Virgo was recently selected to join the Summer ’17 NYC Techstars accelerator program, and we are launching our first product later this month. With this in mind, I thought it would be beneficial to explain a bit about what we are working on and why we are so excited to be working on it.
Virgo provides a cloud-based video recording platform for colonoscopies. The system is incredibly user friendly, especially compared to the medical hardware and software to which physicians are accustomed.
Before Virgo, gastroenterologists had to carry around unsecure DVDs and external hard drives just to record their procedures. As a result, the vast majority of colonoscopies went unrecorded, with perhaps only a few still images saved per case.
Virgo helps doctors stay organized and use this video content for research, training, quality improvement, and patient education.
You may ask why we chose to solve this problem, and every company has an origin story. For us, it was a convergence of serendipity, curiosity, strangers, and friends that led to the formation of Virgo.
I was 13 years old when my dad bought an iMac with iMovie and a digital camcorder. It took about a week for my friends and me to start making home movies. We parodied Mission Impossible and Scream, made a music video for Michael Jackson’s Beat It, and created a stop motion video of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures breakdancing. I spent hours editing those movies instead of studying.
Those hours paid off, and I eventually became a product manager for a medical device company. For every new product launch, I would observe surgeries and help doctors learn to use the new equipment. I always tried to capture and edit video from the cases.
The video footage we captured became our best asset. We turned surgical footage into sales tools, marketing pieces, and educational clips for both patients and surgeons.
Then, while working at a robotic surgery company, I noticed even more opportunities to capture medical video. However, the existing equipment for recording medical video is challenging to set up and records onto DVDs and external hard drives. Doctors and nurses rarely, if ever, use the equipment — they have better things to worry about.
While screening colonoscopy is an effective tool for detecting pre-cancerous polyps, colorectal cancer remains the third leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States at over 50,000 per year. There is good reason to believe that the systematic video recording of colonoscopies will lead to even better medicine. We founded Virgo to make that a reality.
Video is becoming ubiquitous in society. Three hundred hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Facebook serves over 8 billion video views per day. Clearly, video is an incredible communication tool.
A simple cliché explains why video is so powerful:
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a 15 minute colonoscopy video is worth 54 million words (15 mins * 60 secs * 60 frames/sec * 1000 words/frame). It is estimated that there are 14 million colonoscopies per year in the US alone. That’s 7.56 * 10¹⁴ words, or about 15 billion times more words than are contained in my favorite novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut.
But before Virgo, no one was writing all those words down. By recording clinical videos and writing these words down, physicians will be able to practice their craft better than ever before by reducing errors, cutting waste out of the system, and better educating patients.
Magical things start happening when you record lots of video. You notice things that you hadn’t noticed before. You learn things. Other people learn things from you.
We expect the same magical things to happen in medicine. We’re working with gastroenterologists at UCLA, Harvard, Penn Medical Center, UCSF, Rush University, UMASS, Indiana University, and Duke University, all of whom are excited to record their procedures. Like us, they believe systematic video recording will benefit research, training, quality of care, and patient education. Even more exciting are all the applications they haven’t thought of yet.
We’re at the beginning of this journey, and we’re looking for talented software developers, hardware engineers, data scientists, and all those passionate about improving healthcare through technology to come join us. If this sounds like you or someone you know, please reach out.
CEO & Co-Founder, Virgo
P.S. If you know a gastroenterologist that would be interested in learning more about Virgo’s technology, be sure to forward this post to them!