The Simple Way to Add Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery

Read the whole article in the January 2014 online edition of Outpatient Surgery, pages 104 – 111

Looking for affordable access to in-demand femtosecond technology? Consider partnering with a mobile cataract outsourcing company to bring everything you and your surgeons need for a successful case day, including the femtosecond laser, manufacturer-certified technicians, surgical supplies, training and clinical support.

Laser cataract surgery can be profitable, but only if the volume of potential business is large enough to justify the capital outlay, which is considerable if you’re planning to buy your own equipment. Those economic factors probably play a large part in why mobile femtosecond laser cataract surgery is catching on. Sightpath Medical ( says 100 facilities in 30 states are using its mobile femtosecond laser suite for cataract surgery (known as MoFe, for mobile femto for cataract) less than a year after its launch. Vantage Outsourcing (, another prominent player in cataract outsourcing, says it plans to provide the femtosecond technology “at a cost-effective price point while allowing for greater versatility” sometime this year.

Sightpath engineers will deliver the machines to your facility the night before your scheduled procedures and set everything up for you. In return, you’ll pay a pre-negotiated, per-procedure fee. The arrangement is ideal for someone like Peter Kohler, MD, whose Eye Center of Central Maine in Waterville, operates in a comparatively sparsely populated area and does advanced procedures on 2 Mondays a month.

“The surrounding towns have a population of maybe 30 or 40,000 people,” says Dr. Kohler. “I didn’t feel comfortable going out on a limb and buying the equipment, not knowing what the volume was going to be.” Sightpath asserts that to break even after buying a femtosecond laser, you need to perform 23 cases a month. By contrast, it says, you can generate a profit with 10 cases a month using its service.

“The volume has actually been greater than I expected,” says Dr. Kohler. “I’m probably in the gray zone of 20 or 25 cases a month, which might just about justify the purchase of a laser, but I still like the convenience of having a trained engineer come in with his or her experience to run it. I don’t have to store the machine or worry about maintenance. There’s no insurance. I have access to their marketing tools. There are a lot of not-so-obvious layers to the arrangement that make it very desirable for me.”

Dr. Kohler’s association with the company goes back to 1998 — “even before it was called Sightpath,” he says — and he says the arrangement has been “incredibly seamless,” even though Maine winters can challenge the hardiest travelers. “Out of 15 years, the weather has been an issue maybe a couple of times,” he says. “The important point is that the Sightpath model enabled me to gain access to this expensive technology and offer it to my patients in rural Maine. I can offer my patients cutting-edge technology right here in small-town America.”