Healthcare News & Insights

Robotic surgical system offers major benefits to patients, doctors and hospitals

Why would a hospital let anyone who walked through its doors touch its brand new multimillion dollar robotic surgical system? Actually, there are quite a few reasons. But mainly, it’s a great public relations tactic. It allows the public to see how easy the robot is to operate, familiarizes them with the numerous procedures the robot can perform, and educates them on all the benefits of robotic surgery.

And that’s exactly what Saint Mary’s Hospital did. It set up its newest robotic surgical system in its lobby, and allowed the public to test it out.

For two hours, anyone who wanted to give it a whirl — from the public to staff members — got to sit at the control console with their eyes pressed against the machine’s viewfinder, and play with Saint Mary’s $2 million da Vinci SI Robotic Surgical System.

Users got to manipulate the robotic arms to try to pick up a penny off a small plastic dish. And to their surprise, most of the testers had little trouble doing it.

Big expense, big payoff

St. Mary’s already had one robotic surgical system, and while purchasing another was a big expense, it will allow them to significantly increase the number of procedures they do using the robot.

Previously, the robotic system was used primarily for gynecological procedure, such as hysterectomies. But now more than 140 procedures in 10 different specialties can be performed using the robotic surgical system, including gallbladder removal.

Plus, now that the hospital has 24 surgeons (10 thoracic surgeons, nine gynecological surgeons, three urologists and two general surgeons) certified to perform robotic-assisted surgeries, the number of procedures is sure to skyrocket.

That’s even more likely after the public gets wind of the fact that robotic surgical procedures are minimally invasive, requiring four small slits in the patient. This cuts down on the risk of infection, pain, scarring and reduces the recovery time. These benefit the hospital too, because fewer infection, small incisions and less pain, mean patients don’t need to stay in the hospital or have much shorter hospital stays than normal surgeries.

So while shelling out $2 million for a robotic surgical unit may seem like a big expense, it more than pays for itself with the increased number of surgeries performed and the reduced hospitalizations.

Not to mention the fact that Saint Mary’s has also become a training site for robot-assisted procedures for surgeons and surgical nurses.

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