The Endovision Story (Why Endovision?)
Interventional endoscopy is an extremely fertile area for innovation. It was only 50 years ago that the flexible fiberoptic endoscope was invented, enabling the physician to directly visualize the gastrointestinal tract from the inside. Historically, the role of endoscopic therapy was mainly to palliate symptoms such as cancers causing blockages. This has changed with the development of new endoscopic procedures that are replacing surgery. The most exciting are new devices that enable the curative removal of cancerous and pre-cancerous growths. Digestive tract cancers are currently among the most common and deadliest, but could be eliminated with endoscopic therapy if detected early enough.
True paradigm shifts in endoscopic treatment are occurring, but these shifts need a constant infusion of innovation. New procedures require enabling tools. The traditional pathways for device development has been through either a company “start-up” or an existing large device company. Over the past decade there has been a steady erosion of both pathways due to changes in the economic climate of health care. Both start-ups and device companies depend on substantial investments (venture capital or internal funds, respectively) for device development, and investment sources are dwindling. Only those innovations that are expected to generate a very high return on investment receive funding. This discriminates against innovations that serve smaller patient populations or have uncertain market potential. Interventional endoscopy is constantly reinventing itself and future progress is threatened at its core!
Endovision was founded to offer an alternative model to fund research, innovation, and progress in interventional endoscopy. The non-profit model removes potential bias and conflicts-of-interest inherent in the VC- or industry-sponsored models. Rather than the stockholders, the Endovision model reports to and serves the patient.
Innovation to advance interventional endoscopy goes hand-in-hand with two additional missions of Endovision: Education of the public about endoscopic alternatives to surgery, and the mentoring of health care providers to disseminate these advances and optimize outcomes.