ECRI: tecnologias superiores do cuidado de saúde do C-suite a prestar atenção em 2012

por Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | January 05, 2012
High-powered MRIs, dose-lowering software for CT scanners and a possibly cheaper surgical robot. All these are among the technologies health care executives should keep an eye on in the coming year, according to a new list put out by the ECRI Institute.

The health care research nonprofit's top 10 technologies for the C-Suite in 2012, released Tuesday, examines the areas high-level executives should learn more about.

Here are a few highlights:
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Mammography goes 3-D

Last year, Hologic's Selenia Dimensions 3-D became the first breast tomosynthesis unit to be cleared by the Food and Drug Administration. This technology, previously available in Europe, involves sweeping an X-ray scanner in an arc over the breast, taking over a dozen scans, which are then reconstructed into a 3-D image.

Some researchers think the 3-D images could help radiologists spot masses that on 2-D slides would be shadowed by overlapping folds of flesh. Industry studies cited by ECRI suggest reading performance increased 7 percent with the technology, while patient callbacks dropped 30 to 40 percent.

But the technology is fairly expensive -- ECRI says Hologic's scanner costs over $400,000. It also could increase burdens on imaging servers, as the scan files are larger, and it requires staff to get extra training. Also, there's no additional reimbursement for tomosynthesis -- at least, not yet.

"Digital breast tomosynthesis is still very new and probably suitable only for sites at the leading edge of technology use and that have considerable capital and operational resources," ECRI noted. That said, other companies will probably release tomosynthesis devices in the U.S. in the next year or so. One vendor, GE Healthcare, has already announced it's seeking FDA approval for a 3-D capable add-on for its Senographe Essential equipment.

Electronic health records get more meaningful

A lot of hospitals and doctors are already going digital. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the past three years the percentage of doctors who have adopted electronic health records has doubled, jumping from 17 percent to 34 percent. Likely, many of these doctors were lured on by federal incentives, offered to practices that show "meaningful use" of EHR technology.

So far though, the early adopters have only had to meet so-called Stage 1 requirements. But Stage 2 is coming down the line, and providers that want to qualify for Medicare incentive payments will have to meet these more stringent criteria by 2014. For now, the final shape of these rules isn't entirely certain (they're expected to be released this summer), but ECRI warns that hospitals should do all they can now to make sure they're on track to meet these tougher standards.

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