ECRI releases C-suite watchlist of top 10 hospital technology issues for 2013

'New demands for information and clinical technology are top issues for executives'
By Diana Manos
11:00 AM

Healthcare reform, accountable care organizations, readmissions and reimbursement rates are just a few of the challenges facing today's healthcare leaders, according to a new report from ECRI Institute, a non-profit evidence-based practice center.

Balancing costs and savings potential for new technologies also weighs heavily on their shoulders, the Feb. 19 report says. A new Watch List from ECRI Institute provides a roadmap to 10 technology issues that healthcare leaders should have on their radar in 2013 and beyond.

ECRI Institute's "Top 10 C-Suite Watch List: Hospital Technology Issues for 2013" reflects ongoing impacts of healthcare reform initiatives and new technology developments, according to a news release by ECRI. Some of the technologies represent significant capital investments, such as PET/MR. Others, including mobile health, metabolic surgery and low-dose computed tomography lung screening, may greatly affect operations and care patterns.

"New demands for information and clinical technology are top issues for executives and objective perspectives are critical," says Jeffrey C. Lerner, president and chief executive officer, ECRI Institute.

Hospital leaders should ask if new technology or procedures really improve patient care and make it a less costly patient-care experience, says Robert Maliff, director of applied solutions, ECRI Institute.

[See also: EHR users unhappy, many switching.]

According to ECRI's report, technology issues on this year's Watch List include:

  • electronic health records
  • mobile health
  • alarm integration technology
  • minimally invasive cardiac surgery
  • imaging and surgery
  • PET/MR
  • bariatric surgery
  • supply chain
  • radiation dose safety
  • lung cancer screenings

The study found that most hospitals and eligible providers have been hurrying to certify that their electronic health record (EHR) systems meet the criteria of Stage 1 meaningful use, and they are now sprinting toward Stage 2 requirements.

According to the report: "This will certainly go a long way to improve how patient information is shared; however, in the rush to get meaningful use monies, did hospitals and eligible providers forget about patient safety?"

In any analysis of HIT safety, hospital leaders should ask the following questions, among many others, say ECRI officials:

  • If we have implemented all these programs to improve care, have we made real progress?
  • Do we know how many alerts are being rejected or ignored?
  • Do we investigate wrong-patient identification?
  • Have we experienced any automatic stoppage of medication that was initiated by a HIT application rather than by a doctor's orders?

[See also: Hospital survival 101.]

These are just a few of the real-world dangers that ECRI Institute has reviewed, and what ECRI researchers say they are finding is that HIT has introduced a whole new set of problems to patient safety. These include clinician failure to save the entered data, data corruption, use of improper

"Until a few years ago, mobile health technologies did not exist," the report reads. "Healthcare providers were tethered to computers and had to go to the office to access information. mHealth technologies have the potential to cut costs and increase efficiency. However, very little supporting evidence exists outlining exactly how much money can be saved by improving mobile device technology in healthcare." The lack of supporting evidence is the main reason for the slow adoption of these new mobile technologies.

Read the full study here.