ECRI Cautions Hospitals About Tech Hype

Cheryl Clark, February 12, 2014

Independent research from the non-profit ECRI Institute aims to distinguish between must-have hospital technologies and manufacturer hype.

A device that allows untrained nurses to sedate colonoscopy patients without an anesthesiologist, hospital gowns woven with infection-fighting copper, and oral drugs embedded with sensors are among the emerging technologies senior executives may be pressured to bring into their hospitals and healthcare systems.

But the 2014 edition of the ECRI Institute's annual "Top 10 Hospital C-Suite Watch List" aims to distinguish between must-have technologies and hype.

The Pennsylvania-based non-profit group conducts independent research to verify manufacturers' claims, regulatory compliance, and any emerging safety or efficacy issues associated with emerging technologies, especially those that cost a lot of money.

"These technologies are worthwhile to look at, but hospitals need to think about how they [would have to] make necessary changes to implement them," says Robert Maliff, ECRI's director of applied solutions.

1. Sedasys Computer-Assisted Sedation System
Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2013, the Sedasys system from Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc. purports to allow "non-anesthesiologist clinicians" to replace more expensive nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologists in administering sedation, specifically propofol, for millions of endoscopic procedures such as colonoscopy.

This could save the healthcare system $160 million in 2015, the manufacturer says.

Evidence of efficacy, however, is based on a single manufacturer-sponsored trial of 1,000 patients during routine procedures, which showed that many patients were deeply sedated, which "may elevate the risk of cardiopulmonary complications such as interrupted breathing."

"Concerns remain about procedure risks," the ECRI report says.

2. Symplicity Catheter-based Renal Denervation Device for Hypertension
In use only in Europe, but expected in the U.S. next year, Medtronic, Inc.'s device called Symplicity would treat hypertension and sleep apnea, which are associated with high morbidity and mortality.


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