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Locally developed surgical robot unveiledDeveloper expects to reduce costs for patients, hospitals
  • By Lee Hye-seon
  • Published 2018.03.15 15:24
  • Updated 2018.03.15 17:58
  • comments 0

Revo-i, the first locally developed laparoscopic surgical robot, is about to challenge foreign rivals that have dominated the surgical robot market in Korea.

Meere Company, the developer of the machine, held a launching ceremony at Vista Walkerhill Seoul on Wednesday, inviting hospital officials and physicians.

Revo-i obtained approval from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in August last year. Hospitals were allowed to use the machine from this year.

The robotic system consists of “control console” where a surgeon sits on to lead the operation, “operation cart” where robotic arms are located, and “vision cart” through which other medical staffs can observe the procedures. The robot can be used for general endoscopic surgeries including cholecystectomy and prostatectomy.

Kim Joon-hong, CEO of Meere Company

“It was impossible for a small- and medium-sized firm like us to develop a surgical robot in Korea where no surgical robot existed if we didn’t have a corporate vision that a company should shine like a light,” said Kim Joon-hong, CEO of Meere Company.

He went on to say, “When I took office as CEO five years ago, the first thing I heard was that it was difficult to do clinical trials on Revo-i. Thanks to the support of the medical community, however, the government, academic circles, research institutions, and the members of Meere Company, we made it.”

Kim noted that it would be possible for the company to expand into overseas markets, backed up by “the world’s best robotic technologies” and globally-competitive medical service quality.

I will do my best to make the company lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution in reality. The success of Revo-i will be an opportunity not only for Meere Company but also for the whole medical community’s success,” Kim said. “The robot will give state-of-the-art medical benefits. I hope this product will be remembered as a successful model of cooperation among industry, academia, and research.”

The global surgical robot market grew 17 percent last year and is expected to expand 15 percent this year, according to industry sources.

Lee Jae-seon, executive director of surgical robot division at Meere, noted that patients are increasingly complaining about high costs of existing surgical robots, despite the fast growth of the industry. “Patients’ financial burdens are seriously heavy. They are three times more expensive than laparotomy, and two times more costly than laparoscopic surgery,” Lee said.

“Excluding the national health insurance, patients have to pay seven times more for robotic surgery than that for laparotomy, and five times more than laparoscopic surgery. Unlike news reports and general assumptions, robotic surgeries put a heavy financial burden on hospitals, too. Why is it expensive for patients and hospitals?” Lee asked.

“That is because the companies that have dominated the market for 20 years have expensive equipment, management and operation costs, and consumables costs. For a hospital to avoid loss from robotic surgeries, it has to pay about 10 million won ($9,400) for a single operation and carry out at least 140 surgeries a year,” he insisted.

Meere Company’s Rovo-i will be a good alternative for patients who hesitate a surgery due to high cost and for hospitals that suffer chronic losses, Lee emphasized.

Revo-I’s performance and convenience are not inferior to existing products that dominate the market, he said. Clinical trials have proved that the robot was competent in reducing operating time and hemorrhage, compared with rivals.

“The most important factors are safety, efficacy, performance, convenience, and price competitiveness. We received the ministry’s nod on safety and efficacy. Through clinical trials on Revo-i, experts confirmed the robot’s performance and announced it on many research papers,” said Kim Jun-gu, head of management and planning division at Meere.

He said his company could offer customized consultation for each hospital to drastically lower the cost of robotic surgery.

“Our goal is to provide a total solution for robotic surgery rather than selling devices such as a system and consumables,” Kim said. “Sales consultants and engineers will be assigned to each hospital, check the ratios of operations and frequency, and provide customized consulting service to maximize the number of surgeries and lower the cost per surgery.”

Meere expects that hospitals will cut the cost of surgery by 42 percent through such consultations. Hospitals that were reluctant to introduce surgical robots will have the opportunity to run them, the company said.

Revo-i also has a strong point that it provides training tailored to the surgeon’s experience, knowledge and circumstances, rather than making the surgeon adjust to the techniques of the surgical robot.

Meere said it would provide Revo-ii education for surgeons, too.

The company has developed REVO-SIM, a 3D surgical simulator, jointly with a European firm for robotic surgery training. With REVO-SIM, cholecystectomy, prostatectomy, and gynecologic surgery can be practiced as if they were operated.

Having developed Leboe, it has specialized in displays, semiconductors, lasers, and 3D imaging. Since 2005, it has been focused on the development of surgical robots. In 2007, Levoi was awarded 20 billion won for the last 10 years, and 40 billion won for research and development.

Meere Company specializes in displays, semiconductors, lasers, and 3D imaging. The tech firm has focused on the development of surgical robots since 2005. In 2007, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy chose Rebo-i a national project for the surgical robot sector.

The company received about 20 billion won in total for the past decade for the development of Revo-i. It has spent 40 billion won in R&D for the product.

(Caption)

Kim Joon-hong, CEO of Meere Company

lhs@docdocdoc.co.kr

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