“Traditional heart surgery has always been a mixed blessing,” Murphy says. “Sure, it’s life-saving, but it takes you two or three months to recover. The heart recovers in a couple of hours. But the body takes much longer. With robotic surgery, the patient is out of the hospital in less than half the time and recovered in three weeks. I’m talking back to playing golf or tennis.”
Why isn’t robotic cardiac surgery already the treatment of choice? Murphy estimates that it takes 100 cases to learn to perform it efficiently, and there’s no immediate financial incentive to do that since the reimbursement is the same. That means few surgeons — let alone other members of the surgical team — can afford to travel and observe an expert in action.
Yet another example that makes you scratch your head. This guy can fix my heart valve through a few small stab wounds and have me on the tennis court in a month. Traditional surgery, which involves cutting open the sternum and exposing the heart, leaves me with the chance of returning to tennis in 6 mos, if at all. Hmmm… not a tough choice. Social media has the potential to improve the adoption of technologies in medicine by increasing patient awareness— they will in turn seek out the appropriate expert who is skilled in the newer, less invasive, proven techniques. Physicians worry about the loss of income associated with the learning curve of adopting new technology. That won’t matter in the *social* world… the patients will find another surgeon.