Emerging Healthcare Technology for 2016

With a new year comes emerging technology in the healthcare field. However, these new technological developments can have disadvantages. The Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) releases an annual list of emerging technologies. Many of the advances chosen by the Institute this year have a basis in “value-based care.”

Mobile Stroke Units (MSU) have been around since 2014, when the first MSU was unveiled by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School. In an effort to reduce the amount of time it takes to assess a person who has had a stroke, the MSUs are “specially-outfitted ambulances and staff members” that perform blood tests, CT scans, and TPA tests before the patient arrives at the hospital. Treating a stroke at an earlier stage can improve outcomes and limit brain damage.

With the increased of the use of telemedicine by patients, wireless wearable sensors have been developed to aid those patients that use wellness apps and devices. Many of the patients wearing these sensors participate in home health care but use telemedicine to communicate with a physician. These lightweight sensors do not consume much energy, “which allows for inexpensive and unobtrusive monitoring during daily activities at home.” One issue with this technological development is the fact that doctors may be required to learn how to navigate the app and interpret the data collected by the wireless sensors. If the wireless sensor were to malfunction, a physician could misinterpret the patient’s results.

Another recent development in healthcare technology is the miniature leadless pacemaker. These pacemakers are designed for only one heart chamber and are 10% this size of previous pacemakers. The goal with the new pacemaker design was to reduce complications that occur in 1 of 8 people with a conventional pacemaker, and these complications are frequently related to the leads. Those that received the leadless pacemakers had a lower risk of complications, even though they were “more likely to have hypertension, atrial fibrillation, valvular disease, CAD, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” Even though this new product is more effective than previous pacemaker models, they are only ideal for 15% patients that require a pacemaker, thus limiting the impact of the new technology.

Health Partners New England will use an electronic health record system in its behavioral health treatment center. Although electronic health records (EHRs) have been adopted by most hospitals, they are primarily used for physical medical care. The CEO and Health Partners New England founder, Michael P. Krupa, stated, “We believe EHRs enable just as much improvement in behavioral health as they do in acute medical care.” There will be a company to troubleshoot issues, a remote service desk, and application software support to aid in the implementation of this system for HPNE.

Kate Reynolds is currently a 2L at DePaul University College of Law. Ms. Reynolds completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois Springfield. Ms. Reynolds wishes to pursue a career in Health Law after graduating in May of 2017.​