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Emergence of Digital Surgery, Aiming to Decrypt the Black Box Paradigm in Surgery
Episode 365

Sertac Guzel, Director of Marketing at Verb Surgical Inc.

Emergence of Digital Surgery, Aiming to Decrypt the Black Box Paradigm in Surgery

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Emergence of Digital Surgery, Aiming to Decrypt the Black Box Paradigm in Surgery

Episode 365

Recommended Book:

1984

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Emergence of Digital Surgery, Aiming to Decrypt the Black Box Paradigm in Surgery with Sertac Guzel, Director of Marketing at Verb Surgical Inc. | Convert audio-to-text with Sonix

Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket podcast where we inspire collaborative thinking, improved outcomes, and business success with today’s most successful and inspiring health care leaders and influencers. And now your host, Saul Marquez.

Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the podcast. Today I have the privilege of hosting Sertac Guzel. He’s a Director of Marketing at Verb Surgical Inc. Verb is working with physicians around the world to create the feature of surgery. A new future,a future unimagined even a few years ago which will involve machine learning, robotic surgery, instrumentation, advanced visualization and data analytics. A future of surgery that aims to achieve improved outcomes, lower costs and greater hospital efficiency. Sertac is an experienced 13 plus year self starter and driven commercial leader in the health care industry with a proven record of success in both downstream and upstream roles including field sales execution and management, random portfolio management, P&L responsibility, new business development. You get the picture – he’s spent time with large companies such as J&J as well as Startups. He’s managed challenges from a spectrum of high growth, turnaround, mature and startup platform organizations and has worked in diverse geographies such as U.S., Germany, and his hometown of Turkey. So it’s with this true privilege that I open up the microphone to Sertac to chat with us about what he’s up to at Verb Surgical and what’s on his mind for the future of healthcare so Sertac, welcome.

Sertac Guzel:
Thank you so much. It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Saul Marquez:
Hey it’s a true pleasure to have you here, Sertac. What would you say got you into the medical sector?

Sertac Guzel:
Yeah great question. I think I’ll be curious to ask you as well like what is the most common answer you get. But I’m pretty sure you hear about purpose. Purpose being I think a driving force in making this decision. You know that you are serving a greater purpose than you are able to make an impact. And I would say that it’s been a major motivation but also something I realized early on when I was looking at different options was you know like the professional development, the aspect we invest investor use is tremendous as well just given the sophistication of the stakeholders you are dealing with like privilege to be working with surgeons as being I would say tremendously educating and really stretches you and you know even if you stopped in sales it’s not only about being commercially very savvy but you also need to really get a strong technical and clinical background. The time that I just joined Johnson&Johnson, I was incredibly impressed with the depth of the training program that we all went through and I know this is the case for other healthcare companies as well. So this level of competency that you are building through multiple facets is I think a tremendous mission yourself as well. So it is the enormous primary motivator.

Saul Marquez:
Love that yeah and to answer your question said that it’s a mix of responses right. We get the purpose driven response we get the, “hey it wasn’t my choice it kind of hit me in the face and I went with it”. So it’s been good that you have such a purpose driven mission driven way of being. So it’s no surprise that’s kind of what led you here and you’re right. I mean it’s very enriching experience. What would you say and before we dive into this I’d love to give you an opportunity to educate the listeners on Verb Surgical. What do you guys do and why does it matter?

Sertac Guzel:
Yeah sure. Verb Surgical is actually a company that’s built to develop its platform, develop and launch a platform for digital surgery. We don’t view ourselves as another surgical robotics company. What we are trying to do is actually build the foundation for all surgeons for missions around the globe to be able to perform, I would say you know efficiency and quality procedures to be able to serve the broader set of patients and why does it matter, it matters because when you look at some of the biggest healthcare challenges across the globe I think we’re all familiar with what’s going on at all on this or on the news but something we tend to sometimes that I would say overlook is the fact that there is a significant lack of access to quality health care. And even if you have access there’s significant variation in terms of outcomes. And this is this is no one’s fault. It’s really I think we have been improving drastically as we all know over the course of last hundred year in terms of call surgeries performed in the outcomes constantly keep improving but we are told this is still not there and the lack of visibility to value trying to get the best outcomes or how we can drive quality news to be a major challenge for patients across the world. So the technological foundations that could tackle this challenge and help surgeons across the globe to perform at a higher level is what drives Verb Surgical.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. It’s a phenomenal idea. And you guys are beginning to execute in a big way. Folks, for those of you that don’t know two of their key investors are Google Verily and also Johnson&Johnson. So definitely a company to watch out for. So the topic is variation in surgery and on proving that, I love to hear from from you. Sertac, what you believe is is an example of what you have done at the company and your team has done at the company to make things better.

