Robotic Surgery Value

The interface between technology and medicine has been growing over many years but has greatly accelerated over the last few decades. From more detailed and precise imaging to the proliferation of endoscopy in many medical specialties and now robotics, the same questions have persisted throughout development, medical efficacy and cost. Today’s area of focus is robotic surgery, and the same questions persist.

Setting the stage, many operations are now assisted by robotics, including total and partial hip and knee replacement, plus general, gynecological and colorectal procedures.  The value of robotics, especially to insurance carriers, is the value of reduced patient recovery times, consistency of surgery with concomitant decreases in complications, and overall decrease in hospital length of stay. However, the value for hospitals/health systems is far less straightforward. After the initial purchase of the robotic equipment, it may be less expensive to operate and maintain the device than to have extra personnel in the operating room, and bot operating time and inpatient times are reduced. And these and other factors can lead to decrease costs, which is attractive in the payor environment of bundled payment and pay for performance.

But how can an organization determine if purchasing a robotic device is worth it to the hospital with various categories of increased revenue coupled with other categories of decreased costs. Is the potential for performing more surgery being offset by losses in hospital LOS? As you can see, there are numerous factors, none of which are linear, that contribute to the costs, both direct and indirect, of such procedures. So, how do you decide? Cost effectiveness analysis is the best method to evaluate these complex interactions enabling your hospital to make informed decisions as to whether or not to purchase robotic equipment. By using a decision tree, you can enter the different yet important factors that contribute to the total cost of the procedure, whether using robotic assistance or not. You can assign probabilities to the various factors to calculate an informed decision regarding whether to buy the robot. This is at a more sophisticated level then just a simple ROI calculation and can lead to more educated and certain results.

If your objective is to provide the best decision-making for your organization and take a global view of your business, expanding your sights beyond ROI, and educating other decision-makers, Cost Effectiveness Analysis can make your organization more competitive and more profitable.