Direct to consumer advertising of robotic heart bypass surgery: Effectiveness, patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes

Soroosh Kiani, Dinesh Kurian, Stanislav Henkin, Pranjal Desai, Frederic Brunel, Robert Poston*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Robotic coronary artery bypass (rCABG) is a relatively novel and less invasive form of surgery. A yearlong direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) campaign was initiated to provide the community with information regarding rCABG, increase awareness and recruit patients. To optimize information content and ensure appropriate messaging for future campaigns, this study aims to analyze the campaign effectiveness and compared service quality perceptions and clinical outcomes, following surgery across DTCA-responder and control groups. Design/methodology/approach: The institution initiated an rCABG program and one-year DTCA campaign. The authors prospectively documented all rCABG referrals prompted by these ads (DTCA-responder group) and concurrent referrals from medical providers (controls). Groups were compared according to baseline characteristics, perioperative outcomes, patient satisfaction (HCAHPS survey) and functional capacity at three weeks (Duke Activity Status Index). At six months, both groups were surveyed for patient satisfaction and unmet expectations. Findings: There were 103 DTCA responders and 77 controls. The subset of responders that underwent rCABG (n = 54) had similar characteristics to controls, except they were younger, less likely to have lung disease or to be scheduled as an urgent case. Both groups had similar 30-day clinical outcomes, functional capacity recovery and overall satisfaction at three weeks. Follow-up interviews at six months and four years revealed that the DTCA group reported more unmet expectations regarding the “size of the skin incisions” and “recovery time” but no concern about “expertise of their surgeon”. Practical implications: The DTCA campaign was effective at recruiting patients. The specific focus of the ads and narrow timeframe for decision-making about CABG lends confidence that the incremental cases seen during the campaign were prompted primarily by DTCA. However, differences in unmet expectations underscore the need to better understand the impact of message content on patients recruited via DTCA campaigns. Originality/value: This is one of the first studies to provide real-world direct empirical evidence of patients’ clinical and attitudinal outcomes for DTCA campaigns. Furthermore, the findings contradict prevailing beliefs that DTCA is ineffective for prompting surgical referrals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-375
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016


  • Coronary artery bypass grafting
  • Direct to consumer
  • Expectations
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Robotic
  • Satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Marketing


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