Robotic-assisted surgery has helped to advance the medical world, offering minimally invasive approaches that involve small incisions and increased precision. Compared to open surgery, such an approach can help accelerate the recovery process, depending on the procedure, and reduce the cost of care for patients and hospitals.
Due to its many benefits, robotic-assisted surgery has been widely embraced in East Asia, and Taiwanese surgeons have played an important role in the adoption and global development of new technologies in the industry. Taiwan’s strengths in this area have made it a natural choice for investment by medical technology multinational Intuitive, a pioneer and global leader in robotic-assisted, minimally invasive surgery.
Founded in 1995, Intuitive has contributed to the field of minimally invasive care through the development and manufacturing of advanced robotic systems, end-to-end learning, and various value-added support services. These products and services help surgeons and hospitals build strong robotic-assisted surgical programs and provide the potential benefits of robotic-assisted surgery to their patients. Intuitive’s da Vinci system is an important choice for many surgeons globally due to its ability to assist surgeons in performing various types of minimally invasive surgeries – including urologic, gynecological, and colorectal surgery – with great precision.
The da Vinci surgical system was one of the first robotic-assisted, minimally invasive surgical systems cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Four successive generations of the da Vinci have since been launched. To date, surgeons in 67 countries around the world have used da Vinci technologies to perform more than 8.5 million procedures.
The first da Vinci procedure in Taiwan took place in 2004 and since then more than 50,000 robotic-assisted surgical procedures have been performed on the island, an important contribution to Taiwan’s advanced healthcare system.
Jason Yang, vice president and general manager of Intuitive Taiwan, stresses the da Vinci system’s numerous benefits. With its cutting-edge technology, Yang says, the system can help surgeons reduce patient blood loss, length of stay (LOS), and risk of readmission, which enhances patient wellbeing.
The da Vinci’s unique operating table with isocenter movement creates a virtual pivot point for surgical instruments that can provide an ideal working angle for surgeons and care teams. Yang points out that for surgeons, the system’s ergonomic design – particularly its console at which surgeons can perform procedures while seated, also provides comfort during surgical procedures.
Following the official establishment of its Taiwan office in 2019, Intuitive has expanded its operations on the island through a series of creative efforts. Yang says that one of the company’s first moves was to install the da Vinci system in a truck that then traveled around Taiwan, visiting more than 40 hospitals, two university campuses, and several events – a total of more than 1,200 kilometers in less than a year. Over a thousand medical staff and students were able to test the system in a non-clinical scenario during this campaign, Yang says.
In June 2020, Intuitive signed a memorandum of understanding with Chang Gung Medical Foundation to build a training center that was completed in December. The center aims to synergize the training process for surgeons and establish international standards for robotic-assisted, minimally invasive surgery.
Intuitive’s multi-phase training pathway incorporates hardware, software, experienced trainers, physician educators, and training centers. In addition, surgeons receive online training modules and video instruction, which are accessible throughout their career. Worldwide, more than 55,000 physicians – including 700 Taiwanese surgeons – have received training on the da Vinci surgical system.
Yang says that training will play a particularly important role in Intuitive’s plans to continue expanding its operations in Taiwan.
“We want to increase training, and we also want to hone the skillsets of surgeons who wish to perform robotic surgery,” says Yang. “Lastly, we want to help healthcare providers improve the efficiency of patient flow, beginning from when a patient enters the hospital to when they leave following their surgery.”
Yang emphasizes that patient value is Intuitive’s highest priority in everything it does. “Patient value is at the heart of our company,” he says. “If you ask our employees what they believe in, they always say it is putting the patient first.”