What Are the Top Healthcare Technologies for 2015?

Whole-room disinfection systems — which can deliver a "front-line assault" on healthcare-associated infections — are the No. 1 technology to pay attention to this year, says the ECRI Institute in its "2015 Top 10 Hospital C-Suite Watch List".

The Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based healthcare research non-profit's annual list discusses new and emerging technology that will affect health care in the coming year, as well as how best to implement them.

The institute's researchers note that disinfection robots — many of which use ultraviolet light or hydrogen peroxide to scour surfaces — could help to fight HAIs while minimizing labor costs. The robots should only be used for terminal cleaning, ECRI says in the report, and "do not obviate the need for other infection control practices."

Other technologies that made the list include 3D printing, Google Glass, minimally invasive anti-obesity devices and "middleware," software designed to reduce alarm fatigue.

ECRI says it hopes the list helps "the healthcare community to understand what to think about before adopting and implementing the next ‘new' intervention or care strategy."

Kendal Gapinski

Infection Rates Declining, But Slowly

Most healthcare-associated infections are on the decline, but they're still more prevalent than the goals the government targeted in its HAI Action Plan in 2009.

Using data from 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's progress report details HAI rates both nationally and state-by-state. Among the positive national trends:

  • SSI rates related to 10 procedures decreased 19% between 2008 and 2013.
  • C. difficile infections decreased 10% between 2011 and 2013.
  • MRSA infections decreased 8% between 2011 and 2013.

However, catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) rates increased 6% between 2009 and 2013.

In contrast, the government's 5-year targets included a 30% reduction in C. diff and 25% reductions in CAUTI, MRSA and SSIs.

Jim Burger

Help Patients Prepare for Anesthesia Care

The American Society of Anesthesiologists says most patients know little about the exact role anesthetists play in their care, beyond putting them to sleep, and need to be better informed about how they can work with providers for safer surgery and sedation.

ASA President J.P. Abenstein, MSEE, MD, says his organization is encouraging patients to learn more about the importance of asking questions and sharing information about their lifestyle, health, family history and fears about anesthesia and surgery before any procedure. But why leave it up to them? Take the lead by learning as much as possible about patients and keeping them fully informed about the entire surgical experience.

According to the ASA, you or your facility's anesthesiologists need to tell patients about who will be administering the anesthesia, including the providers' credentials and experience. During pre-op screenings, ask probing questions about patients' health histories and lifestyles in order to tailor anesthesia regimens to their specific needs. Inquiries should touch on history of diabetes, kidney disease, allergies and a list of current medications they take. Ask about potential signals of airway difficulties, including smoking habits, snoring and sedentary lifestyles.

Also get a sense of patients' mindsets as they prepare for surgery. Ask if they're afraid. It's natural to them to be apprehensive in the weeks or days leading up to procedures, but providing patients with information and feedback puts them at ease, which is a key factor in setting a positive tone for the entire surgical experience, from pre-op to PACU.

Touch on the recovery period, informing patients about how their pain will be managed and what it will take to get back to normal life routines after they're discharged home. Ask about any concerns they have and provide answers in a timely manner.

Daniel Cook

InstaPoll: How Often Do You Double Glove?

It's no secret that double gloving helps prevent surgical site infections. It's also no secret that your surgeons and staff would rather not wear 2 pairs of gloves. Tell us in this week's InstaPoll how often your OR team double-gloves.

This year's flu season has packed a pretty good punch, as evidenced by the 174 respondents to last week's poll. The results:

Rate this year's flu season.

  • Worst I can remember 23%
  • Pretty bad 40%
  • About the same as last year 17%
  • Just a few cases here and there 15%
  • We've been spared 5%

Dan O'Connor

News & Notes
  • Is surgery best for spinal stenosis? Treating spinal stenosis with physical therapy, exercise, NSAIDs and other non-surgical approaches delivers comparable outcomes to laminectomy over the long term, according to a study appearing in the January 15 issue of the journal Spine. Researchers examining data from the Spine Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT) found that while surgery seemed to deliver better results for 4 years after treatment, at the 6- to 8-year mark, its results were similar to those of more conservative interventions.
  • Joint Commission joins infection control resources Offering a one-stop shop for infection control information, the Joint Commission's Infection Prevention and Healthcare Acquired Infection Portal merges the organization's previously separate guidelines, educational materials and links to epidemiological authorities on the two subjects into a single online source.
  • Discovering steroids' secrets The discovery of the molecular pathway through which steroids combat inflammation may open the door to the development of new anti-inflammatory drugs that sidestep the harmful side effects that steroids threaten over the long term, say researchers in a recent issue of the journal Nature Communications.