JOURNAL ARTICLE

Robot-assisted surgery: the future is here

Diana Gerhardus
Journal of Healthcare Management / American College of Healthcare Executives 2003, 48 (4): 242-51
12908224
According to L. Wiley Nifong, director of robotic surgery at East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine, "Nationally, only one-fourth of the 15 million surgeries performed each year are done with small incisions or what doctors call 'minimally invasive surgery'." Robots could raise that number substantially (Stark 2002). Currently, healthcare organizations use robot technology for thoracic, abdominal, pelvic, and neurological surgical procedures. Minimally invasive surgery reduces the amount of inpatient hospital days, and the computer in the system filters any hand tremors a physician may have during the surgery. The use of robot-assisted surgery improves quality of care because the patient experiences less pain after the surgery. Robot-assisted surgery demonstrates definite advantages for the patient, physician, and hospital; however, healthcare organizations in the United States have yet to acquire the technology because of implementation costs and the lack of FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval for using the technology for certain types of heart procedures. This article focuses on robot-assisted surgery advantages to patients, physicians, and hospitals as well as on the disadvantages to physicians. In addition, the article addresses implementation costs, which creates financial hurdles for most healthcare organizations; offers recommendations for administrators to embrace this technology for strategic positioning; and enumerates possible roles for robots in medicine.

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