During Barack Obama’s healthcare reform tour, while touting cheaper clinical and technological approaches for medicine, the President got a hands-on experience with the Da Vinci robotic surgical system from Intuitive Surgical. The Cleveland Clinic, perhaps having an odd sense of humor, touted to the President one of the most expensive pieces of equipment used in the OR. We are all for new technology, but opinions about costs and benefits of robotic surgical systems are far from uniform.
Here’s what Paul Levy, President and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, wrote on his blog:
Many months ago, I wrote about the da Vinci Robot Surgical System and expressed doubts about whether there was evidence to support the clinical efficacy of this equipment, as opposed to the marketing efficacy of the company selling it. Well, the time has come to graciously say, “Uncle!”
Without making any representations about the relative clinical value of this robotic system versus manual laparoscopic surgery, I am writing to let you know we have decided to buy one for our hospital. Why? Well, in simple terms, because virtually all the academic medical centers and many community hospitals in the Boston area have bought one. Patients who are otherwise loyal to our hospital and our doctors are transferring their surgical treatments to other places. Prospective residents who are trying to decide where to have their surgical training look upon our lack of the robot as a deficit in our education program. Prospective physician recruits feel likewise. And, these factors are now spreading beyond urology into the field of gynecological surgery. So as a matter of good business planning, concern for the quality of our training program, and to continue to attract and retain the best possible doctors, the decision was made for us.
So there you have it. As the company’s latest device, the da Vinci Si HD Surgical System, comes with a $1.75 million price tag, it is not clear whether the healthcare reform plan would consider alternative, more traditional laparoscopic devices, as a saving option to the modern, advanced technology found in the Da Vinci.
Link: White House Blog……
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