Sertac Guzel:
Yeah sure. So personally, it’s a journey so we started this. I would say around 2012 – 2013 Johnson&Johnson. I’m pretty sure Google and Verily were looking at similar problems on what viable solutions looked like the inception of the program goes back to 6- 7 years ago. Since then I think what we have done is really something that we all take pride in because essentially imagine the program being set starting with essentially making the business case to enter into a space which could as well distract yourself.. So it starts with the colonization which is not an easy colonization can have it all for a large strategic company like Johnson&Johnson. Johnson&Johnson also shows the openness and the willingness to essentially destruct themselves and appreciated the future clinical value of the digital service platform and make the necessary investments to make this vision a reality. On the other side you have a highly capable obviously from data analytics standpoint cloud computing standpoint all the Silicon Valley can stroke technology coming from the partners like Verily to essentially compliment the pictures. Through that partnership you bring very strong complementary capabilities to the table but you have, the know how or hundreds plus news coming from their health company like Johnson&Johnson with very strong instrumentation portfolio and understanding of what the conditions and spaces around the world use together the capabilities of Verily which is focused on taking these tools and know-how and stuff digitizing all the stakeholders and start building the foundational data that they want to serve. So the establishment of this partnership and how it’s transformed into operationalizing a new company like Verb surgical which is today 400 plus employees excluding the I would say the employees and the leaders working on this project within Verily and Johnson&Johnson. That in itself is a huge accomplishment and obviously throughout this journey we have been thinking through what sort of a course it would be able to take of these significant unmet needs you see today and we see also evolving it’s starting to rise in the future and taking that concept and turning it into a product not only building this team and organization with building this product and verifying that actually that product is going to be able to move the needle as we anticipate it is in other major accomplishments. So I would say these are the essential key milestones the team was able to take and how we did it is boiling down to the teaming aspect which this this vision I described in the opening to your question around what works Verb Surgical is about using vision that can be tackled on an individual level it needs to be collective mission and you need to build a very strong partnership foundation starting with Johnson&Johnson and Verily but going beyond that. With their larger ecosystem of technology partners, clinical partners, hospital systems and like any major stakeholder within the healthcare system. So it’s really I think the secret sauce in the program and something that we keep a close eye on in order to be successful.

Saul Marquez:
Now I think that’s great and some excellent context. So touch on the progress seven years building this product. So have you guys launched a product yet.

Sertac Guzel:
Not yet. We are still on the working stage yet.

Saul Marquez:
So that’s really exciting right now you’re still in development and it sounds like the partnerships you’ve made the insights that have gone into this are going to be something very very useful and interesting so definitely something that listeners you’re going to want to keep in touch with. Don’t lose track of what Verb Surgical is up to. Can you share with us an example of maybe a setback you guys had in the previous seven years and what you learned from it to be better?

Sertac Guzel:
Yeah sure. So it’s it’s hard to pick one major example. I would say this is a you know like on an operational level day to day battle. Right. So you especially when you are rethinking things. If our mission was to take what exists out there and to replicate that like this could there be there. There is a problem solving exercise. But while you are trying to create a platform that is unprecedented in the way it brings together is like you laid out earlier the robotics foundation together with enhanced visualization, advanced instrumentation, data analytics and the connectivity piece and then you are doing it not in a startup passion but you are doing it in essentially in a hybrid model that you try to leverage easily to a start up. But you are ramping up for a globally scale large right. So that this makes the program very good men. No major setbacks that costs, that derailed us from our path but this doesn’t mean you don’t have problems or we don’t have to solve problems like this. It’s our day to day business.

Saul Marquez:
Now for sure, with any large company like you’ve had it’s important to just keep your eye on the mission and continue driving to that end result. How about one of your proudest experiences to date?

Sertac Guzel:
I’ll call this experience I would say. I mean this is a team and you’re looking at organizations who gets their oxygen from the marketplace. So it’s the proudest moments are usually the moments that you work with again, clinicians, hospital leaders or other stakeholders looking at what you are working on and telling you exactly what I. So that happens all these numerous times to our engagements and this very encouraging, Saul like this. That’s really what most of us live for was not a regular day job. As we discussed earlier the people in the healthcare industry are usually purpose driven people. And then you hear that there is no strong validation that could ever possibly meet on the purpose you have chosen. And it’s great for you that the path you think is fulfilling that. So I would say it’s the feedback, that all the values, the positive feedback you heard from clinicians and hospital system leaders.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. That market validations key for share especially in the building stages. And I know that you guys have a lot going on right. You’re looking at digital things, you’re looking at analytics, you’re looking at the intersection with those things and surgical implants and instrumentation. What would you say an exciting project that a lot of things going on right now something that you’re most fired up about?

