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Focused Ultrasound

October 23, 2014
From the September 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

The Foundation is working aggressively to overcome the hurdles focused ultrasound faces in becoming a standard of care. Within our various programs, we fund translational preclinical and early clinical research, foster collaboration to break down the silos that hinder innovation and help aggregate the evidence required for widespread reimbursement.

Value of non-invasive technologies
Hospital systems that want to thrive in the new environment will need to invest in the future. We will see an increased demand from payors and patients for noninvasive treatments, like focused ultrasound, that will shorten or eliminate hospital stays, reduce readmission rates, diminish infection rates and other risks, and ultimately lower the cost of care.

For patients, focused ultrasound offers the potential of less pain, reduced complications, and getting back to their lives faster. With treatments like focused ultrasound available, patients will come off the sidelines. As you eliminate the fear of complex surgery or radiation from the equation, I believe many patients with benign but nevertheless serious conditions will opt for treatment rather than simply toleration. This will help to decrease the cost of care and improve the overall health of the population — the ultimate goal of the ACO model.

Realizing the value of innovations like focused ultrasound requires investment and long-term vision. Early adapting academic medical centers are already vested in the technology. Hospital systems who want to maintain a competitive edge should continue to track the technology.

Think back 25 or 30 years, before anyone had heard of an MR. It promised to be the next big thing in diagnosis, but it was expensive and perhaps ultrasound imaging was sufficient. Imagine today’s clinical world without it. Now imagine a new technology that leverages the real-time imaging of MR coupled with power of sound waves, and the potential that exists to transform the future of therapy.

About the author: Neal F. Kassell, MD, is the founder and chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Virginia, where he was co-chair until 2006. He has published more than 500 scientific papers and book chapters.

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