Can a new logistical approach radically change surgical options for patients?


One of the things we have been asked multiple times over the years is “What does it cost to have” a radical prostatectomy, or a penile implant, or some other prostate cancer-related procedure. Usually, we have had some idea, but it can be near to impossible to get precise, total costs for such procedures — even from your local hospital.

There now appears to be a developing, new solution to this problem — through a web site called Surgeo.com, launched at the end of June — and they are offering both of the procedures mentioned above, which are distinctly prostate cancer-related.

Surgeo.com actually offers a total of 18 different elective surgical procedures so far, all carried out by one of more specialists in the particular procedure at one or more different treatment centers — and not just in America. For each procedure offered, the patient is given options that are “gated” by issues like what the operation is, which surgeons have agreed to work with Surgeo to provide services, and where the surgeon carries out that particular type of surgery. For each scenario, Surgeo then tells the patient what the overall price for the operation will be (inclusive, for example, of the surgeon’s fee, the anesthesiologist’s fee, the operating room and other institutional costs, etc.).

In other words, you know up front what you will be paying for the actual operation in total (which is very important if you are a “self-pay” patient). And you can choose the cheapest option from a cost perspective or the most convenient option from a logistical perspective … or you can choose based purely on the operating surgeon.

With respect to prostate cancer, for example, Surgeo has so far contracted with two specialist surgeons to carry out radical prostatecomies — one in San Antonio, Texas; the other in Basingstoke in England. Similarly, for those men interested in looking into getting a penile implant, Surgeo has already contracted with six different specialist surgeons at various centers in the USA.

We haven’t had a chance to look into it in detail, but it is perfectly reasonable to believe that at least some insurance companies will even cover the costs involved (at least for a needed radical prostatectomy) through such a system.

Cost transparency is an increasingly major issue in getting treatment for all sorts of health-related problems today. If you ask your local hospital what it would cost to get one of these operations, they might not even be able to tell you with accuracy! In the Surgeo scenario, you know exactly what you will pay upfront; you only have to pay Surgeo; and then they pay everyone else involved at pre-assigned rates.

Now this does not guarantee a patient that he will get better or worse treatment than if he goes to other providers — but it does make sure that the patient knows what he is actually going to pay and what he is going to pay for, which is a whole new way of thinking about surgical costs from a patient perspective. And we can tell you that The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink has quite certainly heard of some of the surgeons who have agreed to work with Surgeo! These are not “unknowns”.

For a patient who is faced with having to pay for these types of prostate cancer-related surgery himself, if nothing else this service offers a baseline against which to start working … and if you need a financial loan to cover the costs, Surgeo seems to have that possibility covered too.

However, from a more global perspective, what is really exciting is the truly transformative idea that you can just go on line, select a surgeon to operate on you for the type of elective surgery you need and where you want to have it done, know what it is going to cost you, and then have a company like Surgeo help you deal with all of the logistical issues to make it happen. It’ll never work for emergency surgery like getting your appendix removed in a hurry or other types of critical care, but it should work really well for a whole slew of quite complex types of elective surgery. Just have a look at the full list offered by Surgeo already (from laser vision correction to gastric banding).

We’d love to hear from any patients that look into using this service.

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