Sertac Guzel:
Yes. This project is not foreproof but I would say that the recent developments in the space and I was primarily focused on the investments Johnson&Johnson is making is really bringing together a portfolio like when you look at Johnson&Johnson example Verb Surgical is just one of the initiatives in strong collaboration with barely to the will of their surgical robotics platform for they’ll know how we can thoracic surgery. But on the other side there is an initiative post acquisition or attacks in orthopedic space. There is an initiative in the luminal early diagnosis or a therapeutic space, through the ors acquisition just being there now. I think a few months ago real close recently together with other investments in learning technologies or data driven solutions like sets is really showing you not monetary wise but I would say strategically that the strong focus on making this vision a reality. This fits the part that also gets me incredibly excited because I know that we are going to be like synergistically working together or complementing each other to help drive a bigger change in healthcare systems. We are not like, you shouldn’t be looking for stand alone you know like solutions. We should be looking for it’s that I feel good. It is possible that we can our project Verb Surgical obviously again what they will bring to the table Johnson&Johnson which we said when you created there is a hospital collaboration is getting to a very exciting point. While we know we are getting closer to the market and this is becoming a reality for us so big excitement keep scrolling on a day to day basis and it’s really special.

Saul Marquez:
Now that’s for sure and I’m excited too I definitely am anxiously awaiting the output of the efforts so Sertac, this is the time on the podcast where we do a lightning round. So I got a couple of questions for you and then we’ll follow that with the book you recommend to the listeners. You ready?

Sertac Guzel:
Sure. Let’s do it.

Saul Marquez:
All right. What’s the best way to improve health care outcomes?

Sertac Guzel:
Transparency.

Saul Marquez:
What is the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid.

Sertac Guzel:
Assume you are one and only.

Saul Marquez:
How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?

Sertac Guzel:
Just scroll in a painful way. This change you’re going to change it.

Saul Marquez:
What is one area of focus that drives everything in your organization?

Sertac Guzel:
Customer.

Saul Marquez:
Love that. Gotta keep the customer at the center. And these last two set touch are more personal note for the listeners to get to know you. What is your number one health habit?

Sertac Guzel:
So number one the health habits would be I would say my occasional runs. I need to admit I’ve been looking worse at it recently, my occasional runs.

Saul Marquez:
It’s not intended to make you feel guilty, Sertac. You’re running, man. That’s good, that’s a health habit. That’s good man.

Sertac Guzel:
We signed up for a miracle with my wife.

Saul Marquez:
So you did? Nice. So when is that scheduled for?

Sertac Guzel:
This June.

Saul Marquez:
All right man. That’s good. We’ll be cheering for you from a distance. And congrats on that. Have you done one before.

Sertac Guzel:
No. This is going to be the first.

Saul Marquez:
Wow.

Sertac Guzel:
Really excited.

Saul Marquez:
That’s huge. And that is exciting.

Sertac Guzel:
Yeah.

Saul Marquez:
I love that man. And how about your number one success habit?

Sertac Guzel:
Number one success habit. Never stop. I would say like never stop, never give up. Yeah. It’s persistence. Yeah.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. It’s awesome man. You know you asked earlier in the podcast you know Hey what brings people in the health care and the answers vary. I will tell you though on the success habit, one of the most consistent ones that the very successful people we get on the podcast is persistence. So there’s something there. There’s something there.

Sertac Guzel:
You should publish those results so it would be really interesting to see.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. You know I’m going to be putting together a list of all the books which you’re going to recommend your book here in a second. And then all of the high level you know success and health habits because yeah I think a lot of people would find that interesting. So thank you for that request. So Sertac, what book would you recommend to the listeners?

Sertac Guzel:
I’m sure many people here already read 1984 I would say is my all time favorite.

Saul Marquez:
So by the way nobody has found that and it is one of my favorite books. I love that book.

Sertac Guzel:
That’s great. Yeah. No it’s amazing that you can apply it to anything right. It’s not like it’s maybe intended to be political. But I think it’s stronger applications in business life as well.

Saul Marquez:
I love that man. Cool. And you are the first to recommend that. So kudos.

Sertac Guzel:
Fantastic.

Saul Marquez:
Folks, for the show notes on today’s conversation with Mr. Sertac Guzel from Verb Surgical, you could go to outcomesrocket.health and in the search bar type in Verb Surgical or type in Sertac, that’s S E R T A C H – you’ll see the entire transcript come up there as well as show notes and links to the book as well as other resources we’ve discussed. Sertac, I’d love if you could just leave us with a closing thought and then the best place for the listeners could follow you and the company to continue the conversation.

Sertac Guzel:
Yeah sure I can. You know like you just mentioned Verb Surgical website is a good resource. We will be putting in our latest media announcements as well as key developments on the website. So and we have a communication box in our website. I would encourage our listeners to reach out if they have any inquiries or suggestions. As I mentioned earlier I mean we see where this is a big enough mission and if we shape you know all the feedback we can get and opportunities. So thanks much for listening and giving me this opportunity.

Saul Marquez:
Hey it’s a true privilege to spend time together, Sertac and looking forward to stand in touch.

Sertac Guzel:
Thank you Saul. We’re grateful.

Thanks for listening to the Outcomes Rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.health for the show notes, resources, inspiration and so much more.

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