Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), parent company to DePuy Synthes Companies, entered into an agreement to acquire the remaining stake in Verb Surgical. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2020. Verb's robotics and data science capabilities are expected to bolster JNJ's healthcare leadership and global reach while making medical interventions smarter, less invasive and more personalized.
While Verb Surgical is a separate development project from others, such as VELYS™, the company will seek to leverage insights across the organization.
JNJ has continued to grow its digital surgery portfolio, combining robotics, enhanced visualization, advanced instrumentation, machine learning, data analytics and end-to-end connectivity. Its 2019 acquisition of robotics company Auris Health accelerated JNJ's entry into digital surgery with Monarch, addressing non-orthopedic applications but leading a strong cadence of launches expected over the next several years. In 2018, JNJ acquired Orthotaxy, developer of a robot-assisted system for total and partial knee reconstruction. JNJ's VELYS Digital Surgery platform, introduced in 2019, will pave the way in orthopedics with a platform that comprises connected technologies that leverage data insights for patients, surgeons and health care systems across the entire care continuum, before, during and after surgery.
The VELYS system is expected to evolve, first focusing on joint replacement with existing technologies like the KINCISE automated surgical system and JOINTPOINT navigation software. Over time, VELYS will engage fully in four areas:
- Patient Solutions and Optimization: In 2020, JNJ will pilot technology to engage and communicate with patients before and after surgery, confirming completion of activities, sharing images for incision care and connecting directly with care teams. JNJ is exploring integration with electronic health record data to predict patient-specific risks and optimize pre-operative care.
- Surgical Planning: JOINTPOINT is designed for analysis of implant selection and positioning through non-invasive computer navigation, pre-surgical digital templating and case planning. JNJ plans to invest in technology to create 3D models from 2D x-rays, as well as capabilities to provide predictive analytics on optimal implant placement and alignment.
- Surgical Implementation: KINCISE is designed to improve precision and make hip and knee replacement less physically demanding for surgeons. Future robotic solutions will aid in surgical accuracy and efficiency.
- Post-Op Monitoring: JNJ is investigating the monitoring of patient performance through sensors and wearable technology that can gather data about recovery that was not previously available previously.
Other companies developing or marketing robotic assistance tools for orthopedic surgery include Corin, Globus Medical, Medtronic, NuVasive, Smith+Nephew, Stryker, Think Surgical and TINAVI.