The popularity of robotic surgery has surged in recent years, largely because of heavy advertising by the manufacturers and hospitals, promoting the technology as a way to reduce complications and speed recovery.
"The marketing is not based on any data," Dr. Peter Dunn, director of perioperative services at Massachusetts General Hospital, told The Globe. "This tool was brought to us [by the manufacturer] solely as a marketing device. The medical community didn't do what it should have done—say, 'Wait a minute, hold on.'"
Several Massachusetts hospitals that have advertised robotic procedures, including Brigham and Women's, St. Luke's, and Beth Israel Deaconess, said they are reviewing their marketing activities.
And, based on reports of adverse events related to the da Vinci robotic surgery system, the FDA has launched a survey to assess the hardware based on physicians' opinions.
Hospitals need to be innovators and risk-takers in order to move healthcare forward, but the primary motivation must be to enhance patient care. It's when organizations make high-cost decisions chasing better reimbursements and increased service line volumes that priorities get muddled.
It's up to marketing leader to be a strong voice advocating for the former.