As a family-owned and operated business, Erbe develops, manufactures and markets surgical systems for professional use in various medical disciplines all over the world. Erbe technology leads the market in many countries and is therefore an inherent part of the working processes in the OR. The portfolio comprises devices and instruments for electrosurgery, thermofusion, plasma surgery, cryosurgery and hydro surgery. By combining these technologies, innovative applications become possible, particularly in General Surgery, Gastroenterology, Gynaecology, Pulmonology and Urology. Erbe employs more than 1300 people worldwide, over 650 of them in Germany. Approx. 170 employees work in research and development. The intensive collaboration with renowned users from medical schools and hospitals is the key to success with which Erbe successfully furthers developments in medicine.
Christian O. Erbe has been running it in fifth generation since 1996. Following Reiner Thede's retirement, Christian O. Erbe restructures the management board in 2020 with Dr. Helmut Scherer, Daniel Zimmermann, Prof. Markus Enderle and Marcus Felstead.
This new management structure strengthens the future viability of the company, enabling it to achieve the goals of the Group's strategy for sustained profitable growth. To continue this positive development, the Management is focusing on internationalization, digitization, and environmental sustainability and promoting a culture of responsibility in all departments and Areas.
Erbe is opening up new markets and thus expanding its competitive position to be able to offer superior customer benefits as a solution provider, both medically and economically.
Erbe Singapore was founded in 2013 with Fritz Maier as its appointed Managing Director. Erbe Singapore’s core activities are sales, marketing and education and technical services for our products in our region. Our region spans Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, South Asia, and Korea including the Pacific Islands. In the recent years, Erbe Singapore has taken on global roles in the field of clinical studies, marketing communication and digital solutions.
Fritz Maier spoke to Asian Hospital and Healthcare Management Magazine, about their recent venture: The Erbe Academy in Singapore
Why is education so important for Erbe Singapore?
We work with employees and distribution partners in the region to ensure that our customers receive the right products at the right time and know exactly how to use them. It is therefore important that they are consistently educated on the latest developments of our product portfolio. Our products are safety-related and, if wrongly used, can cause harm to the user and/or the patient. Therefore, proper education is of utmost importance to us, and a mandatory requirement from the regulators. Furthermore, our products are an integral part during the education of the next generation of Surgeons and Gastroenterologists. We partner up with societies to train basic techniques and new and advanced procedures that incorporate the use of our products.
Tell us more about the Erbe Academy in Singapore. What’s that and how did you establish it?
At the Erbe Academy, we offer many courses and trainings. We share our experience and our know-how and train the participants in using our technologies. We do this for our own employees in sales, technical service and marketing. And we do this for external parties like doctors, nurse technicians, and many more medical disciplines. In the meantime, more than 40,000 persons have taken part in our trainings! At our headquarters in Tübingen, we have a physical academy, worldwide we have been training people “on the road”. Erbe Academy in Singapore will be the first academy abroad. It is based in the German Centre in Singapore and it a makes use of a facility called the Life Science Incubator (LSI) which is a hands-on lab with a simulated operating theatre where people can experience our devices first hand. We can use the meeting and conference facilities for small and large groups. Our office is located there as well.
Which target groups/medical professionals do you address with your academy?
While we certainly address our own employees as well as our distribution partners with typical 1-week seminars, we are planning a large portfolio of customized trainings for nurses as well as doctors in different specialties and fields of expertise. We want our customers to be comfortable and at ease once we install our products, therefore we created this virtual training ground where they can familiarize themselves with our products before they use them in their hospitals.
Do the trainings take place at your premises, on-site at the hospital or digitally via Zoom?
During the pandemic, it got increasingly difficult for us to visit the hospitals themselves, hence we decided to create this space so that our customers can come and visit us with any group size that is allowed. At the same time, our space also has hybrid connectivity, which allows our customers to be trained remotely, not only because of Covid-19 but also the sheer size of APAC that we cover. If a doctor from French Polynesia or Tahiti would like to join us for a training, it would take him or her several days to reach Singapore, imagine that! Therefore, it is more convenient for them to join our trainings digitally.
What is the initial feedback?
During the first Academy training, we conducted the first 5-day International Surgery and Resection seminar. We had 9 participants from four countries and they all enjoyed not only the location of the training but also the training content and the concept of theory and hands-on which gives them excellent theoretical as well as experiential learning experience.
What is the content of the training? What are the objectives of the training?
