Diffusion and Adoption of the Surgical Robot in Urology

November 25, 2021

Several urology experts, including UPMC Department of Urology physicians Benjamin J. Davies, MD, and Bruce L. Jacobs, MD, MPH, collaborated to publish research in the journal Translational Andrology and Urology regarding the diffusion and adoption of the surgical robot in urology.

Over the last two decades, robotic surgery has become a mainstay in hospital systems around the world. Urologists have been at the forefront of robotics adoption, with Intuitive Surgical Inc.'s da Vinci robotic system as the most popular — commonly used for prostatectomy, partial nephrectomy, radical cystectomy, lymph node dissection, and more.

The rapid rate of adoption and diffusion of the surgical robot has been propelled by many important industry-specific factors. In an examination of the surgical robot in urologic oncology, the doctors proposed that widespread adoption required engagement from three market participants: the surgeon, the hospital administrator, and the patient.

The surgeon’s involvement is critical to device adoption, being that they are the ones who perform procedures and utilize the technology. In order for a technology to be introduced at a hospital, the hospital administrator must consider the robot to be cost-effective and a viable way to enhance the existing standard of care. Lastly, the patient is the one benefitting from the robotic capabilities, and by electing to undergo robotic procedures, patients play a critical role in the adoption and subsequent diffusion of the surgical robot in urologic oncology.

The ongoing adoption and diffusion of further advancements within robotic surgery can be analyzed by their ability to capture these three core groups. This three-point model is useful in analyzing the market forces that drive the adoption or abandonment of these technologies.

To explain the timeframe for achieving market dominance, the doctors proposed the “diffusion of innovation” model. As consumers adopt a technology, its overall market share increases in logistic fashion until market saturation is reached. Near the end of the “early majority” phase at roughly 50% overall adoption, a critical mass is achieved, after which a technology is generally able to sustain itself.

Regardless of the new technology and its purported benefits, the application of the described three-point model is useful in analyzing the market forces that drive the adoption or abandonment of these technologies.

Read more about this study.

Other study authors include:

  • Anup A. Shah
  • Jathin Bandari
  • Daniel Pelzman