The world of peripheral navigational bronchoscopy for the biopsy of small lung nodules is rapidly changing. Endoluminal robotics, electromagnetic platforms, and shape sensing technologies offer providers many new options. Though these platforms could promise incremental benefit over standard systems, they add significant cost. Poor reimbursement plagues bronchoscopy. Our hospital contribution margin for bronchoscopic procedures was typically less than $2000. Cutting into these profits may represent a significant issue for healthy programmatic growth of dedicated thoracic oncology programs.
My experience with bronchoscopy is that building a procedural practice typically takes several years. At year 3, an inflection point occurred and volumes surged. Over four years, charges increased ten-fold. More importantly, we saw a significant stage shift and in 2017, we diagnosed 52% stage 1 and 2 lung cancers (up from 31%). Diagnosing and treating those early stage lung cancer patients is the purpose of our efforts to build effective lung cancer screening programs.
Until now, an affordable option with high accuracy and high diagnostic yields has been lacking. Fortunately, Body Vision’s lung navigation and biopsy guidance platform LUNGVISION™ offers a unique opportunity for our community with the promise to improve patient outcome AND increase cost efficiencies to the hospital. Moreover, the artificial intelligence platform offers full integration of existing technologies such as CT, fluoroscopy, and radial EBUS into one continuous flow to aid the bronchoscopist in the accurate biopsy of small lung lesions. When evaluating options, LUNGVISION™ can increase hospital’s profit margins.
Everyone can benefit including the hospital cost-conscious administrators, the provider seeking an innovative navigation platform, and most importantly, the patients. It will be exciting to see how Body Vision impacts the peripheral lung biopsy space and how many lives will be impacted positively.