Predicting the value of emerging health technologies

February 16, 2015 in Medical Technology

Gauging the future impact of emerging healthcare technologies can be tricky. A recent case study from ECRI Institute seeks to assess the accuracy of its crystal ball gazing.

[See also: ECRI analysis reveals HIT problems]

Published in Health Affairs, the ECRI report applied retrospective case review of its own forecasts on new healthcare advancements. It found that 75 percent of its early predictions were still sound when those technologies eventually reached routine clinical care.

The study compared early stage predictions with updated ones, made after technologies became commonplace, clinically.

[See also: ECRI names top 10 healthcare tech dangers]

Health technology forecasting aims to offer reliable insights about possible impacts of new technologies before they’re ready to be used in clinical care, according to ECRI – which looked at three big questions:

  • Are early forecasts accurate enough to help care providers acquire the most promising technologies (and for payers to set effective coverage policies)?
  • What contributes to inaccurate forecasts?
  • How can forecasters manage those variables to improve the accuracy of their predictions?

ECRI examined forecasts it published between 2007 and 2010 on four technologies, and also updates published in late 2013 and 2014.

Topics included single-room proton beam radiation therapy for various cancers; digital breast tomosynthesis imaging technology for breast cancer screening; transcatheter aortic valve replacement for serious heart valve disease; and minimally invasive robot-assisted surgery for various cancers.

Researchers found that 15 of 20 early predictions about the four technologies were accurate when compared with the updated forecasts. The inaccuracies pertained to two technologies that had more time-sensitive variables to consider.

“We examined revised ECRI forecasts to identify inaccuracies in the earlier forecasts and explored why they occurred,” said ECRI Institute President and CEO Jeffrey C. Lerner, in a press statement.

“We found that frequent revision of forecasts could improve accuracy, especially for complex technologies whose eventual use signals a paradigm shift in clinical care for a disease,” he added. “We were surprised that so few forecasters examine their own work, and we hope this initial self-evaluation leads to increasingly robust, independent efforts.”

Access the full report, Case Studies on Forecasting for Innovative Technologies: Frequent Revisions Improve Accuracy, at Health Affairs.

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