The marketing department set a goal to have 250 people try each machine. The turnout and response to the display was tremendous. Around 500 visitors test drove the robots that day, and the hospital estimates the display attracted over 1,000 spectators. The mall says the robot display contributed to one of the busiest days it ever had. The display also generated a lot of local buzz, says Malech, in local online and print newspapers, at physicians' offices, and with the shoppers and retailers.
"The response the first time they showcased this equipment and the doctors was amazing," said Janet Cesario, the marketing and sponsorship director at The Mall at Short Hills. "I actually had calls from some of our customers telling me how impressed they were that we allowed a demonstration like this. They found it fascinating and loved being able to speak with the doctors."
LaSalle says the reaction to the event proved its importance.
The volume of surgeries performed by the 27 surgeons on the Saint Barnabas robotic surgery system increased 60% last year (2011–2012) from 250 to 400. Four hundred cases is the threshold one surgical robot system can handle in a year, according to LaSalle, because the robot is also used for training and instruction.
Based on the increasing demand, Saint Barnabas is planning to add another robot and expand its robotic surgery system into a multidisciplinary program for robotics.
The robotic display was coupled with advertisements in the local weekly papers regarding the display and the physicians involved. The event's information also ran in the hospital's e-newsletter, which is sent to about 15,000 people. The mall's email newsletter and website also featured the event. The summer 2012 issue of the hospital's magazine, Barnabas Today, which mailed to 100,000 households in late June, also featured robotic surgery and the mall display in an article about a professional opera singer's robotic prostate surgery and quick return to the stage.