Founder Feature: MirrorMe3D
In 2010, 51.4 million surgical procedures were performed in the United States.
From cosmetic surgery, to breast reduction, to post-trauma facial reconstruction, surgical procedures of all scales and types have become increasingly prevalent across the United States in the 21st century. Despite this prevalence, the complications of ill-performed surgical procedures still remain a pressing issue.
3% of hospitalized patients who received surgical procedures experience adverse complications as a result of their operation. While 3% may appear to be a relatively low rate of error, 3% of 51.4 million surgeries results in roughly 1.5 million surgical procedures with serious health complications per year. These complications range from steep drops in blood pressure, hemorrhaging, wound infection, and many more deadly consequences. Furthermore, in 2002, the American College of Surgeons calculated that the average American will undergo 9.2 surgeries in their lifetime. Americans are receiving not one, but multiple surgical procedures, which multiplies the associated risk nine times over per individual. In short, our modern day surgical prowess is insufficient given the widespread necessity for operations. Surgery is currently far from a risk-free process, even in the United States.
To mitigate some of the risks associated with surgical procedures, surgeons have turned to 3D printing as a useful tool for increasing patient safety and overall precision on the operating table.
One company looking to accelerate the 3D modeling industry, and increase patient and clinician accessibility to surgical templates, is MirrorMe3D, based in New York. MirrorMe3D creates full-color, patient-specific 3-D soft-tissue models, useful for modeling surgical procedures. Using .mtl files from high-quality 3-D cameras, engineers at MirrorMe3D perfect and cut exact replicas of surgical processes. By creating intensely precise templates made of flesh-like soft tissue material, surgeons can conduct complex and intricate surgeries with greater accuracy, diminishing the overall rate of surgeon error. Additionally, by providing patients with 3-D models of their surgical procedures, patients can visualize their procedure before it happens, providing a piece of mind. Patients and surgeons alike have provided positive feedback on MirrorMe3D’s innovate approach to surgical modeling, contributing to higher patient satisfaction and safety.
We spoke with Jordan Mills, CEO at MirrorMe3D, to understand how MirrorMe3D has improved surgical procedures thus far, and the impact that MirrorMe3D’s soft-tissue 3D modeling has for the future of surgery.
Interview with CEO Jordan Mills
How was MirrorMe3D started?
Jordan Mills (JM): Our faces are central to our identity so we should be as careful with our outcomes on the soft tissue as we are for hard tissue. 3D modeling and planning are standard of care for hard tissue which left our founder Carrie Stern, a plastic surgery resident at the time, wondering, “What about soft tissue?” So to start: we made soft tissue models, showed them to some friends in the community (including Dr. Oren Tepper, one of the most well-published surgeons on 3D technology in medicine), had them test the models and visualizations throughout their process, and, in the end, it all went better than we could have expected. That’s really how we got into the business of 3D planning and 3D models for soft tissue. From there, the more we did 3D planning alongside the surgeon and 3D modeling, the more we realized the entire ecosystem is missing an accessible 3D component for soft tissue surgeries.
Can you explain what MirrorMe3D does? What challenge are you striving to solve?
JM: Essentially, we unite patients and surgeons by making the most complete patient data set available to both the patient and the surgeon any time anywhere in the world. This includes, of course, hard tissue information, but we are the first to offer hard tissue plus soft tissue in a secure platform. There are myriad benefits to the surgeon and the patient. One of the most important we feel is communication in real-time, whether that’s patient to surgeon or surgeon to surgeon. There are many features which aid in advanced planning and analysis for the surgeon as well as intraoperative augmented reality allowing the surgeon to better assess progress during surgery.
What advantages do personalized 3D models of patients provide for plastic surgeons as opposed to traditional techniques?
JM: Traditionally, when it comes to the soft tissue, either 2D photos are used as a reference or nothing at all. This is a technique which has been documented as early as the Civil War. When you stop to think about this, it’s really crazy that we’re using the same method for patient evaluation and intraoperative decision making. By having patient specific models, the surgeon has the most reliable reference for intraoperative decision making. It’s important to note as well, that models can benefit patients in terms of understanding their baseline anatomy better. Remember, you’ve never seen yourself in 3D (unless you have your own 3D model already!)
Is the development of 3D models something that hospitals already have the capability to do in-house?
JM: So, the difference is that we do this all day every day. The surgeon gains the advantage of leveraging our expertise alongside their planning process. Certainly, hospitals are interested in 3D printing and can probably figure out how to make models but it’s important to remember that 3D printers aren’t like a microwave. To fully prepare models for use, there are a lot of pre-printing steps required for greater accuracy and post-processing steps to ensure the highest level of safety. I think it will be interesting to watch what happens as the FDA continues to weigh in on the 3D printing market and its role in healthcare.
How does MirrorMe3D increase accessibility to 3D data?
JM: The MirrorMe3D platform is both HIPAA compliant and GDPR compliant, which means patients control their data. From sharing their data with their doctor to granting access to specialists, we are the first platform to take care in building something that truly puts the patient first. It’s really in our DNA, actually. Our models have always been patient specific and now our platform is patient centric.
How many surgeons have used MirrorMe3D so far?
JM: We work mostly within the plastic surgery niche. Most people don’t realize how expansive the practice of plastic surgery is. Of course, there’s cosmetic surgery, but the reconstructive side of plastic surgery is far larger and includes: facial restoration after trauma, correction of congenital defects, breast reconstruction and much more. We work with surgeons worldwide and have a number of special products in the works to expand our reach even more (including additional surgical specialties!).
What feedback have you received from MirrorMe3D users?
JM: Plastic surgeons who have been using 3D printing for hard tissue almost immediately get it. There are certainly detractors, but I think that’s in response to soft tissue planning being a new frontier. We’re fortunate to have some really great advocates that are very well-respected, which has been instrumental to how we’ve gotten to where we are today. On the patient side of things, patients really love us. Anecdotally, we’ve heard from patients that 3D planning and models reduce anxiety because they have a chance to understand more clearly the changes they can expect from surgery and have additional modes of communicating with their doctor as they prep for procedures.
Is MirrorMe3D covered by insurance carriers, Medicaid, and/or Medicare?
JM: Not yet, but it’s certainly on our radar and something we’re working towards. We think the best possible care should be in the hands of everyone and that includes access to their imaging data.
What are the next 3 major milestones for MirrorMe3D?
JM: The first two that come to mind are releasing our augmented reality functionality (coming soon!) and onboarding our 1,000th user. But, truthfully, the most exciting milestone is what we strive for every day which is unlocking 3D data so that all patients, the world over, have access to the best care possible.