Florida Hospital’s Medical Device Innovation Lab, fertile ground for surgical medical entrepreneurs
Editor’s Note: Last month, Manatee Sarasota Charlotte Medical News discussed Florida Hospital Orlando’s newly opened Medical Device Innovation Lab with renowned surgeon Steve Eubanks, MD, director of the lab and Florida Hospital Academic Surgery, also a serial medical entrepreneur. The prototype lab at the Institute for Surgical Advancement (ISA) is more than a space for physicians to bring their ideas for the development of medical equipment they could use in the operating room. Part III of our interview with Eubanks follows.
You’ve had quite a few innovative medical inventions over the years. Details?
The most sustainable have been mini-laparoscopy instruments. That was almost 20 years ago. The idea was to take what we surgeons know about minimally invasive surgery and make it even less invasive. We took instrumentation that was anywhere from 5-10 millimeters in diameter and brought it down to 1.7 millimeters, so the instruments were less than 2 millimeters thick and had the strength that allowed surgeons to do major operations.
That instrument line matured and made it to market. It was being used by a lot of physicians and was making a real impact. There were sessions at national meetings talking about this type of work. And it was making such a splash that it frightened some of the big companies. I don’t remember which company – I believe it was U.S. Surgical at the time, which became Tyco Healthcare and then Conidian – saw it was cutting into their market share. They tried to match it with their own instrumentation, but couldn’t, so they acquired the entire company. I didn’t own it, and wasn’t a founder, but had just created the line for the company. The acquiring company shelved the intellectual property and tried to kill the concept so it wouldn’t harm their business. But the idea wouldn’t go away. Now there’s a huge surge in mini-laparoscopy instruments. Several other major companies have mini-laparoscopy lines, and it’s a very hot topic.
Historically, I’m credited with being the father of that movement, or one of the earlier pioneers in that arena.
How impactful is the Medical Device Innovation Lab as a physician recruitment tool for Florida Hospital?
It’s a strong recruiting tool. We have a couple of new surgical oncologists (that joined) us in early August, and they’re chomping at the bit to get in here and take advantage of the resources we have. We just recruited a cardiac transplant surgeon from Germany. He’s spent his life working on new cardiac devices. The new institute was instrumental in him determining to come here.
It’s also creating a collaborative culture with great administrative support when innovative activity is encouraged, rather than being deterred and basically being told, “Just go back to the OR. Don’t be messing around in this new area.”
Could you give us a quick rundown of your publishing history?
I’ve worked on several textbooks and atlases. The best-known is published by Lippincott: Mastery of Endoscopic and Laparoscopic Surgery. I’ve been the lead editor with two co-editors. Over the last decade, most years it’s been the best-selling laparoscopic textbook in the world. We’ve done three editions of it.
I have 85 to 90 peer-reviewed publications, and have given a lot of lectures around the world.
How do you manage such a heavy and diverse workload?
My granddaddy already said I could sleep when I was dead. (Laughs.) It’s part of the fun and challenges of not only taking great clinical care of patients on a daily basis, but it’s also the exciting aspect of how do we do that in a better or most cost-effective or less painful way. We’re doing the best we can with what we have today while also trying to build better for tomorrow.