Peter Verrillo is the CEO and cofounder of Enhatch, a med-tech company developing the Intelligent Surgery Ecosystem, an open connective network of technologies to enable personalised surgeries at scale, to save, improve, and prolong life.
OPN: As a researcher in focus, could you tell us more about your job and training in the medical devices industry?
PV: I started my career as an engineer at the Fortune 500 medical device company, Stryker. I’m proud to have been a key designer on the Scorpio knee and then led the next generation Scorpio NRG implant system. This became a signature product line that continues to help millions of patients worldwide.
After that, I founded and successfully sold a company focused on shoulder implants. Our products were a clinical and financial success for Tornier, then Wright Medical and recently back at Stryker with hundreds of thousands of patients.
Now, as the CEO and founder of Enhatch, I’m focused on bringing the power of Artificial Intelligence and Technology to enhance the entire surgical journey.
OPN: Tell us more about your new methods using AI?
PV: In healthcare today, data remains fragmented — and that’s a huge missed opportunity for incredible insights for the future. An Intelligent Surgery Ecosystem like Enhatch uses AI to connect the entire surgical journey, capturing and analysing patient data through each step of the process to automate and accelerate clinical workflows.
We envision an open, digital ecosystem of curated innovations that work seamlessly together before, during, and after surgery. This will allow us to learn from every surgery and develop better solutions for every patient, in real time.
OPN: As the demand for orthopaedic surgery increases, how will your technique help with the challenges currently facing the healthcare industry?
PV: We are in a challenging time, where the growth and success of the industry is starting to put an incredible pressure on the system. Orthopaedic surgeries like total hip or knee replacements are broadly implanted today. As demand outpaces surgeons 7 to 1 and each year that gap compounds the issue. Over the coming decade, surgeons will be pressed to operate faster and manage more patients. As medicine continues to push towards personalised surgeries, this creates another level of complexity for orthopaedics.
We think there needs to be a return to the foundational pillars of medicine, collaboration. Our field has always been driven by strong partnerships between surgeons and medical device innovators. This collaboration helped create clinically successful implant and instrument systems, helped train tens of thousands of surgeons and helped rehabilitate hundreds of millions of people.
Companies need to embrace collaboration at scale to improve the time, efficiency and outcomes from surgery.
OPN: What could this mean for the patient experience, management strategies and surgical outcomes looking forward?
PV: Without intervention, the patient experience will become more challenging. Patients will have to wait many months or years to get surgery. When patients are unable to get the necessary orthopaedic procedures they tend to experience greater weight gain and immobility, making surgery less productive. We have seen a glimpse of this from Covid, where delayed surgeries severely damage a patient’s health and make them more susceptible to premature death.
OPN: What’s the next step in your research and the development of technology in the operating room?
PV: We have a lot of solutions coming through the pipeline that will make big strides for us, our customers and our ecosystem partners. We are currently releasing the next generation of our product, which allows our customers to take very complex processes and distill them into a simple set of steps for surgeons, sales reps and engineers to produce personalised surgery at scale.
We have also validated our knee solution on one of the broadest datasets tested to date and can produce sub-millimeter precision with very limited X-ray imaging. Once cleared, this will open up a new foundation for our customers to build upon. Coupled with our developments in augmented reality, our surgical collaboration tools will be available later this year.
We are also actively onboarding several medical device innovators as ecosystem partners, this should bear fruit very soon in some coming announcements. You can follow our progress on Linkedin or visit our blog for more updates.
OPN: Are you planning to attend any orthopaedic events this year?
PV:: We are going to exhibit at NASS from October 12-15 in Chicago, IL, AAHKS from November 3-6 in Dallas, TX and will attend other industry events like AOFAS, AAOMS, ASES, ASTRO or RSNA to meet potential customers and ecosystem partners.
OPN: How do you think the future looks within the field of orthopaedics and what are your predictions for 2022 and the next decade?
- Expansion of Artificial Intelligence and the Ecosystem: AI can be the greatest equalizer in the world of medical devices and surgical innovation. Established companies in the space have tons of data to help drive product pipelines. But startups, small and medium-sized businesses often have incredible ideas with fewer resources. It can be hard to innovate, validate, and prove their designs and innovations. An AI driven ecosystem helps level the playing field and we see more and more companies starting to need and adopt this type of platform.
- The continued growth and focus on efficiency in ASCs (Ambulatory Surgery Centres): Many patients now prefer getting their orthopaedic procedures done in ASCs because they can be discharged the same day. Costs for procedures are lower, and they do not have to be admitted to a hospital. Instead, they can recover in the comfort of their homes. So, there is a high demand for this type of procedure. To accommodate this demand and contain costs, ASCs are hyper-focused on efficiency, and the ecosystem will make this possible.
- 3D Printing will continue to improve and drive the market: Over the past 30+ years, 3D printing has evolved into an incredibly powerful tool in our toolbox as engineers. The last ten years have shown incredible progress and most of that innovation has been unaided by artificial intelligence. The next ten years will create another leap forward in more advanced printing solutions that require less post-processing and the birth of bioprinting as an industry. It will be an incredible time to be alive.