Background and Purpose: Our present understanding of the effect of robotic surgery and surgical volume on the cost of radical prostatectomy (RP) is limited. Given the increasing pressures placed on healthcare resource utilization, such determinations of healthcare value are becoming increasingly important. Therefore, we performed a study to define the effect of robotic technology and surgical volume on the cost of RP. Methods: The state of Maryland mandates that all acute-care hospitals report encounter-level and hospital discharge data to the Health Service Cost Review Commission (HSCRC). The HSCRC was queried for men undergoing RP between 2008 and 2011 (the period during which robot-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy [RALRP] was coded separately). High-volume hospitals were defined as >60 cases per year, and high-volume surgeons were defined as >40 cases per year. Multivariate regression analysis was performed to evaluate whether robotic technique and high surgical volume impacted the cost of RP. Results: There were 1499 patients who underwent RALRP and 2565 who underwent radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP) during the study period. The total cost for RALRP was higher than for RRP ($14,000 vs 10,100; P<0.001) based primarily on operating room charges and supply charges. Multivariate regression demonstrated that RALRP was associated with a significantly higher cost (β coeff 4.1; P<0.001), even within high-volume hospitals (β coeff 3.3; P<0.001). High-volume surgeons and high-volume hospitals, however, were associated with a significantly lower cost for RP overall. High surgeon volume was associated with lower cost for RALRP and RRP, while high institutional volume was associated with lower cost for RALRP only. Conclusions: High surgical volume was associated with lower cost of RP. Even at high surgical volume, however, the cost of RALRP still exceeded that of RRP. As robotic surgery has come to dominate the healthcare marketplace, strategies to increase the role of high-volume providers may be needed to improve the cost-effectiveness of prostate cancer surgical therapy.
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