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Johnson & Johnson Bolsters Digital Surgery Tools with Verb Surgical

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), parent company to DePuy Synthes Companies, continues to strengthen its offerings for digital surgery. 

At the close of 2019, the company entered into an agreement to acquire the remaining ownership stake in Verb Surgical. Verb's robotics and data science capabilities are expected to enhance JNJ's healthcare leadership and global reach while making medical interventions smarter, less invasive and more personalized.

While Verb Surgical is a separate JNJ development project from others, such as the VELYS™ system for orthopedic procedures, the company will seek to leverage insights gathered from this transaction across the organization.

JNJ's VELYS Digital Surgery platform, introduced in late 2019, will pave the way in orthopedics with a platform that comprises connected technologies that leverage data insights for patients, surgeons and healthcare systems before, during and after surgery. VELYS 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 exercise activities, sharing images for incision maintenance 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, which JNJ acquired in 2019, 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.

Ultimately, JNJ plans to combine robotics, enhanced visualization, advanced instrumentation, machine learning, data analytics and end-to-end connectivity. In 2019, JNJ also acquired robotics company Auris Health. The move 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.

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