Why spine robots remain a financial hurdle for ASCs


Spine and orthopedic robots are a useful tool for surgeons but they come with a high price tag for ASCs.

Frank Phillips, MD, of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, discussed the challenges spine robots pose for ASCs compared to orthopedic robots.

Note: This response was lightly edited for clarity.

Question: How should ASCs weigh the decision to buy a spine robot?

Dr. Frank Phillips: Robots remain extremely expensive making it challenging for these to be purchased by ASCs, which are far more cost-conscious venues than hospitals. Unlike joint replacements where extremely high numbers of cases are performed in an ASC (often over 1,000 cases per year) potentially making robots cost efficient, the much lower volumes of spinal fusion surgeries in ASCs make these purchases cost prohibitive. Enabling technologies will need to find their way to the ASCs as more complex spinal surgeries migrate there, but these will likely need to involve less capital-intensive technologies including augmented reality or simpler, less expensive ASC-friendly robots.

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