Re: Medical Uses of RP

From: George Sachs (
Date: Mon Jan 20 1997 - 08:12:04 EET

There are new technologies and tests being introduced almost daily which
claim to offer great benefits (and even breakthroughs) in the practice of
medicine. Though it is true that the medical community is conservative and
at times even reticent when it comes to embracing cutting edge technologies
(they are still catching up on the effective use of computers for medical
data acquistion, monitoring, billing, etc.), it is also true that they face
many other constraints, which engineers do not have to deal with. They no
longer have blank checks and have to cost justify everything they do, they
have to worry about lawsuits, about FDA regulations, about justifying every
proceedure, every test, and in their minds it may be safer and easier if
along with everything else, they don't propose the latest "cost saving
technology of the month". In the area of surgical planning there are other
technologies besides RP which are being looked at, including virtual reality
headsets offering tactile feedback for doing "virtual surgery", holographic
displays, stereographic displays, and I am sure many other technologies
which can claim to be of benefit to surgeons, physicians in general and
patients (maybe every patient should have an MRI once a year?), but
insurance companies will only embrace those proceedures which will prove to
not only be "neat", but to have medical efficacy, while at the same time
REDUCING costs. I feel it is a little insulting to those in the medical
community to state that because RP has not been widely embraced as the
greatest thing since sliced bread, that they are totally ignorant of the
technology or its possibilities. When studies clearly show that the outcome
of surgery with RP will be greatly improved while not affecting cost, or
even better that costs go down, then you will see insurance companies
willing to provide RP as a valid adjunt to current practices. To those
thinking about writing about this topic, I would strongly encourage them to
talk to those with several years of experience in using RP for just such
medical proceedures and also to get the feedback from physicians and
insurance companies who may well have investigated RP in depth and who have
various perspectives as to its future use. It sounds to me that this is not
exactly "new territory" and that there are experts in the field.
As far as a toy company providing this service "gratis" as perhaps a one
time only gesture, I only hope it is not a publicity stunt used for
advertizing purposes and that the same company will on a regular basis
consider doing this type of charitable work for the many, many truly
indigent patients around the world who could benefit from such
philanthropic offerings (it also does not appear that the parties in
question were truly indigent and could not have raised the money to pay for
this service, maybe a few thousand dollars, by some means). I can only hope
the "fun" of helping someone using this "neat" technology is really
contagious and will be repeated many times, by many companies and that it
will not be used for personal promotion (which then is not charity). My
hat's off to all those participating in the experiment however!

George Sachs
Paradyme Systems

>You really have to gain an internal champion in the medical school to take
>hold of the RP and make it work. Medical schools also have a tendency to have
>a very NIH attitude for things as well.
>Good luck to Steve and the others involved. Hopefully the possible publicity
>will kick start some others in the medical arena to champion the use of RP.
>> Steve - What you, Jim Rollins, and others are doing is really neat. I'd
>> like to offer my help. An idea is to initiate a story for publication in
>> an industry trade publication. It would help educate insurance companies
>> and others who could help streamline reconstructive surgeries for accident
>> victoms and those with birth defects. If you or others feel that this is
>> worth pursuing, I'll run it by a couple of editor friends. Let me know.
>> Terry Wohlers
>> Wohlers Associates, Inc.

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