The content of the training can be a large range but will always include the actual use of our devices and instruments. It could be more focused on how to set them up and how to operate them correctly. Or it could be a training of a specific procedure for example endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) which is the resection of early cancer in the gastrointestinal tract. This procedure can be conveniently trained on ex-vivo models and requires repetitive hand skill training that doctors can ideally perform in our new premises.
Training Programs at the Erbe Academy in Singapore – training our employees, distribution partners and healthcare professionals
In a typical seminar for our employees and or distribution partners …we conduct both lectures and hands on sessions that educate them on the different topics/disciplines, technologies and clinical applications. We mainly conduct two 5-day seminars, 1) Surgery and Resection Seminar and 2) Flexible Endoscopy Seminar. The Surgery and Resection Seminar focuses on General Surgery, Gynaecology, Urology and Hepatology in correlation with both open surgery and laparoscopy. During this seminar, we also focus on imaging technologies, that is used during laparoscopy. The Flexible Endoscopy Seminar focuses on Gastroenterology and Pulmonology. These trainings help our employees and distribution partners to better understand our products and technologies.
The trainings for healthcare professionals will be kicked off with customized trainings for Gastroenterology and Interventional Pulmonology as well as a course covering Basics of Electrosurgery & Safety in the OR. Before developing trainings for other specialties such as General Surgery, Urology, thyroid surgery, liver surgery, breast surgery (which could incorporate the use of ICG fluorescence imaging). These trainings will be targeted at surgeons, endoscopists, nurses and biomedical engineers.
We plan to have these didactic sessions on a weekday afternoon, combined with lectures, cases discussions and practical session into a 2-4hrs package. Now, let’s have a look at how such a customized gastroenterology and pulmonology training is conducted.
The session starts off with lectures on the fundamentals of electrosurgery (power, modes, effects), before focusing on how electrosurgery can be utilized in gastroenterology applications. (including the introduction of some of our proprietary waveforms such as endoCUT, preciseSECT and softCOAG). The next focus will be on the basics and application of Argon Plasma Coagulation (for angioectasias, radiation proctitis, post polypectomy/EMR margin ablation, etc). Participants will then be given the opportunity to discuss challenging cases and share experiences and solutions. The session will conclude with a practical session in the Erbe Academy – LSI Lab, where participants will be able to apply what they have learned on porcine explants with the endoscope together with Erbe technology.
With a similar training style, IP sessions start off with lectures, explaining ‘Fire & Ice’; electrosurgery, plasma surgery & cryosurgery. Before focusing on the various applicative regions of the lung; central airway obstruction, peripheral pulmonary lesions, interstitial lung disease, lymph nodes and nodule biopsies. After case discussions and sharing, participants will experience Erbe technology on porcine explants through a bronchoscope.
The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us the benefits of remote streaming and virtual capabilities. Such trainings could tap on the global reach of experts and connect them to our session. These experts could facilitate the session with live/recorded lectures, demonstrations, surgeries.
How big is your training team, who are the trainers?
The training team currently consists of 8 people and we have started with the first resource here in APAC and we will add more with the course of the growth of the Academy. We have full support from our headquarters in Tübingen, Germany. The trainers from the training team came down to Singapore and it was a great pleasure to collaborate closely with our training team. Our clinical and hands-on trainings are developed and conducted in tandem with the Clinical Application Team, a global team of specialists who spends their time with physicians, figuring out their needs and the appropriate way to teach in simulated environments.
What do the participants particularly appreciate?
The participants enjoyed the hands-on sessions during the training. This allowed them to understand the technologies much better in terms of application to real-life settings. The technicalities behind electrosurgery helped our participants understand our products better.
Getting hands-on on the actual devices and performing minimally invasive surgery techniques on ex-vivo models is always exciting and allows even non-physicians to get a glimpse of how difficult it is for example to hold a flexible endoscope.
What are the challenges of training the next generation?
For our next generation, which is used to access their gadgets at any point of time, training has to follow new learning elements. We have particularly singled out 6 elements which are:
- Brief and Beautiful – mirroring what they see on their mobile devices
- Agile and Accessible – short intervals of digital bursts – just like TikTok
- Instant and Intelligent – quick videos and how to articles
- Collaborative and Communal – Creating digital communities
- Relevant and Relatable – solving real problems that the learner has
- Blend and Bind – merging the real world with digital
With these challenging requirements- fulfilling the needs of our employees and customers within a blended hybrid world of learning and having to stimulate the next generation - the Erbe Singapore team is looking forward to fulfilling programs of education in our new space.
The Erbe Academy in Singapore – the future is ours.