3D printed models can cut downstream costs for health systems

Three-dimensional (3D) printed anatomic models, often derived from medical images, can be used during patients’ operative care to save health systems substantial downstream costs, according to a new analysis published in Academic Radiology.

Interest in 3D printing has been on the rise. This past July, four category III current procedural terminology (CPT) codes went into effect for 3D printed anatomic models and guides. The move was spearheaded by the ACR and RSNA.

While interest is growing, David H. Ballard, MD, of the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology in St. Louis and colleagues wrote in the study that hospitals have long adopted 3D printed models due to their potential “pay for itself” impact.

“These ‘payments’ include superior confidence of the surgeon or proceduralist, the ability to perform complex procedures that were poorly understood anatomically with 3D visualization (the collective term for viewing a 3D volume in any format on a 2D screen), and financial savings secondary to shorter, more efficient procedures,” the authors added.

The researchers reviewed literature that included operating room cost-per minute and quantified time saved using 3D printed constructs in orthopedic and maxillofacial surgery. A mean of $64 per operating room minute was used as reference standard. Ballard et al. took cost-per-minute of operating room time numbers and mean time saved using 3D models from the studies to create various financial scenarios.

Overall, seven studies that used 3D printed models in surgical care showed a mean of 62 minutes ($3720/case saved from reduced time) of time saved, and 25 studies of 3D printed surgical guides revealed a mean of 23 minutes ($1488/case saved from reduced time) saved.

By Matt O’Connor | HealthImaging

Image Credit: Matt O’Connor / HealthImaging


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Peter Coffaro is a growth-driven and strategic executive with over 25 years of progressive management success in the medical device industry. With a proven track record and recognized expertise, Peter has established himself as one of the top influencers in medical sales, as acknowledged by prestigious publications such as the World Journal of Orthopedics, Exponential Healthtech, and MedReps.com. Throughout his career, Peter has accumulated 10 years of combined sales management experience, excelling in various roles including Director, General Manager, Distributor, and Vice President. He has worked for industry-leading orthopedic companies such as Zimmer, DePuy, and Stryker, solidifying his deep knowledge and network within the field. Peter’s passion for innovation and emerging technologies led him to found OrthoFeed, an award-winning blog covering digital orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Through this platform, he stays at the forefront of the industry and contributes to the dissemination of valuable insights. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson, demonstrating his exceptional contributions and impact on the organization. His expertise extends to areas such as organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing, and professional education. Peter earned a B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry from Northern Illinois University, further complementing his comprehensive understanding of the medical field. With his wealth of experience, strategic mindset, and dedication to advancing healthcare, Peter Coffaro is a valuable asset and leader in the medical device industry.

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