Vision Surgery AI’s Karim Tamir on potential of computer vision to transform the operating theater. 

You have built a stellar career as an entrepreneur and investor in the Fintech space. What led you to move into healthcare?

At the end of the day, nothing is more important than health. Healthcare is a crucial industry, and this will continue to become more of a priority as the world population grows. I believe that, with technology, we can improve our quality of life and save a tremendous number of human lives by improving the way we deliver healthcare, while also making it more accessible to everyone.

Tell us the backstory of Vision Surgery AI. Has the technology been used in other industries? 

Vision Surgery AI was developed by a team that has decades of previous experience developing state-of-the-art AI and computer vision solutions that are used by the German government to monitor security in airports and train stations.

The use of video cameras to collect data is one of the great innovations of our time. The algorithms are able to interpret the images and make anonymized databases from them to feed the artificial intelligence models.

On a broader scale, AI and, more specifically, computer vision, are being used in a wide range of industries by major companies. The most well-known example is the use of computer vision for the navigation of autonomous vehicles.

With Vision Surgery AI, we saw the potential for how this technology could make it possible to reduce human error during surgery, while also cutting costs by better utilizing medical staff.

Congratulations on the recent investment you secured. Why did you choose partners such as  Principal Technologies, and what are your plans for the capital? 

Choosing to work with Principal Technologies was a strategic decision, as each of our interests are aligned. We anticipate significant synergies between Vision Surgery AI and the other companies in their portfolio and network that have the potential to significantly support our growth. Additional funding rounds are also planned for this year as our success in the market will require significant development and deployment resources.

What kind of things can be monitored by the solution in the OR? 

The cameras installed in the operating room allow us to detect anomalies in both audio and visual data which can be correlated to specific errors that may take place in the operating room. It can detect both human and system errors. This makes it possible to monitor surgical teams and operating room equipment in real-time to ensure that each procedure is performed correctly, and that patient vitals are consistently kept within safe ranges.

How do you anticipate the use of computer vision impacting insurance premiums for hospitals and doctors? 

The majority of accidental deaths and injuries during surgery are due to human error. Big data gathered by computer vision has the ability to enable AI to better manage and assess the risks in operating rooms. This will make it possible for insurance companies to better assess and price risk, potentially leading to reduced uncertainty, and consequently, more affordable insurance when appropriate.

How can this kind of technology improve patient safety? 

Decision support notification mechanisms could help surgeons identify potential problems, and ultimately help to identify and eliminate systemic risks.

Healthcare is perceived as slow to adopt and scale innovation. What could the sector learn from big finance? 

It is true that the field of health tends to be relatively conservative, but I believe that these attitudes are evolving. We are increasingly seeing robotic technology being used in surgeries; for example, Intuitive Surgical, which has a market capitalization of over $100 billion. This is a signal that this market is well established, and the demand is there.

Karim Tamir is an entrepreneur and investor with over 20 years of international banking, corporate finance and VC / private equity experience. Karim is also a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of startups in Fintech and Marketplace investments. He previously held various executive positions, Nordic Capital, Allianz Capital Partners, Founder and Managing Partner AIA Europe; Commerzbank. Karim has an MBA in Finance, a Masters in Engineering (M.Eng).