Costs of robot-assisted keyhole surgery

The costs of introducing robot-assisted keyhole surgery could be significant.

A health technology assessment of robot-assisted keyhole surgery has concluded that while the benefits to patients in certain surgical procedures are evident, the cost of its introduction would be significant.  Published by the Health Information and Quality Authority, the Health Technology Assessment of robot-assisted surgery in selected surgical procedures examined the evidence of the effectiveness, safety, costs and budget impact of robot-assisted surgery for a number of procedures.

Robot-assisted surgery is an advanced method of keyhole surgery, which is also known as minimally invasive surgery or laparoscopic surgery. It involves the use of an advanced surgical tool to perform minimally invasive surgery for certain procedures. Unlike traditional open surgery, which requires a long incision through the skin, tissue or muscle of the patient, minimally invasive procedures are done using a small number of short incisions.

The incremental budget impact over five years for introducing a single robot in the publicly funded system is predicted at €3.1 million to €4.5 million for prostate surgery and for hysterectomy procedures, respectively.

The incremental budget impact over five years for introducing a single robot in the publicly funded system is predicted at €3.1 million to €4.5 million for prostate surgery and for hysterectomy procedures, respectively.  “A decision to invest further in a programme of robot-assisted surgery in Ireland will have a significant incremental cost per procedure and a significant budget impact. These costs must be taken into account by the decision maker,” said Martin Flattery, Head of HTA Research and Planning at HIQA.  “Healthcare budgets are finite and the allocation of resources to this technology may conflict with other values or priorities of decision making, such as the need to benefit the wider community.”

In January 2011, HIQA agreed to undertake the HTA of robot-assisted surgery in response to a request from the HSE. The purpose was to evaluate the available evidence on the safety and efficacy of robot-assisted surgery for selected indications and consider the costs and cost-effectiveness of a policy of implementing it, prior to a decision being taken on the adoption of such technology by the HSE

The report has been submitted to the HSE and the Minister for Health for their consideration. For a full copy of the report please go to www.hiqa.ie.