Socioeconomic factors and parity of access to robotic surgery in a county health system

Leah Carey Tatebe*, Regan Gray, Ken Tatebe, Fernando Garcia, Bradley Putty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Equal access to novel surgical technologies remains a policy concern as hospitals adopt robotic surgery with increasing prevalence. This study sought to determine whether socioeconomic factors influence access to robotic surgery. All laparoscopic and robotic fundoplications and paraesophageal hernia repairs performed by a surgical group over 6 years at a county and two neighboring private hospitals were identified. Robotic use by hospital setting, age, gender, reported ethnicity, estimated income, insurance payer, and diagnosis were examined. Of 418 patients identified, 180 (43%) presented to the county hospital, where subjects were younger (51.1 versus 56.2 years, p < 0.001) with lower estimated income ($50,289 versus $62,959, p < 0.001). In the county setting, there was no difference in reported ethnicity (p = 0.169), estimated income (p = 0.081), or insurance payer (p = 0.535) between groups treated laparoscopically versus robotically. There was no difference in the treatment groups by estimated income in the private hospital setting (p = 0.308). Overall higher estimated income and insurance payer were associated with a higher chance of undergoing robotic procedures (p < 0.001). Presence of a paraesophageal hernia was associated with increased chance of undergoing robotic therapy in all comparisons (p < 0.001). No disparity in access to robotic surgery offered in the county hospital was observed based on age, gender, reported ethnicity, estimated income, or insurance payer. Patients with higher income and private insurers were more likely to present to the private hospital setting where robotics is utilized more often. The presence of a paraesophageal hernia was a significant factor in determining robotic therapy in both settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Robotic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Fundoplication
  • Minimally invasive
  • Paraesophageal hernia
  • Racial disparity
  • Robotics
  • Socioeconomic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Health Informatics


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