A massive study funded by Intuitive Surgical (NSDQ:ISRG) found that its flagship da Vinci surgical robot delivered a benefit-to-cost ratio of more than 5 to 1 when used to treat kidney cancer.
Researchers looked at data from nearly 27,000 Medicare patients with kidney tumors, divided into cohorts with large (7cm) tumors and small (4cm) tumors. Based on 2010 data on the cost of buying and maintaining a da Vinci system over 5 years, they found that it cost about $113,000 a year. But using the system to perform partial nephrectomies delivered a net benefit of $656,000, according to the study, yielding $543,000 per year in benefits for kidney cancer patients beyond the system’s costs.
"The value of robot-assisted surgery accrues over a long time, whereas the costs are up front. This implies that short-term analyses could mistakenly conclude that the costs of the technology outweigh its benefits," according to the study, published in the February issue of Health Affairs.
"We found that the availability of robot-assisted surgery increased the rate of partial nephrectomy in [a Medicare hospital referral region] by 52%. Moreover, we found no evidence that patients who received partial nephrectomy in HRRs that had adopted the robot were less appropriate than patients who received the procedure in nonadopting HRRs," the researchers wrote.
"Partial nephrectomy, or kidney-sparing surgery, is considered the standard of care for clinically appropriate patients as a means to slow the progression of renal failure and reduce the risk of dialysis," Intuitive Surgical’s chief medical officer, Dr. Myriam Curet, said in prepared remarks. "The PHE study demonstrates that those hospitals offering minimally invasive partial nephrectomies utilizing a da Vinci surgical system delivered both improved patient outcomes and considerable long-term economic benefits."