Drivers & ROIs behind the decision to purchase the CorPath Vascular Robotic System: Provider protection in addition to patient radiation safety
Spectrum Health has recently implemented the second CorPath System in its Grand Rapids, MI, facility.
Corindus: What were the primary factors that contributed to the decision to purchase CorPath?
Anne: When we started the process, we were looking at the system because of the technology’s procedural benefits, enabling physicians to achieve precise sub-millimeter measurement and one-millimeter advancement.
To see CorPath in action, two of our interventional cardiologists and I went to the New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. We discovered that doctors were able to sit-down away from radiation and did not have to wear lead protective equipment (the latter often leads to orthopedic injuries over the course of a physician’s career) – two additional benefits, we thought. After the demonstration, our physicians started talking about the opportunity they saw with this system to protect them from radiation and reach a near-zero dose environment. It became clear to me that we would not just be focusing entirely on the quality and safety for the patient that CorPath afforded but also on protecting interventional cardiologists and staff from the operational risks of working in the cath lab. Insights we gleaned during the site visit helped us visualize how we can achieve this.
Corindus: How did you justify the investment in CorPath?
Anne: I built my pro forma for purchasing CorPath around safety and quality: potential procedural quality for the patient, increased safety in the opportunities to reduce contrast and precision of stent positioning. However, equally important was safety for the providers. That’s the first time I created a pro forma with safety as a value-add, not just dollars.
Corindus: Do you think you are unique in that line of thinking?
Anne: I think that physicians have learned to tolerate the radiation exposure risks because the work that they do is so important. At the end of the day, it’s life-saving work, so occupational risks are seen as the lesser of the two evils. But if we really asked ourselves in what other industry we would allow the employee to be exposed unnecessarily to radiation or orthopedic injury, I don’t think we would name one. It’s a really interesting challenge for us as cath lab administrators.
Corindus: Do you see having a CorPath System as a recruiting tool for future employees?
Anne: I think it will become one eventually. I believe that physicians coming into practice now are more educated about the radiation risks than previous generations of interventionalists and expect to be protected in their work environment. Additionally, some physicians want to be involved in the development of new technologies for their field. Corindus is open to suggestions and feedback from users. Working with Corindus has given our physicians an opportunity to add a partnership with an equipment manufacturer to their professional development plan.
Corindus: Do you think your hospital’s commitment to radiation safety will make you more competitive?
Anne: It is our hope that it will do so in terms of clinical benefits and outcomes. In terms of radiation safety, we view the CorPath acquisition as a long-term strategy in our relationship with providers. If you want people to feel that they are in a workplace where their health and wellness are valued and respected, you have to take action to create such an environment.
Corindus: Why do you think there is such heightened radiation awareness for patients but not for physicians?
Anne: When people work in a certain environment, they get used to it. Because radiation is not something you can see or touch, physicians and staff get de-sensitized to it. Additionally, we need more education and awareness around the topic of radiation in the cath lab as well as on protection options. Some protective devices may take a minute or two to use and sometimes, people don’t take the time to do that.
I think as we increase awareness and make protection tools more widely available, we will receive more requests to take action to protect the staff and providers.
Corindus: What is your advice to other cath lab administrators?
Anne: Cath lab managers like myself or other folks that are fielding these questions need some good tools to further reduce dose and work in collaboration with products like CorPath. One of the things that became evident after doing site visits with the Corindus team is that a variety of approaches can be used to complement the CorPath System. CorPath is definitely a cornerstone of what we are doing at Spectrum Health but there are many ways to augment that protection. For example, we use CorPath in combination with Zero-Gravity™ lead protection equipment during procedures that require the physician to work from the bedside for a portion of the procedure. We have also started using the RaySafe i2 System to get real-time dosimetry measurements.
Corindus: How have physicians reacted to CorPath?
Anne: We have two to three really strong champions of the device who want to use it for all of their cases and do them completely lead-free. Some physicians use it intermittently, when they have a long case, or if they have done many cases so they stay away from radiation by using CorPath.
Corindus: You have recently decided to purchase the second CorPath. What drove that decision?
Our primary goal was to increase physician access. The access need was both for radiation dose reduction and to provide more time using the robot. Although physicians become proficient very quickly with the robot, repetition is beneficial. The second benefit was more time for the technologist to strengthen their skills.
Corindus: What do you envision a cath lab at Spectrum Health to look like three to five years down the road?
I believe the environment in the cath lab will be very different. I can now see the vision of a dose free cath lab as a reality. The process of achieving a zero dose environment for staff and physicians will require more than one action. First, education regarding radiation dose will create the burning platform needed to drive change. This message will require operational support by leadership. Proper protection equipment must be available to staff and providers to achieve this goal. Once the message regarding radiation safety is out and protective equipment is in place, clinical behaviors will change. I am excited to see all the activity around this challenge, raising confidence that we can achieve this level of safety in the cath lab.