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ECRI Cautions Hospitals About Tech Hype

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, February 12, 2014

ECRI advises hospitals that adopt the technology at this early stage should "plan fundraising initiatives to support acquisition, maintenance, and training," but be on the lookout for newer products because "this technology is quickly evolving.

6. MRI-Guided, Focused Ultrasound for Bone Pain Reduction
Several hundred thousand patients with cancer such as breast and prostate develop extreme pain from metastases to bone, which this technology, the ExAblate at a cost of between $750,000 and $1.5 million, seeks to reduce.

However, "the body of evidence of its effectiveness for bone pain is small and limited by lack of comparative evidence to other options at this time," the ECRI report says.

The reimbursement climate is poor, with major health plans listing the device as investigational.

7. The NanoKnife System
The NanoKnife system purports to reach hard-to-access tumors and avert complications associated with other ablation techniques. But ECRI says this technology is another one "that may be diffusing before its time." It requires a major investment, and has no FDA approved indications for treatment.

Organizations that want to use it should restrict application to "ongoing FDA-approved investigational device exemption trials" or others that compare the NanoKnife to other options, ECRI advises.

8. Simultaneous MRI and Radiation
The ViewRay system is a cancer treatment option that combines a way to visualize a tumor with magnetic resonance imaging while radiating it, allowing "on-the-fly" changes to target size and dose.

The system "theoretically holds promise," and received FDA approval in May of 2012. But, with a price tag of $8 million and $500,000 per year in maintenance costs, "ECRI Institute cautions health systems to curb enthusiasm for now."

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