Leader in the Spotlight: Andrew Chang, H Robotics


Liz Moyles

This week ahead of LSI 2023 USA Dana Point, I was lucky to spend time with Andrew Chang, Head of US Business at H Robotics, which makes rebless™,  an FDA-registered robotic therapy device for rehabilitation. I find this particular space fascinating and see the benefit; not only for individuals who have suffered complications, such as neurological and musculoskeletal damage, but potentially for the ageing population to try to support motion preservation.

It enables passive, active, active-assisted and resisted training with range of motion measurement, so therapy can be customized based on each patient’s condition and progress. It is a fascinating and intelligent piece of kit. The size of the potential market is incredibly large. With the US and many other countries also suffering a shortage of trained physiotherapists and rehabilitation and outpatient or community specialists, there is also a growing and pressing need for this technology and others like it!

Andrew - thank for your time. I know how busy you are, so let's get into it! How did you end up in your role and in this industry? Where did your passion for medical devices / medical technology come from?

At the onset of my career as a software engineer, I had the privilege of collaborating with some of the most dedicated and skilled engineers in Korea. Our conversations centered around our personal aspirations, and one software developer, deemed a prodigy by his peers, shared his lifelong goal of positively impacting human lives. This profound statement resonated with me, sparking a desire to contribute to projects that would leave a lasting positive impression on humanity.

During my 18-year tenure at an enterprise software company - prior to joining H Robotics - I observed a multitude of industry evolutions, including virtualization, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. A recent, striking development was the extension of software beyond the confines of computers, initiating tangible interactions with humans in the physical world - an experience I found deeply compelling.

Despite their remarkable technology, robotics companies continue to face challenges in devising suitable business models. Upon discovering H Robotics, I realized that it embodied my lifelong dream of working on projects with a positive impact on human lives, unshackling software from the limitations of traditional computing, and implementing a viable business model for the real world. For me, this opportunity was nothing short of a dream come true.


You spoke about challenges - in this field, the journey to your end goal can be quite long and sometimes bumpy. On a day-to-day basis what motivates you and keeps you engaged?

Our collaboration extends to a diverse range of surgeons, therapists, and patients. The driving force behind our team's motivation is witnessing the genuine belief that people have in our products, coupled with their accelerated recovery process.

By revolutionizing traditional therapy through cutting-edge robotics technology, we are at the forefront of a movement with immense potential to enhance the efficiency of human recovery while reducing associated costs. Each day, we are gratified to find that esteemed surgeons and clinicians place their trust in our passion and ardently support our success. This unwavering encouragement serves as a powerful incentive for our team to persevere in our endeavours.


What is it that you find so motivating / humbling?

Many of our patients have gone through traditional medical care system and still suffer.


You clearly believe in your product, but what is so special about your technology / solution?

rebless™ is an all-in-one system that delivers active therapy for the knee, elbow, wrist, and ankle. This innovative approach replaces traditional methods, which required patients to use separate systems for each joint and did not offer active therapy, a crucial element for enhanced recovery.

The smart robot in rebless™ recognizes when a patient is actively engaged in an exercise and, instead of completing the exercise for them like in passive mode, it assists the patient in finishing the exercise.

Additionally, rebless™ captures valuable data during exercise sessions that can be shared with clinicians. This information helps in creating personalized recovery programs tailored to the specific needs of each patient, ensuring optimal results.


That is smart! What exciting plans and future are you working towards next?

We envision revolutionizing physical therapy through the integration of robotics, software, and AI technology, unlocking limitless possibilities. Our next objective is to develop remote rehabilitation services for individuals recovering from orthopedic surgeries. The widespread availability of tele-rehabilitation following the COVID pandemic has benefited the general public, but those in dire need of assistance, such as post-surgery patients, have been unable to utilize tele-rehab due to the difficulty of performing rehabilitation routines independently.

Our goal is to enable remote therapy for post-orthopedic surgery patients by offering at-home robotic rehab solutions, seamlessly paired with top-tier remote physical therapy delivered by highly qualified and certified professionals.


That would be so useful for recovering patients, Andrew! So, how is the market receiving your product / solution? What makes you most proud in this area?

Orthopaedic surgeons have been impressed by the remarkable outcomes achieved when incorporating rebless™ therapy into the recovery process. Additionally, neuro patients have experienced improvements and have shared their positive feedback. We take immense pride in being at the forefront of this at-home robotic solution, spearheading the path for the industry to emulate.


That must be so satisfying. What opportunities do you see out there in the medical devices world to be more innovative in offering patients and clinicians a more joined up solution?

The forthcoming revolution will be driven by data, AI, and robotics, paving the way for more personalized treatment for each patient. One of the most significant challenges in neuro recovery is that neuroplasticity demands considerable time and effort from both therapists and patients. Consequently, it is nearly unattainable to realize full recovery potential through in-clinic therapy alone under the current medical system.

By introducing robotics, AI, and virtual reality, we can not only make full recovery more feasible, but also transform the recovery journey into a more enjoyable experience. This will ultimately enable a greater number of patients to reach their maximum recovery potential.


If you had found a time capsule from the future – it’s from 2033 – what do you think our market would look like?

The year 2033 is not too distant, and in many ways, things may remain the same. However, we currently reside in an era that has witnessed the emergence of a new form of intelligence - artificial intelligence (AI) - an unprecedented development in human history. In the coming years, AI is expected to not only surpass average human intelligence but also exceed the expertise of the world's greatest minds in fields such as medicine and law, while possessing extensive experience (or data) from patients and clinicians.

Coupled with advancements in robotics, it is conceivable that we may interact with AI clinicians rather than human clinicians. Insurance providers may increasingly cover therapies offered by AI and robotic devices due to their efficacy and cost-effectiveness. Of course, this vision of the future assumes that we successfully avoid any conflicts with Terminators.


I do hope we avoid the Terminators!! What advice would you give to someone who's looking to enter this space? Whether that's a fresh grad straight out of university, but then also someone looking to transition their career?

I highly recommend exploring the medical robotics industry for those considering a career change. This field is still in its nascent stages, offering ample opportunities for both industry and technological growth. Moreover, the enhancements we introduce will positively influence the lives of ourselves and our loved ones. Witnessing smiles on people's faces and assisting them in rediscovering joy in their lives is an immensely rewarding experience that few industries can provide. Medical technology will revolutionize the speed and processes of treatment, much like software and robotics have transformed the way we conduct business today.


Finally, what song would get you jigging on the dance floor?

I DON’T DANCE. With that being said, maybe “Uptown Funk” will make my arms move a little.


Thanks Andrew - I’m almost tempted to play that song just to see that little arm jiggle!!!! Thanks for your time and good luck to all at H Robotics. I am supporting you all the way.

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