To a man with a new hammer….marketing claims of robotic “firsts” piling up

Health care marketing of robotic surgery systems knows no bounds.  At the end of this piece, you can see a list of past posts on this marketing trend.

Besides the explosive use in prostate surgery, we’ve seen promotions of robotic “firsts” for:

  • first robotic cholecystectomy
  • first TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS) to treat sleep apnea
  • first hybrid revascularization, which combines the robotic single-vessel small thoracotomy procedure with angioplasty

You name the body part, there’s somebody looking to do robotic surgery on it.  Remember the old saying, “To a man with a new hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Do the big health care players feel they need to play the marketing/publicity game as well?

Johns Hopkins Medicine today sent out this news release:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the release is this special offer: “Patients who have undergone the robotic single-site procedure are eager to share the experience with the media.”

What does “among the first in the country” mean?

A brief web search for “robotic single-site hysterectomy” turned up many results, including claims by:

  • Decatur Memorial Hospital, Georgia
  • Baptist Hospital, Pensacola, FL
  • Saddleback MemorialMedicalCenter, Laguna Hills, CA
  • Las Palmas Medical Center, El Paso, TX
  • Texas Institute for Robotic Surgery, Austin, TX
  • Silver Cross Hospital, New Lenox, IL
  • Doyleston Hospital, Doylestown, PA

But beyond how you define “among the first,” I wonder what does being among the first really mean to patients?

  • They may want to ask themselves if they WANT to be one of the first to be operated by a certain surgeon in a certain setting?
  • They might wonder what the learning curve is for robotic single-site hysterectomy.  In other words, how many cases does it take for a surgeon to become proficient?

As promised earlier,  here are some of our past posts on hospitals marketing their robotic surgery systems:

Excerpt: “Aggressive direct-to-consumer marketing of the latest medical technologies may mislead the public into believing that they are the best choice. Our patients deserve and need factual information about all of their treatment options, including costs, so that they can make truly informed health care decisions. Patients should be advised that robotic hysterectomy is best used for unusual and complex clinical conditions in which improved outcomes over standard minimally invasive approaches have been demonstrated.”

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