Healthcare News & Insights

10 healthcare technology trends hospital execs should watch

There are several emerging medical technology trends that hospital execs should be keeping their eye on this year and beyond.

175759220ECRI Institute, a nonprofit organization designed to research the best approaches to patient care, has released a report describing 10 of the most important technologies and infrastructure changes that should be on your hospital’s radar.

While it’s not necessary for all hospitals to stretch their budgets and implement all these developments just yet, it’s a good idea to at least evaluate them and see if they’d be beneficial to your hospital down the line. Here’s the list:

1. Computer-assisted sedation systems

This technology is still in its infancy, but it has the potential to help hospitals perform certain procedures and surgeries more cost-effectively, including endoscopic GI procedures (e.g., colonoscopy).

2. Catheter-based renal denervation for treatment-resistant hypertension

Currently, the effectiveness of catheter-based renal denervation is being studied. Data about this procedure should be released this spring. Besides controlling severe cases of hypertension, the technology is in development for other medical purposes, as well.

3. Emergency departments designed just for elderly patients

The senior population is increasing, and it’ll only get larger as time goes on. Regular EDs often aren’t suited for the needs of an aging population. Creating a special section of the ED for seniors with technology such as speakers in bed pillows and large-button telephones may help hospitals serve older patients better.

4. Copper surfaces in ICUs for preventing hospital-acquired infections

Copper has been shown to have natural antimicrobial properties. Replacing common surfaces with copper fixtures may be another tool hospitals can put in their arsenal to provide high quality care and reduce their infection rates, which is key to surviving in this current healthcare climate.

5. Wearable powered exoskeleton rehabilitation for individuals with paraplegia

This rehab technology allows paralyzed patients to walk upright. While it’s fairly pricey now, lower-cost alternatives are in the works. Even with the cost, the technology’s being heralded as an effective way for patients in wheelchairs to avoid many complications that worsen their conditions. So it could be worth the price tag for certain hospitals.

6. Magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound for cancer pain

For many cancer patients, managing pain effectively is important to their recovery. Recently, magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound was approved for treating pain surrounding bone metastases. Hospitals considering this technology now would be early adopters, but the investment could pay off, as it’s being explored to treat other cancers.

7. NanoKnife® system to treat cancer

Another new cancer treatment that’s on the horizon, this product may offer hope for patients who have inoperable tumors. However, the technology isn’t yet FDA-approved to treat cancer (but it is approved for soft-tissue ablation), so hospitals considering its use must carefully weigh the pros and cons.

8. Real-time MRI adaptive radiation therapy

This development in image-guided radiation therapy uses MR images, rather than CT images, to more precisely target malignant tumors so radiation treatments can be more accurately administered, which can help lessen the degree of side effects for patients.

9. Intelligent pills to improve medication adherence and prevent readmissions

“Smart pills” are being touted as the next big thing in health care. Via a sensor, these medications offer providers real-time info about when they’re taken, as well as other health indicators. With medication adherence being traditionally low among the U.S. population, these pills may help hospitals keep patients healthy, which is crucial given the current push to avoid readmissions.

10. Big data

Specifically, this refers to the data being collected by the electronic health records (EHR) systems many hospitals have adopted over the past few years. It’s not enough to have an EHR – hospitals must be prepared to use this data to make real improvements to the well-being of their patients. Example: One hospital’s use of its EHR to screen patients for sepsis. Better analysis of this data can also help hospitals reduce inefficiencies and improve their general operations.


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