Cofounders Andre Chow and Jean Nehme were surgical trainees and as such experienced many of the problems affecting surgery today. One such problem is how to train medical students on a much bigger scale. Chow explains that surgeons are trained as apprentices, which works well but scales very poorly to meet the global need of surgery. “We wanted to use technology to improve standards of surgical training around the world and to have an impact on patient care.”
TechCrunch quotes Chow as saying Touch Surgery has 1.5 million users worldwide already. The company’s app currently covers more than 75 procedures, but the company has ambitious goals for further growth. “We already have the world’s largest digital surgical community. We are operating on a completely different scale to other surgical training solutions. The Johnson & Johnson deal feels like a culmination of our efforts to date.”
One new goal is to step back into the operating room and apply the Touch Surgery technology to aid the operative environment itself. In order to get here, the company spent the last few years ‘truly understanding surgical procedures – how they are done and how surgeons make decisions in the operating room. To aid its goal, the company has raised more than $10m from some big-name investors, including Balderton Capital, Redline Capital and others.
Novel delivery mechanism
The company is acting within a highly competitive simulation market. But using iPads as the delivery mechanism for the training, is a novel approach, Chow states. “Simulators have benefits and can be proven to have a positive effect on surgical training. However, I think everyone in the field acknowledges that simulation hasn’t yet had the impact on surgery that we had all hoped.”
Touch Surgery’s solution has the ability to reach a much broader audience, because only an iPad is needed. “To use a physical simulator requires access to an appropriate facility with the appropriate staffing in a hospital. Expensive simulators are often kept locked away, with high maintenance costs.”