Joel Weissman, deputy director and chief scientific officer at the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women's Hospital and co-author of the editorial, said the robotic machine costs about $1.5 million and requires extra personnel.
"It's a little bit unclear who's paying the extra cost," he said. "It seems like at this point in time, insurers are paying the same whether the surgery is robotically assisted or not. But hospitals have to somehow pay those extra costs."
If you're considering a robotically assisted procedure, Zinner and Weissman advised talking with your doctor about which procedure will deliver better results. If two procedures are similarly effective, they suggested comparing costs.
In the case of hysterectomy, because robotically assisted surgery and laparoscopic surgery have similar results but significantly different costs, Zinner said he'd like to see more surgeons training in the laparoscopic procedure.
Learn more about robotically assisted surgery from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Jason Wright, M.D., Levine Family Assistant Professor of Women's Health, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City; Joel Weissman, Ph.D., deputy director and chief scientific officer, Center for Surgery and Public Health, and associate professor of health policy, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston; Michael Zinner, M.D., chief of surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and clinical director, Dana Farber-Brigham and Women's Cancer Center, Boston; Feb. 20, 2013, Journal of the American Medical Association
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