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Interview: Michael Schelper, Senior Vice President Corporate Development, Caresyntax

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With HBI 2024 now just three weeks away, we spoke with Michael Schelper, Senior Vice President Corporate Development at Caresyntax, a company that provides a digital platform to assist with surgery, about the company’s focus on data utilisation.

“Caresyntax was founded about 10 years ago by Björn von Siemens and Dennis Kogan, with the vision to make surgery smarter and safer. Both came from a healthcare sector background as serial entrepreneurs. Björn originally wanted to become a surgeon himself and given his tech affinity very swiftly saw that there was a massive need to really improve how surgical care was being delivered.

“There are a lot of different silos along the surgical continuum right now, and no holistic view of the entire patient journey. This leads to unnecessary risks, unnecessary complications, a lot of variants and, ultimately, a system where technology — with all its advancements — can provide support. So that is where Caresyntax puts its focus.”

Michael Schelper, Senior Vice President Corporate Development, Caresyntax

It is said that fortune favours the brave, and Schelper recognises the role Caresyntax’s interactions and partnerships with other entities have had in its success:

“We have been very fortunate to collaborate with a lot of the changemakers around the world — including Google and Intel — and have deployed our solutions in more than 3,000 operating rooms so far. More than three million patients’ surgeries are supported by the platform on an annual basis. We have positively impacted the lives of many people that have had to undergo surgery and will continue to do that moving forward”, Schelper says.

“My role at Caresyntax is very much focused on corporate development, which means I’m focusing on new market entries, on strategic projects and initiatives as well as mergers and acquisitions and investor relations.”

“We are on a massive growth trajectory and are also fortunate to be backed by some of the most renowned investors in that field, from BlackRock to Optum, Intel, and many others.

“We know that there’s much more to be done to improve surgery and healthcare, given that the industry is slowly digitally transforming, and now the surgical continuum is a key priority, as it is — let’s be honest — the revenue generator in healthcare facilities, generating more than 50% of the revenue.

“That is where we believe that we can add a lot of value for facilities, but also for the different players engaged along the journey, including improving patient outcomes”.

Schelper explains that the company’s data work is enhanced by its awareness of all of the provider stakeholders in its area of expertise:

“When it comes to the surgical continuum there are a number of different key players. You have the patients who are ultimately the consumer of whatever services are being provided. Depending on the geography and the healthcare system, they are, or they are not, actively paying.”

“Next, you have the healthcare providers. Needless to say, surgery generates revenue, but it is also a cost driver. If you do not contain all the potential risk variations, these operating rooms are expensive assets, so you want to ensure you utilise them as efficiently and safely as possible.

“Late starts to procedures, the operation cancellations that are happening, the badly utilised time blocks that are being allocated to external surgeons in a facility, are just a few aspects that are meaning providers are not maximising the utilisation of ORs, which has a direct impact on their bottom lines.

“The asset is there anyway, so how do you make sure you use it as best as possible, but at the same time improve the outcomes like readmissions and patient outcomes? For instance, it doesn’t make sense if you increase daily procedures, but you have a higher rate of readmissions within 90 days, because that is something that you pay for.

“So, it’s all about making sure you improve operational and also financial efficiency, while at the same time increasing clinical proficiency.

“Next, there’s the payer and insurer. They like to pay as little as possible — how does that work? If you were to ensure that the relevant information is provided at the right time to the right caregivers, you can ensure that the risk profile is reduced.

“One of our largest partners in Europe sees that as a clear advantage. If a facility that they also insure on the medical practice side uses our solutions, they will get a better risk profile simply because everything is properly done, properly documented, and properly analysed.

“The MedTech companies are another group. One of the core challenges they are facing is not being able to obtain the relevant real-world data and real-world evidence in the ways that they need to in order to get FDA/MDR clearance and advance their clinical trials as quickly as possible.

“As well as providing structured data, at Caresyntax we also structure and curate data out of unstructured data such as images, videos, and uploads. We apply that with a patient-centric approach to the high-fidelity surgical records, and we then use our data-driven AI surgery platform to apply automation, analytics and AI to create the value that people desire.

“As a byproduct of this, we are obviously generating a lot of real-world data and real-world evidence and, as mentioned, that is exactly what MedTech companies are interested in. Once they have launched a device, they want to increase utilisation and production. They can increase this by showing that the total cost of ownership is top notch and that it does what it’s supposed to do — and that clearly can be displayed with the relevant data.

“Then, going a little bit earlier in the product life cycle, you have post-market surveillance that needs to be done.

“Again, real-world evidence complexity increases a little bit here. Then, going even further and earlier in the product life cycle, you are talking about clinical trials – and that is where real world evidence complexity is massively higher. But the more you can provide at that point in time, the more you can shorten the time to market.

“You have key players who are investing hundreds of billions in obtaining these data points and we are actually structuring and curating that as well.

“Ultimately, it’s about how we can connect these data points and generate the insights so that we can impact behaviour and avoid risks and complications where they are avoidable. You do not always know at the beginning which data points are relevant.

“That is why it’s important to gather as much data as possible and let machines do what they’re good at within the algorithms to identify where potentially there are correlations.

“Globally, healthcare providers will not be able to build that many more operating rooms to keep up with demand and up capacity very easily if the current utilisation is not up to par. We cannot clone a lot of surgeons. We have a shortage of practitioners and that means we have to somehow ensure that we are creating efficiencies in their work with technology to free up the time to perform the work that can’t be taken over by machines now.

“This is where the data really comes in. Think about the utilisation of these assets. If you can perform more surgeries per week with the same staff and improved safety, that means you will already be able to cater to many more patients.

“Identifying exactly where you have these opportunities to potentially improve the utilisation is where the data comes in, and where Caresyntax comes in.”

Schelper asserts that healthcare businesses must make sure that they are getting the most out of the technology and that practitioners are supporting patients along their entire journey to improve care provision.

He believes this requires a mindset shift and this is one of the biggest challenges healthcare businesses are facing. However, he is confident the industry can rise to the challenge and pass its wealth of knowledge on to the next generation.

With such a potential transformation in the provision of healthcare for partners, patients and practitioners alike, Schelper is looking forward to meeting others with an “action-oriented mindset” at the “extremely unique” HBI 2024.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Daniel Emmett-Gulliver or call 0207 183 3779.