Skip Navigation LinksHistory

Nearly 50 years ago a small group of young, idealistic people joined together with a shared desire—more like an obsession—to seek meaningful improvements in patient care.

And so, ECRI was born.

Today, we are a lot bigger and some of us are a tad older, but what remains constant is our commitment to continue to search for ways to help our members and clients help your patients. 

Early years

1968—Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI) formally began operation focusing on research in emergency medicine, resuscitation, and related biomedical engineering studies. The Institute’s first evaluation of 18 brands of manually operated resuscitators found nine to be ineffective and started ECRI as an independent evaluator and provider of medical-device-related information and guidance.

Early 1970s—Adopted the acronym ECRI as the organization broadened its work beyond emergency care.

1971—Published the first monthly issue of our journal, Health Devices, which provided valuable medical equipment evaluations, technology management guidance, and hazard reports.

1972—Transitioned to a testing and publishing organization with virtually no federal funding.

1973—Testified at the U.S. Senate Hearings on the proposed Medical Device Amendment. In thanking ECRI Institute president Joel J. Nobel, MD, for his testimony, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy commented, “Yours is a unique organization that has done an extraordinary amount of work in this area. It is the only one of its kind, I believe, and you are one of the pioneers in this area. We value very highly your testimony….”

1974—Developed and operated the largest shared clinical engineering program providing inspection, preventive maintenance, and service support to 130 hospitals.

Transition to health services research

1968 to 1980—ECRI Institute concentrated on medical equipment evaluation, accident investigation, consultation, and other device-related activities. We established the first medical device problem reporting system and earned our reputation for independent and objective studies and judgment by paralleling the model of Consumer Reports.

1981—Launched the Healthcare Risk Control System, a membership service that helped make ECRI Institute a leader in providing guidance and information to healthcare facilities and insurance companies seeking help with patient safety, risk, and quality management.

1982—ECRI Institute began our earliest healthcare technology assessment and publishing program. SELECTplus® provides customized reports that recommend equipment purchases and related budgeting and financial judgment. Health Devices publishes “Pre-use Checklists for Anesthesia Units (Machines and Accessories)” advocating the use of medical checklists.

1993—ECRI Institute’s Health Technology Assessment Information Service (HTAIS) was developed and accepted as the gold standard for health technology assessment, providing comprehensive and objective information on the safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of all types of healthcare technology.

1997—Designated an Evidence-based Practice Center by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

1997—Worked behind the scenes to remove obstacles to medical device problem reporting that had been quietly slipped into the original 1990 Safe Medical Devices Act (SMDA) at the last minute.

Late 1990s—New online products were launched, including Health Devices Gold, Health Devices International Sourcebase, Healthcare Standards Directory Online, and others.  

Gaining international recognition 

1987—The World Health Organization (WHO) designated ECRI Institute as a Collaborating Center in recognition of the Institute’s achievements in advancing the safety and cost-effectiveness of patient care. In 2003, ECRI Institute’s terms of reference expanded to include patient safety, healthcare technology, and risk management.

1990—Developed the Center for Healthcare Environmental Management (CHEM), an international membership organization dedicated to providing continuing education and professional accreditation for the healthcare safety and environmental manager.

Early 1990s—Opened regional offices in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. Expanded our international activities with consulting projects for hospitals, health systems, and government agencies in Australia, Bahrain, Cameroon, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Oman, Panama, Peru, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

1993—ECRI Institute implemented an International Healthcare Technology Assessment database, supported in part by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Clearinghouse development

1998-2001—ECRI Institute was awarded federal contract to develop and maintain the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (1998) and the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™ (2001) websites for AHRQ.

National Patient Library

1990s—The first Patient Reference Guide, High-Dose Chemotherapy with Bone Marrow Transplant and/or Stem Cell Transplant for Metastatic Breast Cancer, was published as part of ECRI Institute's goal for a National Patient Library™.

2002—The second patient reference guide used an evidence-base to help answer the question Should I Enter a Clinical Trial?

2006—Developed and launched the Bulimia Nervosa Resource Guide for family and friends: www.bulimiaguide.org.

The 21st Century

2001—ECRI Institute’s founder, Joel J. Nobel, MD, turned his attention to developing and managing the organization's presence in Asia and the Middle East. Jeffrey C. Lerner, PhD, was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer. Anthony Montagnolo, MS, was appointed Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President. Ronni Solomon, JD, was selected Executive Vice President and General Counsel.

2004—Awarded contract from Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to develop and implement the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, the first independent statewide mandatory adverse event and near-miss reporting system.

2007—Launched a rebranding campaign which included a new logo and renaming of our organization to ECRI Institute with the tagline: The Discipline of Science. The Integrity of Independence.

2008—Celebrated 40 years of not resting on our laurels.

View our 40th Anniversary Video

Our 40th Anniversary Movie

Check out this video in honor of our 40th anniversary Length: 6:14.

Play

2008—ECRI Institute Patient Safety Organization (PSO) was among the first ten organizations to be officially listed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a federal Patient Safety Organization (PSO) under the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005.

2010—Awarded a contract from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to establish a National Healthcare Horizon Scanning System to identify, track, and monitor new healthcare technologies that signal changes in patient care, health outcomes, or the healthcare system. 

2014—Convenes The Partnership for Promoting Health IT Patient Safety, a private sector initiative that aims to develop an effective national framework for assuring patient safety in health IT through a collaborative multi-stakeholder effort. 

2015—Launches TruVu™,  a visual, interactive tool that accelerates complex decision making by engaging stakeholders in an unbiased, transparent process designed to support cost, quality, and outcomes initiatives.

2016—Launches ECRIgene™​, ​a genetic test resource to guide evidence-based clinical policy and utilization decisions including a dynamic database of genetic tests and their key characteristics, evidence reports, and expert consults.

Recognition

2010—The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History accepted our donation of a prototype medical emergency crash cart, referred to as MAX. The cart was designed and patented by ECRI Institute’s founder, Joel J. Nobel, MD, while he was a surgical resident at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Hospital in 1965.

2011—ECRI Institute is recognized as one of the top 33 medical innovations in Philadelphia since 1751 in a special timeline of Philadelphia-area medical innovations.

2012—Modern Healthcare and ECRI Institute launch first online Technology Price Index, a monthly snapshot of prices paid for capital and supply items based on aggregated data from ECRI Institute member facilities.

2013—Named a 2013 Top Workplace by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly.com

2014—Jeffrey C. Lerner, PhD, ECRI Institute’s president and CEO, is listed by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of Top 50 Experts Leading the Field of Patient Safety--2014.

2014—Joel J. Nobel, MD, founder and president emeritus passes away at age 79.

2015—Joel J. Nobel, MD, founder and president emeritus, wins two posthumous awards: The ACCE HTM Champion 2015 Award and the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Key Award from the Philadelphia Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Both awards honored Joel for achievements related to technology management.