A hospital in Dubai will bear a portion of the costs for any patient requiring robotic surgery despite it not being covered under local insurance policies, its managing director has said.
Last month Al Zahra Hospital Dubai announced that it became the first hospital to introduce the CMR Surgical Versius Robotic System - the next-generation surgical robot - in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Sheikh Majid Bin Faisal Al Qassimi, who has been the MD of the Dubai-based hospital for eight years, told Al Arabiya English that currently health insurance policies in the emirate do not have coverage for robotic surgery specifically. It only covers surgical procedures done in the conventional way, he said.
However, the hospital has promised to cover parts of the costs of robotic surgery – which is used in keyhole or minimally invasive surgery – to those patients who require it.
The surgical robot is used in surgical subspecialties, including colorectal, gynecologic, and urologic surgeries; areas with remote or recessed locations.
“There is no added coverage or financial benefit given to the hospital by the insurers,” said Sheikh Majid. “The patients will also not bear the cost. AL Zahra Hospital will offer this novel surgical technology at the same cost as conventional procedures which are normally covered by insurance companies,” he explained.
“The added cost as result of this novel technology will be bared by the healthcare facility,” he added.
Cambridge-based medical device company CMR Surgical also known as MedTech debuted its Versius Robotic Solution as an advanced version of conventional robotic systems. The product was designed with ergonomics in mind to help reduce stress and fatigue for surgeons while enhancing patient outcomes and improving recovery times.
Helping surgeons with laparoscopic procedures, its use is associated with a wide range of patient benefits. Many operations are highly complex and when performed manually, and without the assistance of robotics the risk of compromising quality grows.
The system contains instinctive instruments, vision controls, and an open console design allowing surgeons to sit upright or stand, keeping them comfortable for longer each day.
Sheikh Majid said the surgical robot varies in price, based on the different functions required, but as the system is modular and scalable it can reach $4 million with full functionality, he said, adding that the hospital views the purchase as a long-term investment.
“Directly it is not about the extra money that will be charged for the procedures but rather in the cost saving measures achieved as the result of the robotic surgical system” he revealed.
In the sense of doing the procedure faster, more precise and accurate with less complications and faster discharge from the hospital and the Operation Theater it leads to more surgical procedures being done, he said.
This then offers the hospital a higher turnover of beds and operating rooms, smaller incisions and faster recovery for patients, with less consumables and medication being used.
“With the new DRG system launched by the regulator in Dubai, cost of complications and longer hospital stays has to be absorbed by the hospital and not the insurer. Therefore, having such a system in place will benefit the hospital greatly from a cost saving perspective,” he explained.
Added bonuses from having the robot system in place include the ability to attract talented surgeons from all over the world, along with patients with complex surgeries that are looking for the latest surgical solutions in the region, but who do not want to travel to Western countries to receive medical treatments, Sheikh Majid said.