Archive August 2017 XVIII, No. 8

Cataract Surgery Technology Update

Forget the marketing pitches — our reader survey reveals what's making a real difference in eye surgery today.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Executive Editor


cataract surgery SMART SHOPPER Cataract surgery's thin profit margin demands investing in products that provide significant clinical benefit or that attract patients and surgeons to your ORs.

The nearly 200 facility leaders who took our 5th annual Cataract Surgery Technology Survey provided a glimpse into what's driving purchasing decisions and which technological advances are catching on at eye centers across the country. Femtosecond lasers still haven't deeply penetrated the market — and facilities won't be adding a laser anytime soon if they haven't already done so. Facility leaders will gladly invest in ergonomic solutions such as heads-up video displays to protect their surgeons from repetitive stress injuries, but tighten up the purse strings when it comes to adding dropless cataract surgery, pupillary maintenance solutions or surgical microscope imaging upgrades.

The bottom line appears to be the bottom line: We get the sense that eye center administrators want to buy into the future of cataract surgery, as long as the price is right. Deciding where to spend your facility's hard-earned money demands considering not only the technology you'll add, but also the patients and surgeons who might go elsewhere if you don't pull the trigger on new purchases. "Your cataract service line must remain profitable and current," says Carol Cappella, RN, MSN, CNOR, clinical director of the Delray Beach (Fla.) Surgery Center. "You also have to look at what you can't afford to lose."

Lasers level off
Half of our survey's respondents currently offer femtosecond laser cataract surgery at their facilities and 45% own their platforms outright. A majority of respondents say the technology is used in fewer than half of all cataract cases performed at their facilities. When we asked those without lasers how likely they were to add the technology within the next 2 years, 75% said they're "unlikely" or "very unlikely" to do so.

The physician-owners of the 3-OR Eye Surgery Center at the Biltmore in Phoenix, Ariz., invested in a femtosecond platform in late 2012. About 45% of the center's 7,600 cataract patients choose to undergo laser surgery. The center has increased profits by charging patients for the use of the laser in pass-through fees that cover premium IOLs and improved refractive outcomes, says administrator Sharon Dillon, RN, CNOR, CASC, adding that aligning laser technology with pre-op diagnostic platforms — which feed patient data directly to the laser unit — maps out a surgical plan designed to improve the accuracy of lens implant placement and refractive outcomes, particularly in patients with astigmatism.

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