robots in health care

Houston-area hospital performs first robotic-assisted lung surgery

This hospital has conducted a unique and innovative procedure using robotics. Photo via hcahoustonhealthcare.com

HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake performed its first peripheral lung biopsy using robotic-assisted technology this month, making it the first hospital in the area to perform the minimally-invasive and innovative procedure.

Pulmonologist Dr. Alfred Maksoud performed the first two robotically-assisted procedures on March 1 and was attended by thoracic surgeon Dr. Melissa Korb and pulmonologist Dr. Maher Dahdel.

The procedures were conducted via an ultra-thin, easily maneuverable catheter that's able to navigate tight airways and pass through tight bends. A three-dimensional module of the patient's lung (created prior to surgery through a CT scan) was displayed on a computer screen to serve as a reference point for the doctors, as well as a live camera footage inside the lung.

The technology allows doctors to now reach nodules in any airway segment in the lung and extract more precise biopsies from the peripheral lung areas.

It will make the treatment easier on patients, which traditionally would require a CT scan and needle inserted into the patient's chest wall from outside of the body to reach these abnormal spots. This presented high risks of lung collapses for those with advanced lung disease.

“The technology allows us to go through the natural airways of the lung, so there is no puncturing of the lung tissue from the outside of the lining of the lung,” Maksoud said in a statement. “It is a safer way to approach lesions that are in the periphery of the lung for patients who have fairly advanced underlying lung disease.”

Additionally, this technology will support early diagnosis of lung disease when used for screenings due to its ability to reach previously unreachable areas of the lung.

“Approximately 75 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed in an advanced stage. Early lung cancer detection is imperative to increase the survival rate,” Todd Caliva, CEO at HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, said in a statement. “We're excited to implement new innovations that allow us to enhance the level of care our patients receive.”

Houston-area hospitals have become hubs for robotic-assisted surgery in recent years.

Baylor St. Luke's has become a top cardiac robotics program since 2019. Meanwhile, others, like Houston Methodist, have developed AI technologies to simulate entire surgeries artificially with a goal of allowing surgeons to practice and plan their technique.

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Building Houston

 
 

The latest cohort from gBETA Houston has been announced and is currently underway at the Downtown Launchpad. Photo courtesy

A national startup accelerator has announced its fifth local cohort, which includes five Houston companies participating in the spring 2022 class.

Madison, Wisconsin-based gener8tor has announced today the five participating startups in gBETA Houston. The program will be led by Muriel Foster, the newly named director of gBETA Houston, which originally launched in Houston in 2020 thanks to a grant from from the Downtown Redevelopment Authority.

The program, which is designed to help guide early-stage startups find early customer traction, connect with mentors, and more, is based in the Downtown Launchpad, and is free and does not take equity in the participating companies. The cohort kicked off on April 21 and concludes on June 10.

The new cohort includes:

  • Founded by CEO Steffie Thomson a year ago, Getaway Sticks has designed a shoe that gives women the painless support they need using athletic foam to create a shoe that gives women the painless support they need. Getaway Sticks provides the solutions to women’s #1 wardrobe complaint of high heel pain. Since launch, the company has earned over $35,000 in revenue from over 150 customers.
  • Through a combination of software and hardware technology, LocBox is rethinking the shopping experience for online and local purchases. If you shop, ship, or have food delivered to your house, LocBox will make your life easier. Led by CEO Sterling Sansing, LocBox has previously participated in the Texas A&M MBA Venture Challenge.
  • SpeakHaus is focused on equipping young professionals and entrepreneurs with public speaking skills through its on-demand training platform and group coaching program. Since launching in October 2021, SpeakHaus has facilitated 6 corporate trainings and coached 61 business leaders generating over $49,000 in revenue. The company is led by CEO Christa Clarke.
  • Led by CEO LaGina Harris, The Us Space is creating spaces intentionally for women of color, women-led businesses, and women-centric organizations. Since launching in June 2021, The Us Space has created partnerships with more than a dozen community organizations, sustainable businesses, and organizations creating positive economic impact in the City of Houston.
  • Founded in August 2021, Urban Eatz Delivery is a food delivery service app that caters to the overlooked and underrepresented restaurants, food trucks, and home-based food vendors. Urban Eatz Delivery has earned over $88,000 in revenue, delivered to over 2,000 users, and worked with 36 restaurant and food vendors on the app. The company is led by CEO D’Andre Good.

“The five companies selected for the Spring 2022 cohort tackle unique problems that have propelled them to create a business that solves the issues they once faced," Foster says in a news release. "From public speaking, apparel comfort, and food delivery from underrepresented restaurant owners, these founders have found their niche and are ready to continue to make an enormous impact on the Houston ecosystem."

it's Foster's first cohort at the helm of the program. A Houston native, she has her master’s in public administration from Texas Southern University and a bachelor’s in marketing from Oklahoma State University. Her background includes work in the nonprofit sector and international business consulting in Cape Town, South Africa, and she's worked within programming at organizations such as MassChallenge, BLCK VC, and now gener8tor.

The program is housed at the Downtown Launchpad. The five startups will have access to the space to meet with mentors, attend events, and run their companies.

"Creating (the hub) was a little like a moonshot, but it’s paying off and contributing enormous impact to the city’s economy. The five startups selected for the gBETA Houston Spring cohort will continue that legacy,” says Robert Pieroni, director of economic development at Central Houston Inc., in the release. “As these entrepreneurs chase their dreams and create something epic, they will know Downtown Houston is standing behind them. I am so proud of what Downtown Launchpad is already, and what it will become.”

Muriel Foster, a native Houstonian, is the new director of gBETA Houston. Image via LinkedIn

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