Medical Robotics Magazine

The first and only commercial feature medical robotics news magazine, founded February 2007 by John J. Otrompke, JD, consultant and publisher


Medical Robotics Magazine is the world's first and only commercial feature news magazine devoted to all aspect of the medical robotics industry- including robotic surgery, physical therapy robots, hospital orderlies, and other topics related to robotic medicine. As a feature magazine, Medical Robotics features interviews, business news, conference coverage and editorials, as well as a generous portion of articles written by noteworthy robotics surgeons as well as clinical trials reports. MR has been on-line since 2007, and first appeared in print in January of 2008 at the annual meeting of MIRA (the Minimally Invasive Robotics Association) in Rome, Italy. Medical Robotics Magazine is copyrighted, features a nascent Board of Editorial Advisors, and is indexed by the U.S. Library of Congress. All contents (c) 2011 John J. Otrompke, JD Contact: John J. Otrompke, JD 646-730-0179

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

An Interview with Dr. Rahuldev Bhalla, MD

In Robotic Surgery Center of Excellence, Stony Brook's
Executives Rely on Bhalla's Commitment

By John J. Otrompke, JD

Dr. Rahuldev Bhalla, MD, director of robotic surgery at Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York brings a unique perspective to rolling out a robotic surgery program. Bhalla not only directs the robotic surgery program at Stony Brook beginning in August of last year, but also started another program at a state university across the river in New Jersey, between 2004 and 2007.

Yet comparing the two programs is like comparing apples to oranges, largely because of differences in institutional support.

“The roll-out here was a lot more smooth not only because I knew what to expect, but because both the dean and the CEO here are very into having this robotic program succeed. At the other hospital there was not as much support,” said Bhalla, who will be speaking on how to ensure a successful roll-out of a robotic surgery program, at a conference on robotic surgery in Philadelphia this June.

“It is imperative that the hospital has a vision or a plan,” said Bhalla. “Listen, we’re the only tertiary care center in Suffolk County, serving most of Long Island. We’re going to be able to deliver health care at 2010 levels. In addition our urology program is one of the top fifty in the whole country,” he said.

But even when environmental circumstances are right for a new roll-out, the institution has to figure out how the program will fit in with the rest of the hospital. “It takes operating room time, money to buy the machine it, and resource support. You initially have to be able to take a big hit financially,” said Bhalla, who noted that total costs for starting up with a Da Vinci ‘S’, such as Stony Brook has, run between $2.2 and $2.5 million, inclusive of all services, instruments and related costs. “But we’re doing the community a service by having this here,” he said.

Bhalla stated that he is getting a lot of work out of his institution’s Da Vinci, with 80% of the institution’s urology cases being done robotically. Thirteen urologists practice at Stony Brook, Bhalla said.

Qualified physicians are mandatory, he added. “You definitely need someone who’s skilled and going to bring a reputation here because if you go through the learning curve and have a fault, you’ll get a bad reputation and not get any more referrals,” he said.

Nevetheless, opportunities abound in robotic surgery, even outside the treatment context. Stony Brook, for example, has a large robotics program on the university side as well, developing robotics for lung cancer. Bhalla himself is involved with research to add tactile feedback to the Da Vinci system’s other advantages.

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