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Medtronic CEO: We'll have self-driving surgical robots

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Medtronic Chairman & CEO Geoff Martha joins 'Influencers with Andy Serwer' to discuss the future of med-tech and the latest advancements in medical technology.

Video transcript

ANDY SERWER: So you mentioned technology. I want to drill down a little bit into that, particularly AI, Geoff, because you guys have made a priority of incorporating AI into some of your products and services, including robot-assisted surgery. What's the approval process for that like in the United States? And what do patients think about that?

GEOFFREY MARTHA: Well, our patients love it. I mean, in hospitals that have robots, they go out of their way to market that to the patients. There's a strong pull from patients with robots, and I can't necessarily explain that, but they do like it. They like the idea of cutting edge technology. You know, people are always looking to get better outcomes, and they associate technology with that. And what's more technological in advanced technology than a robot? And so you're seeing robotics in surgery quite a bit.

And so we've got actually today three robots. One we just launched in certain-- like Latin America and just recently got approval in Europe. And it's what they call a soft tissue robot. So it's not cutting into bone. It's more around your thoracic and abdominal area, so gynecology procedures, urology procedures like prostate surgery, things like that. And there's one major competitor out there, Intuitive Surgical. And so we're the second major player to launch a robot. And so that's one. A lot of expectations, high expectations there.

We have a spine robot that actually does back surgery and orthopedic surgery. And then we have a cranial robot for tumor resection and other procedures in your brain. And over time, we'll have others. And these robots can do more than one procedure, but they are purpose built for specific procedures. Like I mentioned, soft tissue versus cutting bone or hard tissue. And they have different capabilities. And AI-- incorporating AI into that is a big part of it. At some point, we will have-- first, you're going to have real-time feedback to surgeons.

So some of the robots are surgeon, like, assisted, where they're something with a joystick, if you will. The surgeon's driving, looking at a computer screen, driving the robot. And pretty soon, you're going to see AI come in and say, look, Mr. Doctor so-and-so, you know, you're going, Dr. Jones, your next move should be this. You should make sure you don't cut this. Make sure you stay away from that. So we're heading that way pretty quickly. And over time, just like getting a self-driving car, I think you're going to have self-driving surgical robots.

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