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KindHeart’s first simulation system was a cardiac model which replicates a human heart with a system of pumps and valves that are perfused with blood and is animated with the assistance of computer-controlled balloons inflated as per the desired heart rhythm. The surgeon has total control over what happens to the model, creating different scenarios including adverse events, which are not feasible in the current “gold standard” – live animal surgery. This simulator is a core component of the Thoracic Surgery Directors Association’s Cardiac Surgery Simulation Curriculum, developed by leading medical schools across the country.
The KindHeart simulators were developed with academic institutions in mind but soon attracted clientele from medical device companies. “Our simulators can be described as a wet lab in a dry lab setting,” states Sam Drew, Chief Operating Officer.
It is real surgery, so much that we are slowly replacing the word ‘simulation’ with ‘emulation.’
The company ensures consistency in models by digitally controlling the movement, the perfusion, and replication of the tissue to offer the same experience with every usage. “Our systems are software driven, based on industrial process controllers which makes the repetition highly precise,” adds Andy Grubbs, president, and co-founder of KindHeart. This stability is highly beneficial for deliberate practice and for manufacturers during device development. The company regularly upgrades the surgical techniques applicable to a simulator to keep pace with the rapidly evolving technological landscape.
KindHeart’s newest offering – the Sensored Patient – provides the initiation platform for artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ ML) applications. Highly repeatable surgery events allow KindHeart to offer medical device companies the experience of building data sets concerning the movement of tools and tissues. The difference between the forces applied to the tissue versus the force absorbed by patients’ body is also taken into account with the help of sophisticated sensors, providing a closed loop of data that is multi-channeled, conditioned, and ready for analysis. Moreover, by offering specialty systems for a particular operation, KindHeart models can be adjusted to capture the specific data that is important to the customer.
Currently, KindHeart is looking forward to launching its product for telesimulation of surgery, which will allow remote access to the simulators using hand controls from a robotic surgery device. The surgeon will be able to manipulate the controls from a distance of thousands of miles, similar to a computer game in the cloud. “It is real surgery, so much that we are slowly replacing the word ‘simulation’ with ‘emulation,’” concludes Grubbs.