Falling patient volume at hospitals has depressed the earnings not only of healthcare providers but also of the laboratory, diagnostic and medical device companies that work with them.
Intuitive Surgical, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based developer of the da Vinci robotic surgical system, last week blamed a decline in hospital admissions as well as pushback from payers for a slowdown in robotic surgical procedures, particularly for benign gynecological conditions.
On an earnings call, Gary Guthart, Intuitive's president and CEO, said the company sold 143 systems in the second quarter, or seven fewer than during the same period last year.
The overall admissions rate for benign gynecology procedures is “under pressure,” he said, adding, “Our growth rate in (da Vinci hysterectomy) is sensitive to these admissions.”
Moreover, he cited pressure from payers on the use of hysterectomy as a whole, plus a greater push for treatment in ambulatory settings instead of inpatient settings. The company also has faced other challenges, including what Guthart described as “negative press” regarding the procedure's safety and another FDA warning letter disclosed Thursday.