Galen Robotics: Pioneering Robots as a Service in Microsurgery

Bruce Lichorowic, President and CEO
Four years ago, when Johns Hopkins University reached out to Bruce Lichorowic and Dave Saunders to commercialize a new next-generation robot, optimized for high precision microsurgery, the duo took the challenge head-on. In a time when technology marvels were making an indelible mark in the medical arena, it proved ripe for the serial entrepreneurs to leverage their deep expertise in `software as a service’ and medical robotics to set in motion their third startup—Galen Robotics.

The Galen story is one off the beaten path. The headwind in the market is that the current first-generation robots with their hefty million-dollar price tags are unfortunately idling on the hallways with a very low percentage of surgeons drawing on its benefits. Today, when CIOs and COOs of hospitals envision ways to spend their money more efficiently, “Our game plan is to address the vital requirement of bringing to market a less expensive and versatile robot with the expectation of driving higher adoption and utilization among surgeons,” says Lichorowic, president and CEO of Galen Robotics.

To this end, Galen Robotics is all set to be one of the first surgical robot companies to launch as a service model. The one of a kind win-win business model of ‘digital surgery as a service’ will be a boon for hospital administrators as there will be no capital expenditure for the robot. “We are trying to do our part to lower the spiraling healthcare costs and give hospital administrators the ability to buy only what they need, when they need it, while driving down costs and delivering to the surgeons a surgical robot that addresses their needs.”

The robot has been designed with input from the valuable recommendations of over a hundred world-class surgeons specialized in various disciplines. Neurosurgery, Otolaryngology, and Orthopedics sometimes require surgeons to operate within very tight spaces dealing with delicate parts of the body. With a trend towards minimally invasive surgery, these procedures tend to require long, delicate instruments, which lead to nearly super-human dexterity requirements. Early research shows this robot may offer a nearly 3x boost in manual dexterity simply by manipulating the instrument in real-time coordination with the surgeon’s hands.


Our game plan is to address the vital requirement of bringing to market a less expensive and versatile robot that will drive higher adoption among surgeons


In other settings, the operation space is often so tight, it is difficult for a technician to assist by holding an endoscope or any other tool. Here, the Galen robot can lend a helping hand to the surgeons by steadily holding any tool for hours or holding back a tissue or a body part. The robot expects to expand the limits of surgeon’s hand by helping them to operate safely, quickly, and precisely. The benefits translate to tool stability, tremor reduction, and extending a ‘third hand.’

Galen Robotics also fulfills surgeon-demand for versatile, configurable, and portable surgical assistants that can be easily moved between ORs. “The Galen robot is not a one-trick pony,” states Lichorowic. The added advantage for surgeons will be the ability to customize the personal settings such that the next time they log in, the robot will replicate the previous settings, and the surgeon can immediately start the procedure.

The Galen Robotics team plans to submit its first submission to the FDA later this year, and add follow-on functionalities once the first version of the Galen robot is cleared. Future plans introduce virtual fixtures, augmented reality, focused machine learning capabilities, and integration with other devices like microscopes, and sensors available in the OR. “These functionalities are like an à la carte menu, which can be availed by hospitals as needed,” explains Lichorowic.

Galen expects to be delivering robots in 2021, ushering in a new paradigm of commoditization of medical devices in the medical world.

Company
Galen Robotics

Headquarters
Baltimore, MD

Management
Bruce Lichorowic, President and CEO

Description
Galen Robotics is all set to be one of the first surgical robot companies to launch as a service model. The company is addressing the vital requirement of bringing to market a less expensive and versatile robot with the expectation of driving higher adoption and utilization among surgeons. The one of a kind win-win business model of ‘digital surgery as a service’ will be a boon for hospital administrators as there will be no capital expenditure for the robot. The hospital administrators will have the ability to buy only what they need, when they need it, while surgeons benefit from a surgical robot that addresses their needs. The robot expects to expand the limits of surgeon’s hand by helping them to operate safely, quickly, and precisely. The benefits translate to tool stability, tremor reduction, and extending a ‘third hand.’ Galen Robotics also fulfills surgeon-demand for versatile, configurable, and portable surgical assistants that can be easily moved between ORs

Galen Robotics