Anticipating the next big thing in healthcare technology is never easy, and in today's dynamic environment, it can be particularly challenging, as noted in this Buyer's Brief, sponsored by MD Buyline. "Changes taking place to payment methodologies and patient mix are just some factors that should weigh into investment decisions," notes
Shifts in care practices also are influencing how technology is viewed. Hospitals increasingly are focusing on a "service line" approach, considering a patient's treatment across care settings. In this landscape, the role of technology should be viewed more broadly, and ROI may not be as direct, with high cost of technology being offset in ways such as reductions in length of stay or faster recovery.
Also, as the Affordable Care Act brings coverage to 30 million patients, many of them younger than the traditional
When weighing 2014 technology investments, hospital and health system leaders should consider the top emerging technologies below, which MD Buyline has selected based on likelihood of impacting healthcare delivery in light of changing trends. Look for Part 2 of this list in hfm's January issue.
* Viral Blood Filters
Researchers are developing filter technology designed to remove infections in the bloodstream, separating tumor cells and toxins from the blood in order to allow drug therapies to be more effective. These developing technologies use either magnetic nanobeads that bind to pathogens in the patient's blood or a filter coated with plant-derived antibodies to capture viruses and small pathogens. Early clinical studies for the antibody-coated filter technology decreased hepatitis C volume in dialysis patients by 57 percent.1
What healthcare executives should know: Central lineassociated bloodstream infections occur in more than 82,000 patients per year and cost an average of
To date, there has not been a published cost per patient analysis for viral blood filter products, but based on similar technology, the figure could fall within the
* Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Genetic Testing/Consumer Genetics
New technology has allowed a wide range of genetic tests to become directly available to the consumer, raising questions over how patients should use the results. Key concerns are quality and accuracy of the tests, lack of standard metrics, and possibility of harmful healthcare decisions based on test results.4 That said, in a recent pilot study, 63 percent of patients who accessed genetic risk profiles made a follow-up appointment with a physician.5
What healthcare executives should know: Currently, genetic counseling is covered under CPT code 96040, with a payment level of
* Injectable Spinal Hydrogels
Degenerative disc disease is one of the leading causes of lower back pain in adults, affecting 40 percent of the United States.6 If left untreated, patients may eventually face either a fusion or disc replacement, both of which are options that require a several-day stay in the hospital. Recent advances in biomaterials have indicated that hydrogels have the potential to treat intervertebral disc degeneration, restoring the integrity of the disc height.
What healthcare executives should know: The major impact of hydrogels will be their ability to either delay or stop disc damage, reducing the need for fusions and artificial disc replacement. Hydrogel therapy allows surgery to be performed earlier in treatment and on younger patients than traditionally seen and is suited to the outpatient setting. In addition, the simplicity of the procedure should allow a wider range of hospitals to perform the procedure (although hospitals not already using laparoscopic spinal technology would need to invest in it to support the surgery).
* Smart Surgical Knife/Smart Probe
The "smart scalpel" assists surgeons in identifying biological tissue types and distinguishing normal tissue from diseased. One product type is optical-based and uses spectroscopy to identify diseased blood vessels and treat them with laser technology. It offers real-time feedback, which helps surgeons limit damage to the healthy tissue and work in very narrow margins. Early studies reflect an accuracy of selectivity of approximately 10 microm for a 6.7 mm x 5 mm field. Another technology, known as the iKnife, is designed to ablate cancerous cells while leaving healthy tissue intact. Analyzing gases (smoke) emitted from electrosurgical ablation in real time have been shown to have 100 percent accuracy when compared with histological diagnosis in clinical studies.7
What healthcare executives should know: Current price estimates are between
Magnetocardiography (MCG) is an evolving technology designed to produce a map of the heart's electrical activity. It could allow for more accurate and early diagnosis of adult and fetal arrhythmias and coronary artery disease. The technology's noninvasive nature allows MCG to be used as a diagnostic tool for compromised patients as well as pregnant women and their fetuses.
What healthcare executives should know: New sensor technology is being developed that is projected to lower the price of this technology from
1 TullÍs, R.H., et al, "Reduction of Hepatitis C Virus Using Lectin Affinity Plasmapheresis in Dialysis Patients," Blood Purification, Epub,
2 2011 Central-Une Associated Bloodstream Infections Report,
3 Goodman, B., "Hospital-Acquired Infections Cost
4 Gollust, S., Hull, S., Wifond, B., "Limitations of
5 Bansback, N., Sizto, S., Guh, D., Anis, A.H., "The Effect of Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Tests on Anticipated Affect and Health-Seeking Behaviors: A Pilot Survey," Genetic Testing and Molecular Biomarkers,
6 Maidhof, R., "Emerging Trends in Biological Therapy for Intervertebral Disc Degeneration," Discovery Medicine,
7 Balog, J" et al., "Intraoperative Tissue Identification Using Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry," Science Translational Medicine,
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