Stephen Heller, Director of Endoscopy, Temple University Hospital
Technology Trends in the MedTech space
Over the last years, medical technology has continued to evolve rapidly, and it has become an integral part of healthcare, today. Some of the trends expected to accelerate the industry are improved optical technology to digitalize pathology in the GI tract, advanced imaging techniques, and high-tech computer assistant visualization techniques to improve the ability to detect plague or cancer that otherwise can’t be observed by the naked eye of the endoscopist. We are also looking at infection control and are investigating on using disposable endoscopes rather than the reusable endoscopes that are currently being used.
One of the things that we have envisioned for the future is to have a computer brain that is enabled to identify polyps in the colon using digital technology and learn the data from the computer that allows us to take the human operator out of the equation. This will enable us to use AI to diagnose polyps and display it in the colon.
"Patients are going to become more sophisticated, and with all novel technologies emerging, vendors have to provide high-quality products but at a significant cost"
Disposable Medical Endoscopes: The New Trend in Healthcare
Several outbreaks of patient infections have been reported due to inadequate flexible endoscope reprocessing. We believe that incomplete cleaning of these endoscopes creates a complex channel for the industry to leverage, as this raises the issue of difficulty in cleaning. For the other endoscopes that we use more routinely such as Gastroscopes and Colonoscopes, we ensure that they are cleaned with proper disinfectant techniques such that the clinical infection is extremely low. However, it’s really a concern going forward, as extensive studies have shown that even though clinical infection may not be occurring, incomplete disinfection of these endoscopes still seeks adherence to standard high-level disinfection protocols. Thus, people are turning toward disposable endoscopes. However, we still have a long way to go in terms of adopting standard instruments to see a real sea change. In a move toward increasing equipment safety, medical device makers are now offering new disposable scopes to eliminate the source of these deadly bacteria.
Challenges Regarding Endoscopes
• To provide the same level of optical clarity, user compatibility, and user-friendliness to the operator.
• To maintain a minimal rate of infection, by dealing aggressively and carefully with the issue of endoscopic transmission infection.
• How to leverage and employ some of the new technologies that are emerging such as AI-aided colonoscopy and the increased resolution of the endoscopes as well as the potential of the disposable endoscopes and how to implement that in the practice is going to be challenging and exciting.
• Improving access to all patients as colon cancer screening is a substantial public health need among most Americans over the age of 45-50.
• The major challenge for healthcare organizations is to provide timely and safe access to colon cancer screening.
• Other challenges include cost-effectiveness—to provide safe quality care at a reasonable cost; healthcare costs continue to rise, and the population continues to age, and we are under more and more pressure to provide cost-effective care for these individuals.
Current Projects at the Temple University
One of our primary missions is to serve the urban population. Some of the issues that we are currently dealing with are community outrage, making the community understand the importance of seeking care for gastrointestinal problems and colon cancer screening. The challenges that we deal here at Temple University are related to keeping within the budgetary constraints and have our unit running as a state-of-the-art facility, having advanced equipment, and being able to provide top standard care for our patients.
Major Tasks for CIOs
One of the major tasks for CIOs today is to tackle the challenges, which exist around maintaining physical sovereignty, profitability, and increasing pressure on payers. Patients are going to become more sophisticated, and with all novel technologies emerging, vendors have to provide high-quality products but at significant cost. I think CIOs need to balance all these factors for delivering high-quality care with better access for patients to be safe, but at the same time balancing and controlling this increasingly spiraling healthcare cost.
WPiece of Advice
Spend time with your colleagues in the industry and interact with them on clinical medicine and make sure you understand the clinical challenges and the day-to-day issues that we as clinicians face. Doctors have faced many different challenges in terms of electronic prescribing; EMR may have been useful, but it also has increased documentation demand on the physician. Therefore, the essential element for CIOs is to understand their businesses’ near- and longer-term technology needs by interacting with the clinicians.