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10 Hospital Technologies to Watch Carefully

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 9, 2012

Here is the ECRI's list of the top 10, derived at by the institute's expert consensus:

1. Electronic Health Records
ECRI's experts say that medical device integration is necessary to merge patient care device data into the EHR, either directly or indirectly through an intermediary system, often called medical device integration. This requires clinical engineering and IT staff to work together, and typically, the report says, no single person understands both.

"Most hospitals lack access to the necessary information for medical device integration, such as having a complete inventory of medical devices that use the network, their associated IP addresses, and the firmware and software versions in use, to start," the report says.

Integration is necessary to achieve Stage 2 certification criteria for Meaningful Use, necessary for hospitals to receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act incentive payments.

2. Minimally Invasive Bariatric Surgery
A slew of emerging technologies make surgery for the obese much easier, much less invasive, with shorter lengths of stay and fewer infections, with increasing evidence that long-term weight loss and reduction in diabetes symptoms can result.

However, hospitals that launch such programs must have interdisciplinary services such as specialized nursing and dietary instruction, counseling and exercise training. They need to invest in special equipment such as patient lifts, laparoscopic instrumentation, fluoroscopic imaging tools. Moreover, hospitals must appreciate the need for clinician training for new and emerging procedures.

One new approach that has gained traction is the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, which alters the stomach but not the intestines, the paper says. "While this procedure does not shift existing bariatric services, it may not help your bottom line because many payers do not reimburse for it because the quality of available evidence on efficacy thus far is low." Another emerging approach is "gastric plication," now being tested by the Cleveland Clinic.

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