Background: With the continuing rise of health-care costs, lowering inpatient length of stay can help managers and hospital administrators cope with the financial pressures and challenges of anticipated unfavorable operating margins. The goal of this study was to assess the financial impact of postoperative robotic telerounding on length of stay of all patients undergoing noncomplicated laparoscopic gastric bypass operations.
Study design: We retrospectively reviewed 376 patients who underwent laparoscopic gastric bypass for morbid obesity from January 2004 to July 2006. The first 284 patients (group A) were assessed by bedside visits alone during the postoperative period. The second group (group B) consisted of 92 patients assessed by robotic telepresence combined with regular bedside visits before their discharge. Eleven patients were excluded from the study because they suffered from postoperative complications during the same admission.
Results: After robotic rounds, 71 patients (77%) were discharged on postoperative day 1 (group B) and 218 patients (77%) assessed exclusively by bedside rounds were discharged on day 2 (group A). Mean length of stay was reduced from 2.33 days for group A to 1.26 days for group B. Early discharge created capacity for an additional 71 patient/days, although only 54 beds (76%) were reoccupied by new patients, representing a total financial gain of $219,578. Additionally, total room and board savings of $14,378 were realized as early discharge. Readmission rates within 7 days after discharge were 2% for group A and 1% for group B.
Conclusions: Robotic telerounding substantially reduces length of stay of patients undergoing noncomplicated laparoscopic gastric bypass operation. Telepresence technology applied in these settings had a substantial financial impact by reducing variable cost and creating capacity for growth and income.