Freeman Health System’s Dr. Grant Pierson Performs 200th Procedure in Less Than Two Years

(Joplin, MO) – A new innovation that holds promise to fight lung cancer is now in use at Freeman Health System. Used to view the inside of the lungs and obtain a tissue sample for biopsy, the goal of Auris Health’s MONARCH™ platform is to enable earlier and more accurate diagnosis of small and hard-to-reach nodules in the periphery of the lung.

The technology integrates the latest advancements in robotics, software, data science, and endoscopy (the use of small cameras and tools to enter the body through its natural openings). Freeman is among the first hospitals in the United States to utilize the platform, which was recently cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, in part because it has no symptoms in its early stages. Because the MONARCH platform provides improved reach, vision and control for bronchoscopic procedures, it holds potential to help us to make a diagnosis earlier,” said Dr. Grant Pierson, Freeman pulmonologist. “We are excited about the promise of this technology to offer a more hopeful future for our patients with lung cancer. With a traditional bronchoscope, trying to look at an eight-millimeter nodule in multiple airways of the lung, I would have to guess where to make turns. MONARCH takes the guesswork out of the bronchoscopy because I never lose sight. I’m enthusiastic because the possibilities with this technology are endless. I foresee being able to biopsy a nodule for diagnosis and then initiate treatment even before a patient walks out the door.”

More than 90% of people diagnosed with lung cancer do not survive the disease, in part because it is often found at an advanced stage, and lung cancer has a lower five-year survival rate than other common cancers. However, if diagnosed and treated early, survival rates increase greatly. There are a variety of diagnostic options currently available for lung cancer, but all have limitations in accuracy, safety or invasiveness. These limitations can lead to false positives, false negatives or side effects such as pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and hemorrhage, which may increase healthcare costs and extend hospital stays.

“Lung cancer can be particularly difficult to diagnose because the airways are full of twists and turns, reaching deep into the lungs,” said Paula Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. “The MONARCH platform integrates the latest advancements in robotics, software, data science and endoscopy. It helps our pulmonologists find lung nodules earlier through the least invasive approach.”

The MONARCH platform utilizes a familiar controller-like interface that physicians use to navigate the flexible robotic endoscope to the periphery of the lung with improved reach, vision and control. Combining traditional endoscopic views into the lung with computer-assisted navigation based on 3-D models of the patient’s own lung anatomy, the MONARCH platform provides physicians with continuous bronchoscope vision throughout the entire procedure. Additionally, each component of the bronchoscope can be independently articulated, advanced, retracted and positionally locked, enabling physicians greater control and maneuverability deep in the lung, where most small nodules are found.

About Freeman Health System

Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center — the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services — as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2020, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2020. With more than 320 physicians on staff representing more than 80 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit


Liz Syer, Director of Marketing
Freeman Health System

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