The Osceola area may have a big economic boost coming its way very soon thanks to a partnership between Florida Hospital’s Nicholson Center for Surgical Advancement and Mimic Technologies Inc., a leading manufacturer of robotic simulators.
At Florida Hospital Celebration Health’s Nicholson Center, roughly 10,000 surgeons are trained each year in robotic surgery, but thanks to the newly formed partnership the number could leap to 40,000 surgeons annually thanks to the eight new robotic simulators coming to the location, which are less-expensive models of the da Vinci robot, to train the surgeons with.
“Small hospitals don’t use it [the da Vinci robot] because it costs about $1.5 million,” says Roger Smith, Chief Technology Officer for the Nicholson Center. “[They may] want to teach surgeons to do robotic surgery, but if you have to teach them with a robot that costs $1.5 million, that’s expensive.”
Smith says that Mimic Technologies recognized this pricing issue and therefore created the robotic simulator, which costs about $100,000. He says that not all of a surgeon’s training can be done with a simulator, but at least half of the training that was done with the da Vinci robot can now be shifted to the simulators.
With the thousands of additional healthcare professionals, comes an estimated boost of about $26 million annually spread around to the area’s hotels, restaurants, attractions and various shops. When told of the partnership, Osceola resident Karen McFall was extremely excited.
“It’s great for the area and for local businesses,” she says. “Any time you hear of something like this, it has to put a smile on your face living here.”
However, the simulators won’t solely be used for training. Smith says that for the past year, he’s been using the simulators the Center already has to conduct research and the new simulators will also be used for that purpose.
Smith will also be using a simulator to conduct an experiment on UCF medical students. A simulator will be brought to the school and students will get to try it out. The goal is to see how quickly students learn to use the robot without having any prior experience.
Because all of this work will be conducted on the new simulators, it frees up the da Vinci robot for other use. For instance, Sal Crusco, a student at the UCF College of Medicine, is using the da Vinci robot to teach students how to suture as part of his Focused Individual Research Experience, or FIRE, project for the college.
He says that using the robot is very beneficial for both the surgeon and the patient. The surgeon doesn’t have to tense his back because he can sit at the da Vinci console, and a patient can have a growth removed from her uterus without having to worry about losing her fertility because the da Vinci arm is so precise.
“It’s so much more precise than a human hand and it stabilizes the human hand,” says Crusco.
Although the device feels foreign at first, says Crusco, it’s doesn’t take long to learn how to use it, particularly for students and those who are tech-savvy.
“I think it’s [the da Vinci robot] easier for younger people to learn; a lot of the students who have played video games seem to be learning faster,” says Crusco.
Dr. Arnold Advincula, an OB-GYN at Florida Hospital and a mentor of Crusco’s FIRE project, agrees.
“It’s how we learn these days, we’re very audio-visual,” he says. “In the past, people were intimidated by technology, but this generation is fully immersed in everything related to that.”
By Marisa Ramiccio