The coverage of the 2020-ish Tokyo Olympic Games has been unprecedented. In many countries, the television is flooded with channels covering every sport imaginable. If you can’t find an event in the TV listings, then you are sure to be able to discover it streaming online. Not only are the sports shown, but there is commentary for each complete with play-by-play, color analysis, and replay technology in order to really break down the action.
Viewership, though, is just the tip of the visual application technology at the Olympics. Most of these elite athletes are regularly videoed as they perform in competitions or in practice. These recordings are then passed through detailed evaluation and analysis, many of which are computer-based. Sometimes, the most minute change in form can have tremendous effect to the athlete’s performance.
What if this same kind of thorough video coverage and detailed analysis could used for something more important than just sport? What if it might be used to not only improve lives, but save lives? It can, and it is. In fact, that is just what one Israeli company is seeking to accomplish through their AI-based surgical software platform.
Theator, a company that was launched in Israel and is now headquartered in Palo Alto, California, is working to “put defining intraoperative moments in the hands of surgeons so they can continuously perfect their craft.”i What that complicated quote means is this: a doctor is preparing to perform a surgery, but they have only a little experience with it. The first tool that Theator will offer is a database of detailed videos breaking down every step of the procedure, as well as many of the problems that may arise during the surgery and how to remedy them. This will allow the surgeon to refresh their memory of the process and prepare themself ahead of time in case there is an issue. During the surgery, this exhaustive library of videos is available at a moment’s notice to the surgeon if something does go awry.ii
During the surgery, video capture technology is employed to record the procedure. Once the operation is completed, the video is analyzed by AI technology and within hours a fully annotated summary of the surgeon’s performance is generated. This will allow the doctor to see what went well and where there might be areas for improvement. These reports can then be collected by surgical departments for analysis to see where the team is strong and where more training might be needed.iii Again, in the same way it is used for the athlete, this type of technology can be used to improve the skills and knowledge of those in the operating room fixing bodies and saving lives.
Many hospitals and surgical centers have bought into the concept. In fact, the world-renowned Mayo Clinic is partnering with Theator to bring in their technology.iv “Intraoperative video footage, and by extension video-based analyses, is at the core of surgical innovation,” said Dr. Tamir Wolf, Theator’s CEO and Co-founder. “Surgeons, medical systems, and forward-thinking professional societies have all come to realize its potential value to enhancing surgical care and patient safety.”v
While headquartered in the U.S., Theator has kept their busy R&D center back home in Israel. Never satisfied with what is, they are constantly looking for how they can evolve their system to even greater levels. This attitude has led to the kind of breakthroughs that caused business magazine Fast Company to name Theator to its 2021 “most innovative companies” list.vi
The world’s hospitals are the home to many brilliant surgeons. But it takes time and experience for a beginning surgeon to achieve “brilliant” status. Now, the same type of technology that can help an athlete become the best is available to those doctors with the same drive toward excellence. And those of us who are on the receiving end of medical care can once again give a grateful high five to Israeli innovation.
i “The Surgical Intelligence Platform: Seize Your Defining Moments.” Theator, 21 July 2021, theator.io/.
iv “Surgical Intel Startup Theator to Work with Mayo Clinic on Education, Training.” NoCamels, 27 July 2021, nocamels.com/2021/07/theator-mayo-clinic-surgical-intel/.
v Theator. “Theator Raises $15.5M Series a Round to Scale Its Surgical Intelligence Platform.” Theator Raises $15.5M Series A Round to Scale Its Surgical Intelligence Platform, 9 Feb. 2021, www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/theator-raises-15-5m-series-a-round-to-scale-its-surgical-intelligence-platform-301224644.html.
vi “Surgical Intel Startup Theator to Work with Mayo Clinic on Education, Training.”