It turns out that robots aren’t all that great for healthcare yet. A recent MSN article highlights this:
- “While there may be some advantages to the use of robotics in complex hysterectomies, especially for cancer operations that require extensive surgery and removal of lymph nodes, studies have shown that adding this expensive technology for routine surgical care does not improve patient outcomes. Consequently, there is no good data proving that robotic hysterectomy is even as good as — let alone better — than existing, and far less costly, minimally invasive alternatives,” Dr. James Breeden, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), said in a statement released.
- He noted that robotic hysterectomy is the most expensive method, with a price of more than $1.7 million per robot, $125,000 in annual maintenance costs, and up to $2,000 per surgery for the cost of single-use surgical instruments.
- One recent study found that the percentage of hysterectomies performed robotically rose from less than 0.5 percent to nearly 10 percent over the past three years. Another study of more than 264,000 hysterectomy patients found that robotic surgery added an average of $2,000 per procedure without any proven benefit, Breeden said.
- “If most women undergoing hysterectomy for benign conditions each year chose a vaginal or laparoscopic procedure — rather than TAH or robotic hysterectomy — performed by skilled and experienced surgeons, pain and recovery times would be reduced while providing dramatic savings to our health care system. Conversely, an estimated $960 million to $1.9 billion will be added to the health care system if robotic surgery is used for all hysterectomies each year,” Breeden said.
This may be true but how are hospitals going to outdo their competition without such cool toys as surgical robots?