The markets have been buzzing about hospital budget cuts and an innovation crisis, especially as hospitals become more cost conscious about their purchases.  In the cases of capital equipment, these products are large, expensive, and only purchased once every 5 to 10 years. So for manufacturers, in order to get customers to repurchase or upgrade their products, a certain type of innovation is most important for building a competitive advantage.

As one of the physicians I interviewed phrased it, the innovation must be disruptive. The technology needs to be easy to adopt and yet change the operating room in a way that physicians would no longer be able to go back to their previous ways. For example, operating room integration systems were adopted in a frenzy when they first came out, due to their ability to enhance efficiency, reduce wiring, and increase patient safety by having all of the information available at the surgeon's fingertips. By comparison, the launch of the 3D camera system was met with increased hype and interest, but little adoption in the US over the past 3 years.

I believe the reason is because the 3D camera system was not yet ready to be disruptive. Physicians have a variety of camera systems to choose from, at a variety of price levels to match their budget, but most importantly, already offering true 1080p HD or superior optics. In many cases, surgeons are satisfied with the quality of these cameras, and the clarity of the optics for their surgeries. The key ability of the 3D camera, however, was to improve depth perception, something physicians would have to rely on experience to determine previously with a 2D camera. That being said, depth perception can come at a high cost; 3D cameras create inconvenience for the physician because they need to wear glasses and they can experience the same dizziness we get when watching 3D movies in theatres. It also didn't gain much ground since it was only sold by a relatively small competitor in the market. As a result, it hasn't been adopted by many facilities in the US.

With the recent launch of 3D videoscopes a similar technology except for the fact that the camera is already attached to the endoscope from major endoscopy players Olympus and KARL STORZ, 3D will increasingly become a potential option in operating rooms. A recent study conducted by the Franhofer Heinrich Herzt Institute further cements the idea that 3D should be part of the future of surgery. Improved precision and smoother transitions meant that operating times were 15% shorter, even when the sample included experienced surgeons. The key, however, continues to be making it easy to switch, as they also found that 3D glasses were a huge limiter for physician adoption. If we look at the adoption of Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci robot, the 3DHD vision system has been met with more positive response, since the 3D is already incorporated into the screen's console.

There are many hurdles to overcome when it comes to 3DHD adoption, but with some fine tuning, there may be a place for it after all.

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