HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Ethel Zimmerman Wiener Professor of Public Policy, HKS; Henry and Allison McCance Professor of Business Administration, HBS


Surgeons increasingly use robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery for a variety of medical conditions. For hospitals, the acquisition and maintenance of a robot requires a significant investment, but financial returns are not linked to any improvement in long-term patient outcomes in the current reimbursement environment. Kidney cancer provides a useful case study for evaluating the long-term value that this innovation can provide. Kidney cancer is generally treated through partial or radical nephrectomy, with evidence favoring the former procedure for appropriate patients. We found that robot-assisted surgery increased access to partial nephrectomy and that partial nephrectomy reduced mortality and renal failure. The value of the benefits of robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery to patients, in terms of qualityadjusted life-years gained, outweighed the health care and surgical costs to patients and payers by a ratio of five to one. In addition, we found no evidence that the availability of robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery increased the likelihood that inappropriate patients received partial nephrectomy.


Chandra, Amitabh, Julia Thornton Snider, Wu Yanyu, Anupam Jena, and Dana Goldman. "Robot-Assisted Surgery For Kidney Cancer Increased Access To A Procedure That Can Reduce Mortality And Renal Failure." Health Affairs 34.2 (February 2015): 220-228.