ECRI Institute has taken its knowledge of emerging devices, equipment, medicines, and therapies poised to disrupt health care — from new endoscopic imaging techniques to a mood-sensitive robot — and produced its annual Top 10 Hospital C-suite Watch List.
“Navigating new technologies is one of the biggest challenges we hear about from hospital leaders,” said Robert Maliff, director of the Applied Solutions Group at ECRI, in a statement. “They simply can’t afford to miss the mark on which clinical advancements to bring in to improve patient care.”
In addition to new innovations, ECRI's list also weighs in with new recommendations for wrestling with hospital management issues that have been around for years.
Here are the innovations and topics in health care that are top-of-mind for executives, and stand to make the biggest difference in 2017 for patients, staff and the bottom line:
- 1. Liquid biopsies – Getting biopsies from patients from their blood, plasma, serum or urine is safer and faster than needle or surgical biopsies. The FDA approved the first liquid biopsy for cancer in June 2016. But research and testing continues, to make the tests more reliable.
- 2. Opioid addiction – At least two companies now offer laboratory-developed tests to identify those at greater risk of opioid addiction, or for those that might have a poor response to opioids for relief of pain.
- 3. Initiative to Improve Outcomes and Costs of Abdominal Surgery – Several research universities have piloted programs that reduce risks and the cost of such surgeries.
- 4. Right-sizing Your Hospital – Making decisions on what equipment to buy or what new buildings to build are tough on health care leaders. It might be time to revisit those capital budget processes and refresh them for long-term planning decisions. Get committee members to be engaged, review changes to ensure you get achieved goals, and confirm that horizon scanners give a good picture to clinical service line planners.
- 5. Disinfecting Lights – New advances in ultraviolet-C LEDs continue in ridding areas of health care-acquired infections. Besides disinfection robots and ceiling fixtures, LED disinfection strips have come along. These new LED lights are flexible and can be used in places such as under beds and under countertops. They are also creating sanitizing wands and UV disinfecting cabinets for the tablets and smartphones being used by employees.
- 6. Emotional Robot – A robot has been designed that can answer questions in 19 languages, can recognize faces, and engage in conversation. Two Belgian hospitals have been using “Pepper” in their reception areas to support the staff and greet visitors. The color of the eyes change according to the perceived mood. The robot has 3-D and HD cameras. The developers can add applications specifically for what health care organizations need.
- 7. New Repositioning Table for Robotic Surgery – Intuitive partnered with Hill-Rom/Trumpf Medical to create a new operating room table integrated with the da Vinci Xi robotically-assisted laparoscopic surgery (RALS). The two components are able to communicate with each other through software. When the table gets moved, the robotic arms move automatically without coming out of the patient’s body. This can be quite useful in operations such as colorectal surgery because surgeons frequently have to reposition a patient.
- 8. Better Endoscopic Visualization – Endoscopic surgery is getting a boost with fluorescence imaging techniques. These were widely used by ophthalmologists and cardiologists. It’s called indocyanine green (ICG) imaging, and it can visualize malignant tissue undetectable under conventional light.
- 9. New Help for Those with Crohn’s Disease – Ovasave is a personalized T-cell immunotherapy being used on those with refractory Crohn’s. Also, two companies are developing stem cell treatments for the disease.
- 10. Vaccines for Type 1 Diabetes – Ten diabetes vaccines are in trials right now to prevent or cure Type 1 diabetes in children and adults.
“As new technologies come and go, ECRI remains steadfast in its mission to keep health care leaders’ technology decisions tethered to their patients’ needs while keeping an eye trained on evidence-based research,” said Diane Robertson, director, Health Technology Assessment Information Service at ECRI.