The institute included hybrid PET/MRI scanners on its annual list of technologies for hospital executives to monitor in 2013. While several of the technologies cited on the Top 10 C-Suite Watch List have appeared in previous years, much of the focus this year is on the economic impact of new technology on hospital margins.
“Technology has to be quality-enhancing,” Maliff said. “Is it also cost-reducing? … Does it really improve patient care and make it a less costly patient-care experience?”
MRI-compatible pacemakers are another example of a technology that requires hospitals to compare the additional costs with the benefits.
The device costs $1,300 more than a standard pacemaker, is reimbursed under the same rate as standard pacemakers and puts physicians in a position to predict which patients will need future MRI scans. They can also be used only with older MRI systems at a time when some hospitals are acquiring the newer and more expensive 3T MRI systems.
“Hospital margins are very tight and very thin,” Maliff said. “Technology like this, which can really impact cost, without a change in reimbursement, can really impact a hospital.”
However, for patients who are likely to need MRIs in the future, the new pacemakers may prevent additional risks. Patients with standard pacemakers who undergo MRI scans could face adverse events, such as changes in pacing or interference with pacemaker operations.
In its report, the ECRI Institute said: “So how does a cardiologist (and the hospital where the procedure is performed) determine whether the patient gets a more expensive MR-conditional device or the routine one, regardless of the cost difference between the device models?”