily accessible to hybrid surgery without the robotic arms getting in the way
- trocar compatibility with standard laparoscopic tools
- to counter the weaknesses of the Da Vinci
- Surgeons are highly intelligent and INDEPENDENT people and they DO have their own PREFERENCES of what they like or don’t like.
- I’m BETTING that there are plenty of surgeons who simply don’t like the way the Da Vinci operates
- I’m BETTING that Senhance offers an EXCELLENT counter option to the Da Vinci that is as common as people who preferred Mercedes Benz over the Cadillac.
- I’m BETTING that there are enough surgeons who LOVE the way Senhance is designed and will embrace the choice offered up by the FDA
- Surgeons who have not embraced the Da Vinci now has a chance to review their option with the Senhance to advance themselves to the inevitable (my humble opinion only) adoption of the robotically-assisted surgical device.
- I’m BETTING that Senhance robotically-assisted surgical device will be adopted by the laparoscopy market simply because Senhance’s design was created with laparoscopy in mind.
Once the adoption road is established in 2018, I’m BETTING that the chase for the Senhance system will begin in earnest starting 2019. It’s like anything else, once a new tech is adopted by the main players, everyone else will want to be part of the bandwagon. If it’s good or better, others will follow.
In summary, the more I look at it, the more I believe Senhance is an irrefutable choice finally made available by the FDA thanks to the persistent effort of TransEnterix team!
To sum it up, the CHASE is ON!
Don’t forget, all the above are my opinion only!
Good Luck and may fortune blesses all TRXC investors.
My 2 cents.
From my camera: