Robotic surgery is a loaded term. Just reading the words can bring Hollywood-inspired images of fully autonomous robot doctors to mind. But that’s not what’s happening in the industry today. The “robots” are merely tools used by doctors, just like a stethoscope or a scalpel. And they have some interesting use cases and value propositions to health systems. For example, they can act as a great equalizer by helping young surgeons perform subtle movements that would otherwise take them years to perfect. But there’s a flip side. Studies like this one from Stanford question the value of robotic tools that yield similar results and raise costs. There’s truth to that, but as always, there’s nuance and the headlines don’t always mean what suggest. Imagine that.

On this episode, Shahid Shah and I are joined by Dr. Roger Smith, Chief Technology Officer for Florida Hospital’s Nicholson Center for Surgical Advancement. Dr. Smith took a break from profiling surgical robots in his Robot Of The Day series to help us better understand how robotics are impacting surgery.

This is one of the more fascinating conversations we’ve had on the show, and it takes us out of our comfort zone. I hope you enjoy it!

Robotic Surgery: Business Cases, Benefits and Myths

2:25 What is robotic surgery? What can it do and what can’t it do?

4:40 Why are so many people afraid of this? Are hospitals not explaining this properly or are patients justified in being afraid?

7:00 What does the evidence say about robotic surgery outcomes? What’s the advantage that robots bring to surgical procedures? It’s all about the rate of improvement.

11:18 A brief history of robotic surgery and the need for updated terminology that segments the variety of robotic devices.

16:16 Assisted procedures vs autonomous robotics.

19:00 What happens to the patient when a robot malfunctions?

22:17 As we look forward to new robots, does the FDA effectively regulate the industry? Are there things the FDA is missing? Surgeons and device makers have different opinions.

27:57 Check out the Software As a Medical Device (SAMD) pre-certification process. The FDA is asking the robotics industry how they would like to be regulated! Submit your answers! Take this opportunity to help them ease your burden.

31:27 What is creating demand on health purchaser side? The 3 big benefits for hospitals

37:20 Cost is a hurdle to adoption. Without robot surgery CPT codes, hospitals get reimbursed the same with or without robots.

41:23 What other benefits do hospitals receive?

45:50 Which surgeries don’t need robots?

48:50 Where are the opportunities for innovation in robotic surgery? Who are the big players in robotic surgery?

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About Dr. Roger Smith

Dr. Roger Smith is the Chief Technology Officer for Florida Hospital’s Nicholson Center for Surgical Advancement. He was previously the CTO for U.S. Army Simulation, Training and Instrumentation and a Research Scientist at Texas A&M University. He is also Graduate Faculty at University of Central Florida and President of Simulation First where he provides keynote event presentations and scientific lectures.

Roger Smith Linkedin

Robot Of The Day on LinkedIn


About The Nicholson Center

For over a decade, the Florida Hospital Nicholson Center has trained more than 50,000 physicians from around the globe on leading-edge clinical and surgical techniques. Utilizing state-of-the-art surgical suites, and labs, plus advanced medical simulation robotics and learning centers, medical professionals can acquire and advance their skills in a highly collaborative surgical learning environment. Take advantage of the technology-enhanced operating techniques that are becoming the mainstay of tomorrow’s healthcare by training with the Florida Hospital Nicholson Center. We are one of the largest and most experienced medical learning and simulation incubation centers of its kind in the country dedicated to advancing next-generation clinical knowledge. Year after year, our hands-on training techniques have proven to provide key skills needed to advance your medical development and grow your practice.

Florida Hospital Institute for Surgical Advancement

The Nicholson Center White Papers


Related and/or Mentioned on the Show

Useful website by a heroic anonymous surgeon http://surgrob.blogspot.com/

Da Vinci by Intuitive – when most people think about robotic surgery, according to today’s guest, this is the one they’re thinking of.

New Studies Look At Cost And Benefits Of Robotic Surgery – University of Stanford researchers conducted a multiyear analysis and study with 24,000 patients with kidney cancer who needed laparoscopic surgery to remove a patient’s kidney indicated that the two approaches had comparable patient outcomes and hospital stays. Researchers analyzed data from 416 hospitals across the country from 2003 to 2015 for the study.


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