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​​​​The Challenge

When Western Maryland Health System (WMHS) was considering initiating a robotic surgery program, Nancy Adams, MBA, RN, CNE, senior vice president and chief operating officer, knew that there were a number of challenges to consider—not only about the technology itself, but also the efficacy of the procedures, capital and ongoing costs, and training and credentialing staff.

Even though a robotic-surgery trained urologist at WMHS had been touting the benefits of the technology, Adams knew she needed to seek out guidance from an independent third party before the facility could move forward.

“When you’re talking about technology that’s as pricey as a robot, you want someone other than the salesperson telling you about it,” she says.

The Solution

After researching several consulting services, Adams chose ECRI Institute, an independent nonprofit organization. She was impressed with the organization’s deep experience in surgical robotics program consulting as well as their prompt response to her inquiry.

During the engagement, ECRI Institute’s robotic surgery experts reviewed WMHS’s surgical case volumes and conducted extensive onsite interviews with surgeons and administrators. They found that there was adequate interest among surgeons across multiple service lines (e.g. cardiothoracic, general surgery, gynecology, otolaryngology, urology) as well as administrative support that would justify the development of a robotic surgery program.

“I heard from all the surgeons how easy it was to participate in the interview; they really felt like they were being heard,” says Adams.

ECRI Institute also advised WMHS on best practices to ensure that surgical staff are properly trained and competent in robotic surgery to maximize patient safety and surgical outcomes. Stakeholders were also educated about the latest technological advances in surgical robotics and the impending robotic surgery competition.

The Results

Based on ECRI Institute’s recommendations, WMHS’s board unanimously elected to initiate a robotic surgery program.

According to Adams, ECRI Institute’s report was so comprehensive that when she presented the findings to the board, the robotic surgery program was “an immediate ‘go’.”

“It was so much more robust than I expected in terms of what it included: the necessary steps to get the program up and running; to exercise caution and be thoughtful in how we credential and train users; and the caveats advising us on the liabilities,” Adams says.

ECRI Institute’s unbiased recommendations and strict conflict-of-interest policies, rather than a sales pitch from a manufacturer, helped to ease Adams’ mind throughout the engagement.

“When you use an independent consultant that doesn’t have any skin in the game, you know the story’s true,” she says. “ECRI’s tagline—‘the discipline of science, the integrity of independence’—is what sells it all.”


Learn more about ECRI Institute's Robotic Surgery Planning service.