The Adoption of Surgical Innovations at Academic Versus Nonacademic Health Centers

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The value of the health care services provided by academic health centers (AHCs) in the United States increasingly is being questioned. AHCs play a prominent role in developing new surgical innovations, including new minimally invasive techniques, which are costly up front but can lead to significant benefits like decreased morbidity and lengths of stays. This study explored the role of AHCs in the adoption of these surgical innovations as a novel measure of their value.


The authors combined data from the American Hospital Association and the State Inpatient Databases from California, Florida, Washington State, and New York. They compared the number and percentage of patients who received four new, innovative surgical procedures (vs. those who received the traditional procedures) at Council of Teaching Hospitals (COTH) hospitals to those at non-COTH hospitals from 2009 to 2011.


Overall, 61.1% (27,175) of the procedures performed at COTH hospitals used new techniques, compared with 47.2% (41,680) at non-COTH hospitals, across all years (P < .0001). The number and percentage of procedures using the new techniques increased in all years and for all procedures.


Not only do AHCs play a role in developing surgical innovations but they also adopt these new techniques more quickly than other hospitals, and thereby they provide additional benefits to patients. These findings provide an important and understudied perspective on the value of AHCs.

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