ECRI: Top 10 healthcare technology trends & advances to look for in 2016

What are the top-of-mind healthcare technology issues for the hospital C-suite to track this year? The ECRI Institute offers its top picks in its 2016 Top 10 Hospital C-Suite Watch List.

1. Mobile stroke units. ECRI recommends hospital and health system leaders evaluate how their approach to stroke care is functioning and whether their market would support and need an MSU.

2. Medical device cybersecurity. Medical devices are becoming "smart," with links to EHRs and the Internet. Though devices can benefit from these new capabilities, they also become vulnerable to hacks. ECRI outlines how to assess and protect against medical device cybersecurity risks.

3. Wireless wearable sensors. Wireless wearable sensors can decrease length of stay, improve outcomes and play a role in overall healthcare improvement. ECRI suggest healthcare providers explore options in this area and begin to develop strategies for use of this technology.

4. Miniature leadless pacemakers. Miniature leadless pacemakers are still in the early stages of adoption. ECRI recommends vigilance in this area, but caution before rushing to become an early adopter.

5. Blue-violet LED light fixtures. These lights have the potential to prevent infections in the healthcare setting, but the jury is still out on cost-effectiveness, and evidence for reduction in infection rates remains in the early stages. ECRI advises healthcare providers keep tabs on forthcoming evidence and consider testing the lights in a few patient rooms before full scale adoption.

6. New cardiovascular drugs. There are three new, high-cost cardiovascular drugs. Though the cost is high, the drugs have the possibility of advancing care in the cardiovascular specialty. ERCI recommends careful patient selection and close monitoring of multiple ongoing trials of the drugs.

7. Robotic surgery. The da Vinci system has been a dominate player in the robotic surgery area, but 2016 could see more competition. ECRI cautions providers creating or growing a robotic surgery program to consider waiting to evaluate competition before making any decisions.

8. Spectral computed tomography. Spectral CT technology is not new to healthcare, but there has yet to be a solid foundation of evidence demonstrating its benefits. ECRI indicates spectral CT scanners are ideal for facilities performing clinical research activities. Additionally, the Institute warns no additional reimbursement is provided for spectral CT despite higher costs.

9. Injected bioabsorbable hydrogel. New bioabsorbable hydrogel technology, called the SpaceOAR System, is designed to protect prostate cancer patients' rectums while undergoing radiation therapy. Though reimbursement for the technology is limited at this time, ECRI recommends cancer centers using the technology play an active role in creating protocols for the technology's use.

10. Warm donor organ perfusion systems. There is a warm donor organ perfusion system available for lungs; a system for donor hearts is expected this year. The technology has the potential to double the number of heart and lung transplants, according to the report. ECRI advises rental or cost-sharing strategies to help bear the high cost.

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