ECRI picks top 7 health plan IT trends to watch

By Diana Manos
11:12 AM

Genetic testing and electronic medical records are top of the ECRI Institute's 2010 technology watch list for health plans.

ECRI officials said the list represents important technologies and technology-related issues that private and public payers should pay close attention to in 2010.

The trends as listed are:

  1. Genetic testing
  2. Electronic medical records
  3. Premium CT and ultra-high-field MRI
  4. Radiation oncology
  5. Robotic-assisted surgery
  6. Orthopedic physician preference items and
  7. Therapeutic hypothermia.

Officials of the Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based group said they have received questions from many payers during the past year about critical health reform issues such as comparative effectiveness, economic pressures, evidence-based patient outcomes and other considerations for evidence-based policymaking.

"In this era of healthcare reform, public and private payers and health insurers are scrutinizing costs and being forced to make tough decisions affecting patients and their own financial status," said an ECRI press release. "With an array of new technologies clamoring for attention, knowing which ones to focus on can be a challenge."

Officials at the institute, an independent nonprofit that researches the best approaches to improving patient care, said the list features "today's hottest technologies and technology-related issues spanning a variety of clinical and operational areas."

"Understanding the evidence for comparative clinical effectiveness of increasingly expensive health technologies and whether they provide better value are key issues for health plan executives and those running public programs," said Jeffrey Lerner, the institute's president and CEO.

In creating the group's first annual health plan watch list, ECRI officials said they drew upon 40 years of experience in researching the safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of health technologies and their work in comparative effectiveness and health technology assessment by a staff of clinicians, scientists and other mission- professionals. 

The white paper on the watch list can be downloaded free at



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