Mobile stroke units, medical device cybersecurity and wireless wearable sensors lead ECRI Institute’s 2016 list of the top 10 technological advances that are poised to affect care delivery over the next 12 to 18 months.
The report highlights important new and emerging devices, drugs, procedures and care processes intended to provide new ways to deliver safe and cost-effective patient care.
ECRI’s list brings attention to MSUs, which combine specially outfitted ambulances with specialized staffing and equipment to enable stroke diagnosis and prompt treatment before transport to a hospital. The team tele-consults with a stroke neurologist, performs blood tests, takes CT scans and administers tissue plasminogen activator, when indicated.
Second on the list is cybersecurity, which has received scrutiny because of the potential of hacking medical devices, such as pacemakers.
A recent report by Forrester Research predicts that as early as this year, hackers will target medical devices for cyber extortion. GPS-enabled asthma inhalers and wearable tech-tattoos that monitor vital functions are at risk, they say. But, one expert says better candidates would be large machines like MRIs or CAT scanners — systems that directly interact with the health electronic record ().
Wireless wearable sensors are third on the list. ECRI looks into the ways that health systems can use these devices to improve cost-effectiveness and safety of patient care.
“Wearable sensors have potential to cut the cord for inpatient physiologic monitoring and can potentially provide continuous, unobtrusive monitoring pre-, intra-, and postsurgery. In outpatient settings, wearable sensors could have real-world benefits for 24/7 patient monitoring of a wide range of serious and chronic conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, epilepsy, cardiac arrhythmias, heart failure, and pressure ulcer development,” the report says.
The remaining seven topics on the list are: