It all started years ago with laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a then-new, minimally invasive procedure for removing the gallbladder. Without warning and with no discussion during budgeting, surgeons at WellSpan York Hospital in York, Pennsylvania, were suddenly requesting resources to perform this costly procedure.
“Our busy surgical staff, even though they were attending educational meetings and reading their literature, was not up-to-date on some of the information about this specific technology,” says Raymond Rosen, vice president of operations and chief operating officer.
It was not the first time the hospital was challenged by new technology requests. Rosen recalled the time when lasers were new and in demand. However, once purchased, they sat unused. “We never wanted that to happen again,” he says.
As the interest in laparoscopic surgery gained momentum, Rosen decided to engage ECRI Institute in setting up a “very formal” health technology assessment process. At the top of the list was establishing a horizon scanning process to support the hospital’s exploration of new and emerging technologies.
ECRI Institute and WellSpan York Hospital’s technology assessment committee—department chairs, service line leaders, directors of key ancillary departments, and individuals from the materials management and biomedical and pharmacy departments—put their heads together to figure out which up-and-coming technologies the hospital should keep in its sights.
Having ECRI Institute seed the process by providing unbiased research on important topics that might have significant impacts, Rosen then went to the various departments to ask, “What do you think about this?” or “How far out before you think it makes sense for us?”
Following the horizon scanning process, WellSpan physicians now present equipment requests to their peers only if the technology meets certain criteria: it must show some clinical validity and utility, exceed $50,000 in acquisition and infrastructure implications, and represent something “really new or different” that addresses an important patient need. The significance of the technology is brought to a vote, and the results inform capital strategic planning and budgeting.
In conjunction with horizon scanning, Rosen also taps into ECRI Institute’s database of up-to-date evidence reports and makes custom research requests. For example, when a staff pulmonologist became interested in bronchial thermoplasty, Rosen used ECRI Institute’s full health technology assessment report to confirm his suspicions that the technology and procedure were not appropriate for the organization.
ECRI Institute has helped WellSpan York Hospital stay ahead of the curve on new and emerging health technologies to enhance their technology decision-making process.
Learn more about ECRI Institute's Health Technology Assessment membership.