Macquarie University Hospital is the first hospital in Australia to have three robotic surgical systems. It remains the busiest centre for robotic urology in New South Wales and has rapidly growing programs in other areas. What is behind the Hospital’s success?

Conjoint Associate Professor Walter Kmet, CEO of Macquarie University Hospital, says that the story of robotics at the Hospital is driven by its academic health sciences identity.

‘As part of an academic endeavour, one of the core values of the Hospital is innovation, so it’s imperative that we look at ways to bring advanced approaches to healthcare in Australia,’ explained Associate Professor Kmet, who has spent more than 30 years working in human services and health care management in Australia, South East Asia and the United Kingdom.

‘Internationally, robotic surgery has been used successfully for decades and is unquestionably the future of minimally invasive surgery. So from the beginning, we built robotics into our services strategy. Our success today is a result of that early investment.’

Robotics boosts precision and accuracy and shines particularly when operating in deep pelvic spaces. The approach is heralded for its benefits to patients: less bleeding, shorter hospital stay and faster overall recovery.

‘It’s about giving surgeons another choice in delivering the best care,’ said Associate Professor Kmet. ‘When a robotic approach could be performed for a particular procedure, there has to be clear patient benefit in selecting it. A well-proven shorter laparoscopic procedure might better serve a patient. The priority is always patient benefit.’

‘The robotic program is not just about acquiring the technology,’ Associate Professor Kmet said. ‘It’s about the ability of the team to implement the approach in a safe and effective way. This takes an investment in people – in having a highly skilled team that can not only train the next generation of robotic surgeons and nurses but also provide feedback on clinical experience to companies. In urology, gynaecology and cardiothoracic, we have some of the most experienced surgeons in the country operating at Macquarie University Hospital.

‘If companies produce robots, they are coming to us for implementation and refining. So there is research and evaluation taking place alongside clinical work, and as I walk around the Hospital it’s fantastic to see medical students and residents learning and experiencing not only what the technology can do, but how a hospital system functions with robotic systems in it. It’s really a comprehensive approach to adopting and integrating robotics at all levels of our activities.’

First published in The Health Advocate, an Australian Hospital and Healthcare Association publication.

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