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Unsure about the ROI of an orthopedic surgical robot? Consider these two factors.

November 16, 2017

    If you've faced deciding whether or not to invest in an orthopedic robotics system, you're not alone. Hundreds of orthopedics programs in the United States are currently using the technology—a number that continues to grow.

    Though robotic-assisted surgery is becoming increasingly common, the business case for these investments requires careful scrutiny. Like many emerging technologies, orthopedic robotic systems are costly to acquire, and most payers don't reimburse at higher rates for robotic-assisted joint replacement surgery.

    Given these two challenges, it's important to explore all opportunities to capture ROI on robotic-assisted surgery—and how to quantify that. Read on to learn more about two important considerations for determining whether this is the right investment for your orthopedics program.

    1. Increased physician alignment

    One of the main reasons orthopedic programs choose to invest in robotic technology is to address physician preferences for performing robotic-assisted joint replacement surgery. Importantly, orthopedic residency programs are starting to include more training on surgical robotic systems; this means that more of your physicians will be familiar with this technology, and likely prefer it, over time. Organizations should anticipate this shift and capitalize on increased physician interest in surgical robots to aid their physician retention and recruitment efforts.

    Meeting physician preferences can strengthen referring provider relationships and, potentially, volume growth. To measure this future physician-driven ROI, focus on tracking the number of additional procedures surgeons perform at your program. Useful metrics include additional volumes captured from existing and newly recruited physicians, as well as incremental market share compared to that of your competitors.

    2. Marketplace differentiation

    Along with increasing physician-driven volumes, robotic-assisted joint replacement surgery can generate patient self-referrals. A growing number of orthopedic patients self-refer for elective treatments and often evaluate providers based on perceived quality. Many of these patients view the availability of new technologies as an indicator of quality, which can influence the provider they choose. Attracting these patients is especially important in crowded markets, where differentiating services is a must.

    Is it right for your organization?

    Acquiring an orthopedic robotics system involves financial risk. The key to making a well-informed investment decision is to consider all value-drivers for that investment, including physician interest and market demand, prior to purchase. Determining physician willingness to shift practice patterns and assessing competitor activity are effective ways to evaluate your orthopedic surgical robot's ROI and minimize financial risk.

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