Background: Despite many publications reporting on the increased hospital cost of robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) compared to direct manual laparoscopic surgery (DMLS) and open surgery (OS), the reported health economic studies lack details on clinical outcome, precluding valid health technology assessment (HTA).
Methods: The present prospective study reports total cost analysis on 699 patients undergoing general surgical, gynecological and thoracic operations between 2011 and 2014 in the Italian Public Health Service, during which period eight major teaching hospitals treated the patients. The study compared total healthcare costs of RAS, DMLS and OS based on prospectively collected data on patient outcome in addition to healthcare costs incurred by the three approaches.
Results: The cost of RAS operations was significantly higher than that of OS and DMLS for both gynecological and thoracic operations (p < 0.001). The study showed no significant difference in total costs between OS and DMLS. Total costs of general surgery RAS were significantly higher than those of OS (p < 0.001), but not against DMLS general surgery. Indirect costs were significantly lower in RAS compared to both DMLS general surgery and OS gynecological surgery due to the shorter length of hospital stay of RAS approach (p < 0.001). Additionally, in all specialties compared to OS, patients treated by RAS experienced a quicker recovery and significantly less pain during the hospitalization and after discharge.
Conclusions: The present HTA while confirming higher total healthcare costs for RAS operations identified significant clinical benefits which may justify the increased expenditure incurred by this approach.
- Health technology assessment
- Robotic surgery
- da Vinci
- Economic evaluation in health care
- Economics of innovation