Next year’s most successful medical technologies will do more for less.
Cleveland Clinic has announced its top 10 medical technology innovations for 2013, and they’re all about improving the efficiency of healthcare.
The takeaway for medical device designers: To be successful in 2013, medical technologies will need to do more for less.
“The challenge for device innovators is going to be coming up with devices that both have a healthcare benefit but also a demonstrable cost lowering effect,” says Chris Coburn, executive director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations, the corporate venturing arm of the Ohio medical center.
Promising technologies for next year include innovations that address chronic diseases, improve diagnosis, treat conditions less invasively, and reduce patients’ dependence on drugs.
“There’s an emphasis on technologies that allow things to get done quicker and at less cost,” Coburn says.
One example included in the list is handheld optical scanning for melanoma, which helps dermatologists diagnose this deadly skin cancer without even making a cut. The device uses computer algorithms to analyze an image of a suspicious mole or spot and compare it with images of melanoma and other skin conditions stored in a database—all in less than a minute. The technology detected 98% of the melanomas in a recent clinical trial.
“Early assessment and getting these patients on the path to care should result in better outcomes, ideally bending the cost curve down,” Coburn says.
Bariatric surgery for diabetes is also expected to be a healthcare game-changer next year. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine this year showed that gastric bypass surgery can rid patients of Type II diabetes or at least reduce their dependence on diabetes medication for at least two years.
Another technology included in the list that could reduce the need for long-term drug therapy is neuromodulation for cluster and migraine headaches.
“There’s been an increase in migraine episodes…and the only way to address them had been through relatively unsatisfactory drug regimen,” Coburn says.
Neuromodulation therapy involves the minimally invasive implantation of a small neurostimulator in the upper gum. The device, which is remotely controlled by the patient, delivers on-demand stimulation to the sphenopalatine ganglion nerve, a technique that has been shown to alleviate headaches. Coburn says the simplicity of the implantation procedure and the lack of adverse side effects means doctors will consider neuromodulation therapy at the same time they’re considering prescribing drugs for patients suffering from migraines.
“In comparison to years and years of drug therapy, it’s a bargain,” he says.
Other innovations that made the list are:
The top 10 medical technology innovations list is compiled annually based on interviews with Cleveland Clinic staff from a variety of medical specialties. It highlights the innovations they predict will have the biggest impact on healthcare over the coming year. Nominations must show a clinical impact and patient benefit, have high probability of commercial success, show a human interest element, and be available on the market in 2013.
—Jamie Hartford is the managing editor of MD+DI.