[Reblog] How hospitals recoup the cost of buying robotic surgery systems (& questions to ask surgeon before consenting to robotic surgery)
The blogger known only as the Skeptical Scalpel (self-described as a surgeon for 40 years and a surgical department chairman and residency program director for over 23 of those years) continueshis thread of posts raising questions about the proliferation of robotic surgery.
The latest is entitled “Study: Robotic surgery financials explained.” It’s his take on a paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists. Excerpts:
The headline, “Robotic Hysterectomy Cuts Blood Loss in Obese,” is certainly catchy. Let’s look deeper.
The lead author said, “The robotic hysterectomy does … offer lower rates of conversion to laparotomy but does cause higher facility and total charges, as well as higher reimbursement rates.” The mean total hospital charge for robotic hysterectomy was $44,700 versus $25,557, a statistically significant difference. The average charge for the robotic instruments was $8,322 compared to $3,762 for standard laparoscopy equipment, also a significant difference. In response to a question about why there was such a disparity, the lead author said: “The charges are likely to recoup the cost of the robot purchase. We have multiple robots … four at our main institution and several others at other sites.”
The reimbursement actually received for robotic hysterectomy was $19,000 and for standard laparoscopic, a mere $$8,000.
I congratulate the authors for their candor [though no doubt inadvertent] in sharing the financial data and the reasons why robotic surgery is more costly. I am gobsmacked* at the differential in charges and reimbursement for the two types of hysterectomy and that the secret would be so openly shared.
I guess someone has to help the hospital “recoup the cost of the robot purchase.” But I wonder why third party payers are shelling out almost two-and-a half times more money for a procedure that has not been proven more effective than standard laparoscopic surgery?
And you wonder why health care costs are skyrocketing?
- Could pricey surgical robots make their way into medium-sized hospitals? (medcitynews.com)
- Health Watch: Robotic Sleep Apnea Surgery (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- Men’s hopes for robot prostate surgery unrealistic: Study (vancouversun.com)
- Pricey Surgery Robots Lack Clear Benefits (nlm.nih.gov)
- Stemming the Tide of Overtreatment in Health Care (Chicago Tribune)
- Robotic surgeries costlier but safer than more invasive techniques (healthzone.ca)
- Remote-control surgery grows despite inconclusive evidence (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Houston Colorectal Surgeon Discusses Advanced Robotic Surgery for Cancer Treatment (prweb.com)
- Problems with robotic surgery (myblogroboticsurgery.wordpress.com)
- So many questions…. (myblogroboticsurgery.wordpress.com)
“When hospitals buy robots they also use them as a marketing tool in direct-to-consumer marketing. That startedwith the drug companies and it worked well. It’s very effective,” said Dr. Hugh Lavery, a urologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York who authored the study.”
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