Nurep is leveraging increased connectivity in hospitals to offer on-demand technical support in the operating room. Doctors only need a tablet to connect with remote medical device sales reps.
Even the best surgeon in the world always has something to learn. The sophisticated nature of medical robots, equipment and apparatus of all types means that physicians need to constantly update their proficiency with tools that are being developed and enhanced on an ongoing basis. In the United States, for every operation involving a medical device – such as a pacemaker – or the use of a robot, the law requires the presence of a representative of the device manufacturer to guide and assist the surgeon in using the equipment. Medical device manufacturers therefore have to send out armies of reps to be present in person at the thousands of operations that take place every day. This practice is both expensive and inefficient, given that everything may depend on the current availability of the rep. Nurep, a young San Francisco-based startup which has just emerged from the Blueprint Health incubator, is aiming to improve this archaic system by leveraging of today’s higher levels of connectivity and mobile technology penetration in US hospitals.
A dedicated telepresence app
Nurep provides a mobile platform that enables every doctor to call a medical device company rep at any moment during an operation. Using an iPad, surgeons can easily go online and access interactive manuals and video demos for casual technical questions about a machine. In case of emergency, they can call a company rep directly. In this case, the system uses a proprietary algorithm to identify the best representative to send, based on their location, expertise and availability. The system then launches a video-conference via the iPad to put the rep in touch with the operating theatre. Surgeons also have the option of calling their preferred rep, if they would rather always work with the same one. The rep uses his/her iPad to zoom into the operating theatre to see the equipment in question at close range. As for the connection, “we don’t use Skype or Google Hangout,” stresses Nurep co-founder Paul Schultz. “We use extremely powerful video technology which guarantees the quality and reliability of the connection. This is a dedicated B2B tool.”
More ubiquitous customer support for medical device manufacturers
“Until now there was no 24/7 support for physicians, and that can be a real problem,” explains Paul Schultz. “Not being able to speak to a rep when you need to can sow panic in the operating room.” Several cases, such as the Taylor case dating back to 2008, which has just gone to trial, have demonstrated the risks incurred when a surgeon lacks training on the equipment he is using or fails to obtain proper support from the equipment manufacturer. According to Schultz, Nurep will not only prevent these kinds of mishaps; the system will also benefit manufacturers of medical devices as their reps will be able to support a greater number of doctors, at a lower cost and more reliably. Manufacturers will therefore be able to reduce expenditure while at the same time increasing sales, argues the Nurep founder.