The following guest blog post was written by Camran Nezhat, M.D. of Stanford University Medical Center. We are honored to have Dr. Nezhat speak at our upcoming product launch party during the AAGL conference in Las Vegas on November 6, 2012. If you’d like to attend this very special event, please RSVP here.
By Camran Nezhat, M.D.
Stanford University Medical Center
Difficult demands from insurance companies that place barriers to patients’ access to quality care make it seem like the patient is no longer the most important part of health care. These companies make business decisions for financial profit, while physicians who are experts in what is best for a patient struggle to advocate for quality care and improved health overall. Insurance companies often limit patient care when they are unable to cover costs for what a patient needs, sometimes resulting in long-term health consequences for the patient. Such a policy can also limit innovation and make it a secondary consideration, as some may view new technology and techniques to improve patient care as unnecessary and costly. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as new and reliable technology and sufficient training in new methods enable patients to benefit from long-term health from quality treatment, rather than suffering from supposedly “sufficient” treatment for the rest of their lives.
Although insuring patient care is costly, physicians have a duty to deliver the best possible care to every patient. I have always believed in taking care of my patients and delivering the highest quality care. In helping patients heal I ask myself, “What is the best result for this patient, and how can I reach that goal in a way that is most efficient and which has the most lasting effect?” Procedures using video-assisted endoscopy and modern surgical tools performed by highly trained surgeons, for example, insure the lowest possible risk surgery and the best long-term post-operative health. This also means a lower long-term cost in post-operative care. For the sake of all patients and for lowering the cost of integral patient care, we must prioritize quality over quick fixes.
In searching for what is best for the patient in light of the recent Supreme Court decision, we must continue to focus on high-quality technology and services that are both novel and efficient. Technology is a solution in health care, both for patient health and for driving down overall future care costs for patients receiving quality care. The current priority of saving money can, at times, prevent quality care from being implemented and decreases patient welfare. In ensuring that patients get the care they really need, what is most important is to ask patients what they are looking for. Government participation in health care prioritizes costs, but the most important thing a patient wants is quality care. Indeed, the way most informed patients judge “quality care” is through outcomes, which are usually achieved using the best technology to ensuring an efficient, lasting result. This is why we must take measures to invest in technology and reliable equipment that can be utilized for a long time and which can be provided for many patients.
In my search for the best quality I am absolutely committed to minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgery. Better, longer-lasting results have been proven with this technology, but such a complex surgical method requires specialized training to reduce the potential for error. To ensure long-term health in patients, it is essential to train surgeons with up-to-date simulation technology that independently validates the method and quality of the procedure. I must emphasize the bigger picture when describing the importance of minimally invasive and laparoscopic surgeries: there is no substitute for such training in terms of overall patient recovery and for minimizing post-operative risks and adverse consequences for patients.
In our lab in Palo Alto, we are currently investigating the best method of simulation training. We have chosen Mimic’s technology as a part of the study because it is independently validated by academic medical centers throughout the country. We are working to determine the best, least-invasive ways of surgically removing uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and other causes of infertility and pelvic pain. We are avoiding the more traditional open surgery, in which a large incision is made through the abdominal wall to gain access to the intra-abdominal organs. I have written and presented on the fact that the best quality care for women lies in procedures that helps preserve the vital organs with a technique that is much less invasive. Training surgeons with the most up-to-date technology prevents complications during surgery and relieves patients of having to undergo more complicated procedures in the future to repair problems from previous surgeries. Our study is important in demonstrating how simulators enable surgeons to become proficient in a much shorter time.
Having well-trained surgeons who can perform minimally invasive techniques is preferable to using the traditional open-incision technique because there is less blood loss, shorter hospital stays, and fewer post-operative complications; each of these factors in minimally invasive surgery means better results. In other words — quality care. Although the initial cost seems high, this is obviously worth paying if it means preserving a patient’s health, and minimizes future costs for a patient in worse condition who wasn’t able undergo a minimally invasive surgery.