Cutting, meet edge: J&J MedTech taps Nvidia for surgery AI partnership

Looking to bring artificial intelligence to the cutting edge in more ways than one, Johnson & Johnson MedTech has tapped Nvidia to help deliver real-time analyses of surgical data.

That includes developing AI models that can be deployed on-site using edge computing for a faster, localized approach that’s also capable of scaling up to reach operating rooms across the world.

The goal is to deliver algorithms that can be employed in surgical decision-making as well as in clinician education and collaboration efforts by linking Nvidia’s IGX and Holoscan AI platforms for healthcare with J&J’s surgery suites. 

It’s a step closer to what J&J has long described as “Surgery 4.0,” including since its early work with Verb Surgical—that is, a generational improvement upon today’s robotics tech, which has so far aimed to offer steadier, less intrusive and more precise tools in the OR. 

By building a digital surgery ecosystem on top of that hardware—one that can track the journeys of individual patients before, during and after a procedure, to see what works where—a machine learning approach could rapidly refine and relay best practices, and one day help guide a surgeons’ hands from moment to moment.

“Johnson & Johnson MedTech is advancing healthcare toward a future that's more connected and personalized,” J&J’s worldwide medtech chairman, Tim Schmid, said in a statement. “This future will be increasingly enabled by digital technologies that deliver efficiency, inform decision-making, and extend surgical training and education.”

In order to reach that efficiency, the two said that advanced edge computing—with both live and stored data being processed within the OR itself—will be necessary to deliver the ultralow latency required during a surgical procedure. 

The localized approach will also reduce transfers of sensitive health data and allow for tailored applications to operate more securely.

“One of the major challenges in scaling AI for surgery is the closed design of surgical technologies,” said Shan Jegatheeswaran, J&J’s global medtech digital head. “Bringing advanced edge computing hardware and software to the OR enables scalability of innovation and new AI-powered solutions for clinical decision-making, education and training, and collaboration—with the ultimate goal of advancing patient care.”