Outsourcing robotic-assisted operations to private hospitals: Cost analysis of a retrospective cohort

Edward Young, Ravi Vissapragada, Norma B. Bulamu, Devinder Philip Raju, Christopher Richard McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The Lyell McEwin Hospital entered into a public–private collaborative agreement in 2019 in order to access Da Vinci® Xi Surgical Systems (Intuitive Surgical, Sunnyvale, CA, USA) in private hospitals. This study aimed to examine the costs associated with usage of robot surgical systems under the agreement, and the potential for acquisition in the public hospital. Methods: Retrospective data on robotic-assisted and equivalent operations performed between 1 May 2019 and 30 April 2020 were collected and formed subsequent model inputs. Cost data were from hospital records and the local Da Vinci® Xi distributor. Clinical workflow of operations was simulated with a decision-analytic model, with output being costs incurred. The model's base case scenario assumed 5% of cases were robotically assisted. Results: A total of 35 robotic-assisted, 101 laparoscopic and 34 open operations were performed. Patients were predominantly male and overweight with multiple comorbidities. Length of stay and duration of operation were associated with increased costs (p < 0.001, r2 0.72). In the base case scenario, there was a cost of AU$26 424 per patient, with an open conversion rate of 11%. Increasing robotic-assisted case percentage resulted in reduced cost, open conversion rates and length of stay. Extrapolation of cost model data indicated if 50% were robotic-assisted cases, then the initial capital investment (assumed at AU$4 000 000) could be recovered in 10 years. Conclusion: Our model highlights potential advantages of performing greater numbers of robotic-assisted operations in a collaborative environment. Cost-effective analysis with prospective data could evaluate if these results are translatable and potentially support acquisition of robotic systems in the public sector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2352-2359
Number of pages8
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number11
Early online date12 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • colorectal surgery
  • cost analysis
  • robotic surgical procedures
  • urology


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