Supply drives demand: The Da Vinci surgical robot follows the same principle as the rest of the health care industry.

Abnormal Facies

I recently observed my first robot-assisted operation with the da Vinci surgical system (left).  It’s designed to allow for surgery that’s less invasive and more precise, resulting in shorter hospital stays.  As you can see on the manufacturer’s website, the da Vinci surgical system is the best thing ever invented, and is somehow related to senior citizens dancing on a beach.

Essentially, the system consists of a half-ton multi-armed robot on wheels (which doesn’t even wax or buff the floor as it glides around the room), a separate control counsel for the surgeon, and a crapload of wires that are presumably intended to trip the 12 assistants and device reps apparently necessary for the case to proceed.

The surgeon and several unfortunate residents or medical students will position the patient, make small incisions, and attach several ports through which tools can be inserted.  Then, an OR nurse who may…

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