PodMed TT – The Cost of Robotic Surgery

What is the impact of robots on surgery? They’re really expensive, Rick and I conclude on PodMed TT this week, as found in a research letter in JAMA.

This study examined just how much robots add to the cost of procedures in which they are used and found an average uptick of $3,568 per operation. That additional cost was apportioned between costs of the instruments and accessories, the cost of the robot system and the cost of the service contract.

The authors note that one company is largely the provider, and therefore stakeholder, in this technology, and that their total revenue in 2017 was $3.1 billion. Hmmm.

Rick and I remind everyone that outcomes for robotic procedures are not shown to be superior, although it is possible that cost savings relative to shorter hospital stays will emerge.

In the meantime, we feel that some aspect of the “latest and greatest” is compelling robotic surgery, and hope that good sense will prevail as data call into question robot use.

Other topics this week include metabolic syndrome and Parkinson’s disease in PLOS Medicine, the global burden of alcohol use in The Lancet, and the cardiovascular impact of lorcaserin in NEJM.

Until next week, y’all listen up and make healthy choices.