The Key Differentiator in Digital Surgery? Look to Google, Not Intuitive, says Brainlab CEO

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The real value of digital surgery lies in the integration of multiple disciplines and precise, high-quality datasets, says Brainlab CEO and founder Stefan Vilsmeier. To accomplish this, a new subsidiary, Snke OS, is offering external collaborators across medtech open access to Brainlab’s operating system. Will medical device companies, immersed in a fight to dominate the operating room, go for it?

2020 has been a tough year for medical device companies, but Brainlab AG, which makes software and surgical planning and navigation platforms for surgery, as well as radiotherapy systems, had its best year ever. It’s private, so it won’t disclose specifics, but CEO and founder Stefan Vilsmeier reports record double-digit growth on sales of more than $415 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020, and an EBITDA of more than $100 million. The company’s core customers are neurosurgery and spine surgeons, who are traditionally ultra-cautious about adoption of new technologies—their uptake is “like watching paint peel,” Vilsmeier says. Given the demands of the pandemic, however, their mindset has shifted and they are eagerly embracing the world of digital innovation, creating unprecedented opportunities for savvy tech players.


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