3D Printed Models: Saving Downstream Cost for Healthcare

New Study: 3D Printing Makes Medicine Cheaper

A new analysis published in Academic Radiology says that anatomic models created via 3D printing can be used during patients’ operative care to save health systems substantial downstream costs.

The study recognizes healthcare’s growing interest in 3D printing and in fact many hospitals have since adopted 3D printed models due to their potential “pay for itself” impact. What these ‘payments’ refer to are the surgeon’s superior confidence, the ability to perform complex procedures, and financial savings secondary to shorter, more efficient procedures.

In the study, the researchers reviewed operating room cost-per minute and quantified time saved when 3D printed models were used in orthopedic and maxillofacial surgery. A mean of $64 per operating room minute was used as reference standard. This is to create various financial scenarios. In conclusion. seven studies that used 3D printed models in surgical care showed a mean of 62 minutes saved time and 25 studies of 3D printed surgical guides revealed a mean of 23 minutes saved.

The study also pointed out that cost-savings can be substantial and financially feasible even at relatively low volumes of 3D printed anatomical models and surgical guides. This is good news for 3D printing labs that can keep their operational costs down with about 63 models or guides a year.

What will be the source or sources of the models/guides?

They can be drawn from CT, MRI and volumetric ultrasound images used in preoperative planning, intraoperative guidance, medical trainee education, and patient information and consent.

This study used literature-based financial analyses that were able to demonstrate the the representative of value and financial feasibility of 3D printing in preoperative planning and saving intraoperative time. Nonetheless, further studies are needed to validate the data because of the many mixed sources used for analysis.