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10 Technologies for Hospital C-suites to Watch

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media, May 12, 2009

5. Radiation Oncology. Proton therapy is becoming more available to hospitals nationwide—a commercially available single room proton therapy system is on the horizon at a cost of $20 million. So how important is it for hospitals to be able to offer the "most advanced" radiation technology, and will proton therapy live up to all the hype? Medicare has listed proton therapy as one of its top 10 priorities this year, and it will be taking a close look at its effectiveness to determine what its coverage may be, according to the report.

6. Radio-Frequency Identification Technology. There is a lot of promise surrounding RFID—it can improve patient safety, efficiency, and save money—however the return on investment can oftentimes be difficult to track. Senior leaders should focus on "tracking medical devices that are critically needed but often in short supply because of hoarding or bottlenecks in handling between uses," the report says.

7. Alarm Integration Technologies. Effectively managing and responding to patient alarms is a serious challenge for hospitals. According to the FDA's Maude database, 150 deaths related to physiologic monitoring alarms occurred from 2002 to 2004. A complex alarm integration system that incorporates many alarms like physiologic monitors, ventilators, infusion devices, and medical telemetry can help enhance alarm notification and coverage by notifying a clinician's wireless device, for example.

8. Hybrid Operating Rooms.Having a room where a patient can undergo open-heart surgery, as well as, angioplasty that requires fluoroscopic imaging can help improve outcomes because they do not have to be moved between two sterile rooms. Senior leaders will need to determine whether their organization has sufficient cardiovascular and neurosurgical procedures to justify a new $800,000 C-arm system and how many operating rooms should have that imaging capability. Leaders should also prepare for turf battles that may erupt between surgeons and interventional radiologists.

9. Therapeutic Hypothermia after Heart Attack, Stroke, Spinal Cord Injury.There is a lot of promise in technologies that can rapidly cool a patients' core temperatures after a life-threatening cardiovascular and neurologic event. Therapeutic hypothermia, which uses a special intravenously administered slurry to rapidly cool a patient, has shown to contain and prevent damage to the heart and brain. Hospitals that do not have a TH protocol in place for patients who have suffered cardiac arrest should consider implementing one as a standard of care for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in patients who have an initial rhythm of ventricular fibrillation, the report says.

10. Rapid Tests for Deadly Infections. With Medicare and third-party payers refusing to pay for healthcare-acquired infections, hospitals and other healthcare facilities should look at their infection control protocols and figure out where rapid tests that give results in two hours rather than the 48 hours fit into their infection-control guidelines, the report says.

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Carrie Vaughan is a senior editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at cvaughan@healthleadersmedia.com.

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