Zimmer Biomet plans AI center to smarten up its hip, knee replacement robots

Zimmer Biomet plans to co-develop new artificial intelligence programs for its orthopedic surgery hardware by working with one of the country’s largest academic hospitals in the field.

Through a three-year project with the Hospital for Special Surgery, Zimmer Biomet hopes to assemble decision support tools for joint replacements powered by AI and machine learning, which will work in concert with the company’s Rosa robots for knee and hip procedures.

They will also be used to expand its ZBEdge software suite—the home of Zimmer Biomet’s first AI tool, which debuted earlier this year and helps to predict the recovery of a patient’s ability to walk after surgery—in addition to the company’s other digital health and smartphone apps.

"Together we hope to create clinically validated decision support tools that rely on real-world patient and procedural data to inform actionable recommendations that help surgeons achieve predictable and reproducible clinical outcomes," Nitin Goyal, Zimmer Biomet’s chief science, technology and innovation officer, said in a statement.

The Indiana-based company will rely on HSS’ clinical experience, with its locations in the New York City area and Florida, as it co-develops the new AI software for robotic joint replacements. 

The company said HSS surgeons and Zimmer Biomet’s data scientists will work together under an “innovation center” to test out ways to help surgeons find the best possible fit for individual patients when it comes to new knees and hips.

Zimmer Biomet previously worked with HSS on its mymobility app for the Apple Watch, which uses sensors to track a patient’s progress through pre- and post-operative exercises.

Meanwhile, the minimally invasive Rosa Hip system, which received FDA clearance in August 2021, employs software that analyzes patient X-rays to help surgeons plan out their strategy in about five minutes. During the operation, the system displays real-time fluoroscopy images and automatically calculates leg length, orientation and joint offsets to help ensure the proper placement of hip implants.

Earlier this year, Zimmer Biomet completed the spinoff of its spine and dental businesses,  creating a standalone public company named ZimVie, which will maintain the company’s Rosa robot for spinal procedures.