Slideshow Tech Watch List for Hospital C-Execs

  • January 14 2015, 11:27am EST
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The ECRI Technology Watch List for Hospital C-Suites

A new report from patient safety organization ECRI Institute examines new and emerging technologies that will compel the attention of the C-Suite in healthcare organizations during the next 18 months. The in-depth report explains the technologies and their benefits and limitations, available evidence from trials, costs and “what to do” tips on next steps to take. Here is a summary of the technologies to watch. (Photo: Fotolia)

Disinfection Robots to Fight Hospital-Acquired Infections

Early-adopter hospitals have robots that use Ultraviolet-C Light or Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor to disinfect patient rooms without incurring additional labor costs. “UV-C Light has been used to decontaminate drinking water and air handling systems for many years, and UC-V deactivates DNA and RNA, and HPV utilizes oxidative processes to kill microorganisms, including spores,” according to the report. (Photo: Fotolia)

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3-D Printers: Count on It

The technology already has been used to create customized implants to repair airways in two children, to create 3-D models of body parts to plan intricate surgeries, and to produce orthopedic implants on-demand. Printers are being explored to make custom implants, and create human tissues and organs by laying cells. (Photo: Fotolia)

Middleware to Meet Safety Goals on Clinical Alarms

ECRI defines middleware as “providing messaging services so different applications can communicate--it tries to glue everything together.” Consequently, middleware is seen as an emerging tool to revolutionize alarm management and notification, and better comply with a Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal on managing alarms more effectively. “A middleware solution can help organizations collect alarms and data for analysis and in turn help them recognize problematic alarms.” (Photo: Fotolia)

Post-Discharge Clinics to Reduce Readmissions

These specialized clinics could smooth care transitions. Patients being discharged too often cannot schedule an appointment to get in and see their doctor or a referred specialist in a timely manner. “Patients are still recovering from their hospital stay and become overwhelmed trying to manage their own care. Post-Discharge clinics are an initiative intended to create smoother care transitions, address patient needs and prevent hospital readmissions.” (Photo: Fotolia)

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Will Google Glass Benefit Doctors and Patients?

Google Glass may be dead for the mass consumer market, but early applications for healthcare could offer hands-free documentation and information review, and enable experienced surgeons to remotely coach novice surgeons. Theoretically, the technology could enable a remote pathologist to view a tumor through a surgeon’s eyes and consult on whether more tissue should be excised. A pilot test at Dignity Health found the glasses considerably helped increase patient care time while reducing data entry time. Further, “Most patients seem to view Google Glass favorably, based on reports that less than 1% of patients in the study asked physicians to remove Google Glass during their visits,” ECRI notes. (Photo: Fotolia)

New Anti-Obesity Devices

Three minimally invasive anti-obesity devices are in development. One sends low-energy electrical impulses from an implantable pulse generator to block normal vagus nerve signals and reduce appetite. The second places two balloons in the stomach to reduce capacity. The third is a sleeve placed in the small intestine to partially block absorption of nutrients through intestinal walls. While bariatric surgery targets very obese patients, these devices could bring a new revenue stream to facilities attracting patients with less severe obesity. (Photo: Fotolia)

Caring for Millennials with Cancer

Cancer survival rates for patients 15-24 years of age have not improved to the same degree as rates for those under 15 and over 50 in recent years. The National Cancer Institute calls the lack of treatment facilities for Millennials a “no-man’s land,” as most of these patients are treated at a pediatric or adult cancer center. Several cancer centers for Millennials have opened in the United States and offer program-specific patient navigators, physicians with expertise in germ cell tumors most commonly seen in this population, access to recent clinical trials, and age-specific education using smartphones and tablets. (Photo: Fotolia)

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Fecal Microbiota Therapy for GI Disorders

“Clinical use of fecal microbiota transplantation, a nonpharmacologic procedure for treating recurrent Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection by transferring donated fecal matter from a healthy patient to an ill patient, has spread widely and has even been proposed in a recent published cost-effectiveness study from Johns Hopkins as first-line therapy for C. diff,” according to ECRI. The therapy reestablishes normal microbial diversity in the colon. It could become even more available if the material becomes standardized, licensed and ready for off-the-shelf use. (Photo: Fotolia)

Artificial Pancreas Device Systems

A first-generation externally worn insulin pump and glucose monitoring device called a “threshold-suspend system” is available for treatment of Type 1 diabetes mellitus. It stops insulin delivery for up to two hours when sensor values reach a preset level and the patient does not respond to an alarm. The FDA is prioritizing review of research for these systems, providing guidance and finding ways to shorten study and review time. (Photo: Fotolia)

Tipping Point for Telehealth

Many hospitals participate in telestroke programs, telemedicine grants have improved rural health, remote medicine for prisoners is well-developed and wearable sensors are advancing. All this leads ECRI to wonder if telehealth is now an imperative service rather than a niche application. “Software and hardware development have spawned remarkable advances in monitoring technologies that include use of wearable sensors, making both telehealth and wearable sensors markets with potential for huge growth.”

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The free ECRI report, “2015 Top 10 Hospital C-Suite Watch List,” is available here. (Photo: Fotolia)