How robots boosted volume, expanded patient populations at 2 orthopedic groups

Carly Behm -  

Stryker's Mako robot costs about $1 million, but the payoffs for two centers that acquired it are priceless.

Olympia (Wash.) Orthopaedic Associates and Lewis & Clark Outpatient Surgery in Lewiston, Idaho, both added the robot for total joint procedures in 2020. Leaders at both centers told Becker's Spine Review about their decision to add it and how it has affected operations.

Note: Responses were lightly edited for style.

Brianne Bender, RN. Director of Surgery at Lewis & Clark Outpatient Surgery: When we started our joints program, one reason was to provide our rural communities the efficiencies and cost savings that an ASC can provide for total joints. Once our program got up and running, we felt that there was a population of patients that we weren’t capturing due to not having a robot. Our surgery center currently has three surgeons that use our robot for hips, knees and unicompartmental knee replacements. We have already seen a large jump in the number of patients we are doing. So much so, that it is affecting the other pieces of our program including home health and physical therapy.

Ben Shah, CEO. Olympia Orthopaedic Associates: We looked at the financial pros and cons and felt that while it would increase our cost per case, the number of cases we could bring to our surgery center would increase our overall margin. We had a new fellowship-trained total joint surgeon who was a big proponent of the technology. After working through the numbers, we felt it was a reasonable step to bring this technology to our surgery center and our community. We worked aggressively with the vendor to get the pricing where we needed it to be to make it all work out.

We have seen a sharp increase in volumes at the surgery center as our total joint provider can now do robotic cases at our facility instead of relying on the hospitals. We hope to review if we have seen an overall increase in volumes soon. For now, it’s allowed us to shift cases more than grow cases.

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