Interview Synopsis

Intuitive Surgical – clinician user analysis of da Vinci system

  • Public Equity
  • Healthcare
  • North America

The surgical robotics market – projected to be worth USD 22bn by 2028 – has been dominated for the past two decades by Intuitive Surgical and its da Vinci surgical machines.* But as Intuitive's core patents expire, the company is facing fresh competition from Medtronic, according to a division chief at a non-profit medical centre based in Berkshire, Massachusetts.

Hospitals cut funding for surgical robotics

In an Interview with Third Bridge Forum, the specialist said the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing shortages as well as the cost of living crisis were causing a “big drop” in surgical volumes. We also heard hospitals are “haemorrhaging money” as they attempt to recruit and maintain nursing staff numbers. Simultaneously, we were told that hospital incomes are being reduced as inpatient procedure codes are pushed to outpatient or observation procedure codes – cutting hospital insurance reimbursement by 60%. 

Meanwhile, the specialist expects to see greater adoption of robotics in general surgery as the workforce shifts to younger surgeons who are more “comfortable” with robotic surgery. They also predict robotics in urology to grow slowly and expect less growth in gynaecology.  

We were told to “keep an eye” on Medtronic as it seeks approval for its surgical robotic system Hugo. The specialist said Hugo is “well positioned” for ambulatory surgical centres in the outpatient market due to its low cost, which could come at the expense of da Vinci placements. The specialist also raised concern about Intuitive’s “aggressive” sales force. 

Despite this, the specialist said Intuitive’s da Vinci remains “sticky”, with few hospitals likely to “throw out” their robots. They told us that from a functional perspective, there is “no great innovation” between the different products on the market. Rather, Intuitive’s biggest challenge could come from shrinking hospital budgets. Hospitals are likely to “hunker down” and avoid buying major equipment as operating costs increase. 

Click here to access all the human insights in Third Bridge Forum’s “Intuitive Surgical – clinician user analysis of da Vinci system” Interview.

* FT

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The information used in compiling this document has been obtained by Third Bridge from experts participating in Forum Interviews. Third Bridge does not warrant the accuracy of the information and has not independently verified it. It should not be regarded as a trade recommendation or form the basis of any investment decision.

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