Now the surgeons can sit in the operating room a few feet away from the patient and make moments and ensure that the surgical tool is wielded confidently, efficiently, never shaking or deterring from the path it is supposed to take, as the procedure continues on video. These movements are generated through video console. It is the robot and its surgical arm that does the actual cutting and remains oblivious to any potential mistakes that would otherwise run through a human mind. It is the da Vinci Surgical System, manufactured by Intuitive Surgical, Sunnyvale, Calif., essentially the only such robotic arm on the market. This product has been in market for the past decade and has been installed in more than 850 hospitals. But despite claims by many doctors that the robot makes minimally invasive surgeries easier to perform, providers aren’t clamoring to use them.
Some reluctance is on the part of the surgeons who are unsure of the utilization of the machine for the surgeries when they can use their own hands. St. Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta is stepping in to help smooth out what might be considered a daunting learning curve for some. The 410-bed hospital launched the International College of Robotic Surgery earlier this year as part of its effort to meet a demand for training. While Intuitive has previously established centers, typically done in partnership with various hospitals, including St. Joseph’s, to train physicians on the surgical system, St. Joseph’s college wants to take that basic training to the next level. Starting with cardiac surgery, the college plans to include types other procedures as well. It hopes to train surgical teams on advanced, minimally invasive robotic techniques using customized education modules based on various levels of expertise and need. The curriculum includes Internet course work, quizzes and cases to complete in order to ‘graduate.’ Interactive, online and remote guidance to teams, from around the world, is being offered by the college. Medical teams are invited to travel to Atlanta and attend sessions in person as well. St. Joseph’s experts also will visit a team’s site to provide follow-up support and training. On an estimate, $4,000 for online courses up to $100,000 for the full, one-year curriculum, is the price range for the course, based on how many people are in the surgical team, whether they want to visit in person or take virtual lessons.