Robotic and open radical prostatectomy in the public health sector: cost comparison

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During 2008, the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital became the first public hospital in Australia to have a da Vinci Surgical Robot purchased by government funding. The cost of performing robotic surgery in the public sector is a contentious issue. This study is a single centre, cost analysis comparing open radical prostatectomy (RRP) and robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy (RALP) based on the newly introduced pure case-mix funding model.


A retrospective chart review was performed for the first 100 RALPs and the previous 100 RRPs. Estimates of tangible costing and funding were generated for each admission and readmission, using the Royal Brisbane Hospital Transition II database, based on pure case-mix funding.


The average cost for admission for RRP was A$13 605, compared to A$17 582 for the RALP. The average funding received for a RRP was A$11 781 compared to A$5496 for a RALP based on the newly introduced case-mix model.


The average length of stay for RRP was 4.4 days (2–14) and for RALP, 1.2 days (1–4). The total cost of readmissions for RRP patients was A$70 487, compared to that of the RALP patients, A$7160. These were funded at A$55 639 and A$7624, respectively.


RALP has shown a significant advantage with respect to length of stay and readmission rate. Based on the case-mix funding model RALP is poorly funded compared to its open equivalent. Queensland Health needs to plan on how robotic surgery is implemented and assess whether this technology is truly affordable in the public sector.

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