Big backing to pair doctors with AI-assist technology

Can artificial intelligence enhance human surgeons with AI superpowers to reduce medical errors?
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

In May, I asked whether AI should assist in surgical decision-making. Following a recent venture round, investors seem to be voting yes as a company called Activ Surgical announces a $15 million raise. 

Activ rolled out an AI/ML platform called ActivEdge, which is designed to provide real-time intelligence and visualization to surgeons. The platform and its associated products will be initially available in the US market, with plans to commercialize globally in 2021. 

The goal of integrating AI decision making with human surgical capabilities is to reduce medical errors. Preventable surgical errors cost US health care $36 billion and cause 400,000+ deaths every year. Developers like Activ are trying to improve that performance by harnessing the best of human decision making and coupling it with AI/ML tools designed to assist surgeons. 

Activ's platform is hardware-agnostic and integrates computer vision, artificial intelligence, and robotics to enable existing surgical systems like scopes or robots to visualize and track tissue better than humans could. 

"We believe Activ Surgical's platform and technology are poised to transform the surgical space by enabling existing surgical systems and robots to visualize what surgeons can't and guide them, thus making surgeries safer, reducing errors and improving patient outcomes," says Ameena El-Bibany, principal, ARTIS Ventures, which led the recent round. "They have achieved major milestones in just a few years, advancing their technology from early proof of concept to their first market-ready product to be launched with early access partners in 2021. We look forward to partnering with the company to bring impact to both surgeons and patients."

To date, Activ Surgical has raised a total of $32 million. It will use proceeds from the latest financing round to accelerate U.S. commercialization and European expansion efforts of ActivEdge.

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