Robotics is the next step for spine, total joints: 3 administrators weigh in


Robotics is picking up steam in spine and orthopedics, with emerging surgeons particularly drawn to the latest technologies in their specialties.

Nikki Williams, clinical director at Lakeland (Fla.) Surgical & Diagnostic Center; Brooke Day, administrator at Hastings (Neb.) Surgical Center; and Alfonso del Granado, administrator at Covenant High Plains Surgery Center in Lubbock, Texas, discussed investing in robotics and the future of complex spine procedures.

Below is an excerpt from that discussion. Click here to view the full panel on-demand as well as access other panels and interviews from the event.

Note: responses are lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: Five years ago, it was still rather revolutionary to have total joints and complex spine in ASCs; now it is more commonplace. What is the next step for these procedures?  

Mr. del Granado: For total joints, the next step is robotics. Unfortunately, it's expensive, but if you're going to attract surgeons — especially some of the younger surgeons who are pretty much in love with their robots and don't want to work without them — you have to make the investment. 

Ms. Williams: I've definitely seen the trend toward robotics. We're not doing total joints, but every [surgical or ASC] magazine you open, you see that people are doing these. I think if you're getting a lot of younger surgeons, they're going to want modern technology. I know that there is an expense, but I think you have to weigh it up, see what's best for you and see how you can accommodate the surgeons. It's creating a fine balance, but a lot of younger surgeons want the new technology and that's where we have to accommodate them.

Ms. Day: I wouldn't be surprised if you end up seeing facilities built specifically in larger markets to treat spine. We've discussed having an extended-stay suite. This is something that [our management company] invested a lot on their end into looking into how that pencils out. As far as reimbursement is concerned, that is yet to be determined. But I think anything that doesn't involve a hospital stay could decrease the overall cost of care. I also think, at least on my end in rural Nebraska, more and more physicians are wanting us to do cases that are patients with more of a complex health history. So, I just think we're going to see more and more of a push to do cases that are outside of our normal patient guidelines.

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