The future of surgery — Lessons from Sharp HealthCare

During a panel discussion at 14th Becker's Annual Meeting, leaders from San Diego-based Sharp HealthCare discussed their health system's growth strategies and how it is preparing for the future of surgery.

The panelists were: 

  • Chris Walker, RN, COO of Sharp Memorial Hospital
  • Pamela Lee, MD, a colorectal and general surgeon with Sharp HealthCare
  • Tony Guerra, chief finance - market growth officer with Sharp Metropolitan Medical Campus  


3 takeaways from the conversation:

1.) In recent years, Sharp HealthCare has improved surgical performance by expanding access to da Vinci surgery platforms. This required a mindset shift among leadership to assess the potential benefits of investing in more da Vinci surgery platforms instead of just focusing on the price tag of the investment.  

"We were sitting on a bunch of surgical talent, but some were having to wait several days to get on the da Vinci platform to do a case. We had a lot of frustrated surgeons. After I assessed the situation, it became clear that they were right and we had to reframe our approach." - Chris Walker

"When assessing potential investments in robotic surgery expansion, we were too focused on cost only. We had to look at the big picture and take care quality and staff satisfaction into the equation." - Tony Guerra


2.) After a data-driven analysis, Sharp leaders found that the optimized use of da Vinci surgery platforms yielded both cost and quality benefits. 

"We took a look at length of stay, surgical site infections, complications, readmissions, blood utilization and other metrics, and compared the differences between our open, our laparoscopic and our da Vinci technology. And we proved over and over in many different specialties the value of da Vinci technology and how it actually helped us lower the total cost of care…better quality care costs less. That is what we've proven." - Chris Walker


3.) Up and coming surgeons are increasingly experienced with — and want to work on — da Vinci surgery platforms. This will become even more true as the technology continues to advance and directly influence clinician recruitment and retention. 

"When talking to new surgeons in interviews, I've found they really don't want to go to a hospital where they won't have access to da Vinci surgery platforms. You're just not going to get the best and the brightest if you're not providing that access." - Dr. Pamela Lee

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