International cooperation, lifeline for the health system. Interview with SofMedica, the company that delivers robots to hospitals in the country

During the COVID-19 crisis, access to innovative technologies was all the more important, and SofMedica, a supplier of robots for medical units, distributed products and technologies to Romanian hospitals to treat patients affected by the virus and to support frontline doctors. Now, the company is struggling to bring innovation to hospitals in Romania, in the country that, along with the USA, is the most important incubator of medical technologies: Israel.

The SofMedica group, specialized in the distribution of medical equipment, which also offers platforms for new technologies in the medical field, collaborates with over 200 public and private hospitals in Romania and has introduced da Vinci robotic technology in seven hospitals in the country.

Recently, the company started several talks with Israel, an important incubator of the world’s top medical technologies, to bring medical technologies both to Romania and other countries in Southeast Europe.

“Certainly, this is a time when digitalization will accelerate its development in many sectors of activity. In the field of health, faster integration of digital technologies has the potential to innovate and improve access to healthcare, which will facilitate the provision of perfectly adapted diagnoses and treatments and increase the overall efficiency of the whole sector, until we have a smaller potential number of hospitalized patients “, said Harris Palaondas, Managing Director of SofMedica.

During the COVID-19 crisis, access to innovative technologies was all the more important, and SofMedica distributed to Romanian hospitals products and technologies for treating patients affected by the virus and for supporting front-line doctors.

Thus, SofMedica has provided devices for air filtration in operating rooms, devices that retain particles up to 0.1 microns and protect against bacteria and viruses, but also the world’s first “3 in 1” insufflation management system, which has unmatched capabilities in ensuring stable pneumoperitoneum, continuous smoke evacuation.

Read below about what technologies SofMedica has brought to Romania, how the company facilitates the access of Romanian patients to life-saving technologies and what is the role of international cooperation for the Romanian medical system.

Wall-Street.ro: How important is international cooperation for the Romanian medical system? What has SofMedica done in this regard so far and what are the plans for the future?

Harris Palaondas: For the past 25 years, our mission has been to close the gap that can exist between the medical technology manufacturer and the patient, generating value. The most important and innovative medical technologies are produced abroad (especially in the USA, Japan and Israel), and their import and distribution require solid funding, expertise and resources, training and education of people to use those technologies, but also the availability to provide ongoing clinical and technical assistance to hospitals. This is our role and the kind of benefits we aim to bring to the healthcare market in South East Europe. In the future, our goal is to continue to offer innovative medical technologies in the region, which are developing more and more in the area of ​​robotics, big data & cloud, as well as Artificial Intelligence. In addition, we seek to invest even more in the education of medical professionals, with an important focus on simulation and e-learning.

Wall-Street.ro: What new technologies has SofMedica brought to Romania and how can they help Romanian patients? What would be the best medical equipment?

Harris Palaondas: We collaborate with over 200 state and private hospitals in Romania, to which we offer continuous solutions for patient care (continuum of care solutions), from diagnosis to post-operative rehabilitation and monitoring. We introduced da Vinci robotic technology in Southeast Europe, the most advanced solution in the world in minimally invasive surgery and we are proud that the system is currently used in seven hospitals in four cities in Romania (Bucharest, Brasov, Timisoara and Oradea). The use of robotic technology enjoys proven results in terms of reducing hospitalization time, lower number of complications, but also a lower rate of possible reinterventions, compared to the classic approach.

Also, another technology that we have brought to Romania is the high frequency ultrasound system (HIFU), with the help of which non-invasive interventions are treated for cases of early stage prostate cancer, but also the guided biopsy system. by fusion for an accurate diagnosis of cancerous tumors. In addition, we have technologies that incorporate Artificial Intelligence, such as the diagnostic system for gastrointestinal disorders CAD-EYE from FUJI, pain monitoring systems produced by Medasense, as well as minimally invasive solutions for the field of heart and vascular diseases.

Wall-Street.ro: What have been SofMedica’s investments in Romanian technologies so far?

Harris Palaondas: Our mission is to make life-saving medical technologies available to patients in Europe, providing professionals with the most viable ecosystem of innovation and learning, which is why we have always promoted the newest and most innovative technologies. We collaborate with more than 300 hospitals in the region and have developed over 30 robotic surgery programs. SofMedica performed the first artificial heart implant in Romania, the first TAVI implantation procedure in Southeast Europe, the first robotic ablation system in Southeast Europe, home Dialysis in Romania, the first Training and Development Center in Southeast Europe .

Wall-Street.ro: What discussions did SofMedica initiate with Israel and for what new technologies?

Harris Palaondas: Since 2004 we have been collaborating with Israeli manufacturers of medical technologies, such as Given Imaging, who developed the PillCam capsule, the only non-invasive product that allows direct visualization of the small intestine and colonic mucosa in a single procedure. . Then, in 2008, we brought to Romania a technology that uses Artificial Intelligence to measure the level of pain a patient is subjected to. We are currently in talks with ten other Israeli companies to bring their technologies to Romania and other countries in Southeast Europe.

With over 30 years of experience in developing innovative solutions for medical systems, Israel is one of the largest and most important incubators for cutting-edge medical technologies worldwide.

Wall-Street.ro: What is the potential of digitized medical solutions / services on the Romanian market?

Harris Palaondas: Certainly, this is a time when digitalisation will accelerate its development in many sectors of activity. This process requires investment in digital infrastructure and a partial change of mindset. In the medical field, faster integration of digital technologies has the potential to innovate and improve access to healthcare, which will facilitate the provision of perfectly adapted diagnoses and treatments and increase the overall efficiency of the whole sector, to have a smaller potential number of hospitalized patients.

We expect to see an increase in remote or home health monitoring services, without the need for patients to travel to medical facilities, and greater investment in outpatient and prophylactic treatments compared to those requiring hospitalization.

Telemedicine was eventually regulated, offering patients new ways to access medical services. Also, technologies that use 5G and Artificial Intelligence for remote access and quick diagnostics will certainly experience a rapid pace of development.

The market for medical devices and high-tech diagnostic and imaging equipment in Romania has excellent growth prospects, due to the growing demand and the need to meet European quality standards. The estimated value of this market last year was about $ 433 million, and the outlook is growing, given that there are still medical needs to be met compared to the EU average.

Wall-Street.ro: How important was the access to innovative technologies during COVID-19 and what was the role of SofMedica?

Harris Palaondas: Our teams came to the aid of medical professionals even during the COVID-19 crisis, when access to innovative medical technologies was of vital importance. We have distributed products and technologies for the treatment of patients to hospitals in the country, such as those that use Artificial Intelligence to monitor the level of pain in patients undergoing surgery, while they are under anesthesia or mechanically ventilated; technologies that provide data on hemodynamic monitoring and calculation of key cardiac output parameters; a system for the elimination of substances and / or fluids in patients with acute renal failure or excess fluid.

At the same time, SofMedica has provided devices for air filtration in surgical rooms, which retain particles up to 0.1 microns and protect against bacteria and viruses, but also the world’s first “3 in 1” insufflation management system, which has capabilities unmatched in ensuring stable pneumoperitoneum, continuous smoke evacuation. Of course, we still offer 24/7 post-installation technical support for all our medical equipment and devices, their maintenance and periodic inspections.