About the Project
Robots doing surgery can seem like science fiction, but in reality, robotic surgery is well established in various programs in Canada and the USA. Surgical robots have been used in Vancouver Coastal Health since 2007 and are hailed as a driving force behind a less invasive, less painful, and faster recovery experience for patients. For instance, in a comparison between retropubic radical prostatectomy (ORP), laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (LRP) and robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (RALP), the latter was characterized by lower blood loss, fewer transfusions, and fewer days spent in hospital.
In July 2023, Fraser Health announced it will launch a $9 million dollar robotic surgery program. Celebrating this development, BC’s Minister of Health Adrian Dix stated, “Robot-assisted surgery has been proven advantageous in shortening patients’ recovery time and I am pleased we will be able to bring this leading surgical technology to patients within the Fraser Health region.”
Though Island Health does not yet have a robotics surgery program in place, there is value in learning from those who do. In an effort to glean insights from existing robotic surgery practitioners, Urologists Dr. Nathan Hoag, Dr. Jeff McCracken, Dr. Iain McAuley, and Dr. Michael Metcalfe formed a project team to facilitate engagement with administrators, affected specialties, and non-Island Health practitioners about the topic. “The idea was to set Island Health up to hit the ground running”, says Dr. Hoag.
Through meetings with their colleagues in Urology, Gynecology, General Surgery, allied health, and Dr. Will Orrom from Island Health administration, the team cemented their commitment to establishing a robotic surgery program in Victoria and developed some strategies for deepening their knowledge. Two of the team members attended a surgical robotics conference in Vancouver and had opportunities to trial different robots.
Laying this foundation was essential for the future establishment of a robotics surgery program at Island Health. Dr. Hoag commented on the importance of compensating physicians to engage with each other, managers, and administration in these planning discussions, “We appreciated being able to sit together to think through the steps involved in this project”.