Cleveland Clinic's top 10 healthcare innovations of past 10 years

Top 10 innovations predicted for 2016 to be unveiled Oct. 28
By Bernie Monegain
05:40 AM
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Cleveland Clinic

As the 2015 Medical Innovations Summit marks its 10th year when it opens Sunday at the Cleveland Convention Center, an advisory panel of Cleveland Clinic doctors helped to compile a Top 10 list of the top medical innovations of the past 10 years.

No worries: Cleveland Clinic is not forgoing its 10-year tradition of predicting the Top 10 MedIcal Innovations for the coming year. As tradition dictates, those will be unveiled at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28, the summit's final day.

[See also: Cleveland Clinic's 10 innovation picks.]

Here are the picks for the most transformative innovations of the past decade:

1.  Harnessing big data to improve healthcare (2011)

As predicted in 2011, big data has become big business as American hospitals adopt electronic medical records. Researchers are using computers to analyze those records to spy disease patterns, discover cures and identify best treatment practices.

Companies such as IBM are diving deep into the game, expanding their offering of healthcare analytics. Meanwhile, new wearable devices collect even more health data to be crunched and acted upon.

According to a recent study by IQ4I Research and Consultancy, spending on data analytics in healthcare will grow by more than 40 percent over the next four years to become a $20 billion global market.

[See also: Cleveland Clinic makes analytics available.]

2.  New Era in Hepatitis C Treatment (2014)

There are an estimated 170 million people worldwide infected with Hepatitis C, an often undetected virus that causes slow, progressive damage to the liver. For decades, interferon-based treatments produced low success rates. But new, interferon-free treatments have proven much more effective, giving doctors hope that the disease could be eradicated.

3.  Bariatric Surgery for Control of Diabetes (2013)

This innovation offers hope for fighting a chronic and debilitating disease that afflicts millions. Studies of the long-term effectiveness of bariatric surgery to control diabetes have found that after a five-year follow-up, more than half of Type II diabetes patients had either complete or partial remission.

4.  Percutaneous Aortic Heart Valves (2008)

This alternative to open-heart surgery is now the standard treatment for many high-risk cardiac patients.

Using a catheter, a doctor inserts a wire mesh valve through an artery and into the heart, where it pops open and replaces the damaged valve. There are four aortic valve devices FDA approved for percutaneous repair or replacement, and the technology is expanding to percutaneous mitral valve repair, with some devices seeking FDA approval this year.

5.  New Strategies for Creating Vaccines for Fighting Flu (2009)

A new vaccine strategy not only defended against a deadly flu virus, it helped healthcare workers confront pandemics. Researchers used a mock version of the bird flu virus, called a virus-like particle, or VLP, to ward off avian flu. Because they do not require a live virus, VLP-based vaccines are easier and faster to produce. They allow public health authorities to respond more swiftly to alarming infections. In 2014, scientists began using VLP strategies to develop an Ebola vaccine, which is expected to be ready in 2016.

6.  Checkpoint Inhibitors (2015)

In 2014, Cleveland Clinic doctors spied the potential of immune checkpoint inhibitors, new tools in the fight against cancer. Since then, three immune checkpoint inhibitors have been approved for use in patients with melanoma, creating sales of over $1.5 billion in 2014, and one has been granted priority review for use in lung cancer patients. Additionally, there are more than 80 companies researching 148 immune checkpoint inhibitors associated with various cancers, with 10 in the last phase of clinical trials.

7.  PCSK9 Inhibitors for Cholesterol Reduction (2015)

This new class of cholesterol-reducing drugs recently received FDA approval. Doctors are ready to prescribe it to 17 percent of their patients with dangerously high LDL levels, potentially creating a $3 billion market.

8.  Dual Energy Source Computed Tomography, CT, Imaging (2008)

The Dual Energy Source Computed Tomography Imaging features two X-ray sources and two radiation detectors, which allow for faster imaging of patients and with less radiation. The new speed allows doctors to image patients with high or irregular heart rates, something that had been more difficult. Clinicians are applying this technology to vascular imaging, CT colonography and some types of cancer.

Said Michael Roizen, MD, the chief wellness officer at Cleveland Clinic: "Now you can get a scan that used to take a couple of hours in the time it takes to get a cup of coffee."

9.  Retinal Prosthesis (2014)

Retinal prostheses have now been successfully implanted into more than 130 patients around the world and are beginning to be tested for other patients who are blind due to a variety of diseases other than retinitis pigmentosa. Positive, long-term study results published in early 2015 affirm novel improvement in these patients' quality of life and independence.

10.  Genome Guided Solid Tumor Diagnosis (2014)

With continuing research, genomic tests are now available for various types of cancer, including melanoma and cancers of the brain, lung, thyroid and pancreas. Multiple clinical trials are ongoing to evaluate the efficacy of integrating genomic-driven tumor testing, with databases compiling data to compare treatment options based on genomics rather than cancer type. By 2016, this growing field of genome-guided tumor diagnostics has an expected market value of $26 billion.

[See also: Researchers have instant access to 1000 Genomes Project.]