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Can Robots Replace General Surgeons?

Can Robots Replace General Surgeons?

There aren’t enough doctors, especially Surgeons. As the population continues to grow, so does the need for providers.

By 2050, that deficit will grow to 7,047 General Surgeons across the nation, which is almost 18% higher than originally anticipated. Are robots the answer? Or, will hospitals need to use multiple strategies to tackle the shortage?

No Doctors, No Surgeries

The deficit of Surgeons is not due to a lack of new doctors. In fact, resident positions and the number of residents in surgery programs are both up. Yet, hospitals still cannot keep up.

As more young providers come into the field, more patients are getting older. Over the next 30 years, the elderly population will increase by 135%. Family Practice News projects elderly patients will receive 50% of all surgeries.

Even with the influx of new talent, many hospitals and networks are unable to find physicians in this competitive field. As a result, staff Surgeons are overworked and more likely to experience burnout or make mistakes in care.

Robot Surgery

Many hospitals and their doctors are looking for modern ways to help combat the lack of full-time surgeons.

Robotic surgery systems like da Vinci and Versius are cutting down both surgery and healing time – freeing up doctors’ hands and hospital beds for other patients needing care.

Surgeons are also leaning towards more minimally invasive surgery techniques to help cut down on time spent per patient in the OR. However, improving patient turnover time requires practice. Doctors need to perform between 150-250 cases before operating time is reduced. Process innovation, like the pit-stop model, is also required to streamline operating room usage.

These surgeries cost 45-60 percent less than traditional surgeries in the same hospital settings due to shorter stays and lower out of pocket costs.

Alternative Solutions

Robots combined with experienced Surgeons can shorten operating time allowing more patients access to treatment. However, surgical innovation, like robots, cannot compensate for the growing shortage of Surgeons.

As demand for intensive healthcare and surgical procedures increases with the aging population, hospitals and care centers will need to change their plan of action.

Lack of full-time doctors means that short-stay and Locum Tenens programs will be more attractive to the providers and will cut overhead costs for the hospital.

Use of part-time physicians coupled with investment in advanced technology means that your healthcare center can better prepare for the ever-growing wave of patients while still providing excellent care.

Sources: British Journal of Anaesthesia, Family Practice News, Health Services Research, MDLinx, The Medical Futurists, Reuters, Surgery Center Network

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