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The Future Is Now: “Now we can do incisionless surgery” With INSIGHTEC CEO Maurice R. Ferré MD and Fotis Georgiadis

Incisionless surgery is completely a game-changer. With no incisions, there is no risk of infection, which is a leading issue in hospitals today. Moreover, patients can return home the same day. Same day surgery reduces the burden and cost of healthcare. More specifically, let me talk about essential tremor. The millions, yes millions of people […]


Incisionless surgery is completely a game-changer. With no incisions, there is no risk of infection, which is a leading issue in hospitals today. Moreover, patients can return home the same day. Same day surgery reduces the burden and cost of healthcare. More specifically, let me talk about essential tremor. The millions, yes millions of people living with essential tremor who don’t get relief from medication, now have a treatment option that has been shown to immediately improve debilitating hand tremor. People can get back to being independent, socializing and living their lives.


I had the pleasure to interview Maurice R. Ferré MD. Maurice is the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors at INSIGHTEC and responsible for driving the company’s mission of establishing focused ultrasound as a standard of care. Under Maurice’s leadership, Exablate Neuro received FDA approval for treatment of essential tremor and is being adopted in medical centers across the U.S. and globally.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I grew up in a family of leaders and doers. My great-grandfather was a French engineer involved in the construction of the Panama Canal. My grandfather owned businesses in Puerto Rico, the US, Venezuela, and Panama. My father was the first Hispanic Mayor of Miami, serving six terms. My aunt was known as the “Mother Teresa of Puerto Rico.” An impressive heritage, yes, but I wanted to make a different impact on the community and attended medical school. Fresh out of Boston University Medical school, I accepted a fellowship in an Entrepreneurship Program. This was my defining moment and I knew that this was my calling — combining business and medicine.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I think that opportunities appear in our lives on a continuous basis. What’s important is what you do with them. I have been blessed to build a career that combines my two passions — building companies and medical innovation. It is so very rewarding because we have the potential to impact so many lives.

Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Interesting that you use the term bleeding edge. When surgery is performed with sound, not only is there no edge of a blade, there is also no blood. INSIGHTEC technology uses focused ultrasound, similar to what is used to monitor a pregnancy, but with higher energy. This energy is focused to heat a small spot deep in the brain that controls the shaking symptom of essential tremor.

How do you think this might change the world?

Incisionless surgery is completely a game-changer. With no incisions, there is no risk of infection, which is a leading issue in hospitals today. Moreover, patients can return home the same day. Same day surgery reduces the burden and cost of healthcare. More specifically, let me talk about essential tremor. The millions, yes millions of people living with essential tremor who don’t get relief from medication, now have a treatment option that has been shown to immediately improve debilitating hand tremor. People can get back to being independent, socializing and living their lives.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Implanted devices might be an area of concern for patients. One of the benefits of focused ultrasound is that it is a one-time treatment and does not require a brain implant. I am OK with wearables — they help us monitor our health. But the growing use of permanent implants that could potentially be hacked — not so much.

Secondly, there is a growing number of elderly people shutting themselves off from society due to chronic conditions, including essential tremor. The thought of millions of people shut up in their homes with little social interaction is really dark. Focused ultrasound is an innovation that has potential to return these people to living independent and active lives.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

For centuries, surgeons have been cutting away diseased tissue. It took the vision of Kobi Vortman, our founder, to make the impossible possible. The idea of performing surgery with no cuts may sound like something from science fiction, but it is real. The tipping point was when Kobi understood that sound waves could treat with surgical precision while MRI could act as the eyes and thermometer of the treatment. The two technologies used together is truly the breakthrough.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

For widespread adoption, we need two things: First is insurance coverage and we are making excellent headway there. Right now, there is Medicare coverage in 25 states and more than 10 Blue Cross Blue Shield plans including Federal for focused ultrasound for essential tremor.

Second, is the push from patients requesting the treatment. People may be living with essential tremor and not seeking treatment. We need to get the word out that there is an incisionless option available at the Neuravive Treatment Centers across the US.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

Yes, we are running an online essential tremor awareness campaign and working with patient advocacy groups to amplify our efforts. In addition, we have implemented direct to consumer marketing programs, both online and off. Targeted digital campaigns have proven to be very effective in building a funnel of people interested in focused ultrasound. Most importantly we are building a community of people with essential tremor where they can feel connected.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I had the honor to be part of a unique entrepreneurial residency at BU where I met and worked with Ferenc Jolesz from Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Jolesz, the father of image-guided surgery, advanced the use of imaging for minimally invasive therapies. His influence on me has come full circle at INSIGHTEC because this amazing researcher also pioneered the first MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgical (MRgFUS) procedure.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

When you build successful medical device companies you are bringing good to the world. I have made it my life’s work to be involved in companies that are transforming the healthcare industry in order to transform people’s lives. Every patient story has become an actual part of the fabric of my entrepreneurial spirit.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Take risks. At MAKO, I had to make decisions that went against the common belief that no one would buy a million-dollar robot for partial knee replacement.

2. Raise capital. To start VTI, I had a mentor who had the right connections and arranged meetings with the right people for the necessary financing.

3. When you fail, learn and get back up again. It sounds trite, but our failures are our strength.

4. Surround yourself with people who are willing to tell you what you need to hear. At all of my companies, I have brought in people who can challenge me and my decisions. Through that, we all grow.

5. Give back. I joined the Endeavor Miami board and have the opportunity to mentor young entrepreneurs at a local level.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

That is easy — I am part of a movement today. The incisionless surgery movement that INSIGHTEC is leading. Today focused ultrasound is treating essential tremor and getting people back to living their lives tremor-free. The future of our technology is boundless and has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people around the world living with challenging diseases.

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