Horizon Scanning

ECRI’s Horizon Scanning services have been keeping up with new and emerging technologies, procedures, treatment models, and care delivery to help define the future of healthcare

A monitoring system to identify future opportunities or threats

ECRI’s horizon scanning efforts enable healthcare decision makers to stay informed about new and emerging technologies, innovations, and trends occurring across healthcare. We use a systematic scanning process to scan for and identify potentially disruptive innovations up to three years before clinical availability outside of the research environment. The horizon scanning team evaluates each innovation's potential to impact patient and population health outcomes, health disparities, health care costs, infrastructure needs, and many other factors to detect signals of the innovation's potential to disrupt—positively or negatively—the current state of healthcare.

ECRI has a proven track record performing horizon scanning on a national level, first, under contract with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and currently for The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Our work is now expanding to perform horizon scanning on a global scale.

Why is this work so important?
The purpose of horizon scanning is to detect future positive disruptions (opportunities) and negative disruptions (threats) before they occur. The research community can use the data generated by horizon scanning to inform its current research priorities and more effectively, focus on important future developments in healthcare. Healthcare systems, facilities, and payers can use horizon scanning outputs to make intelligent, evidence-based investments in the present to avoid future threats and embrace opportunities likely to impact their various interests. Patients and caregivers can also benefit by staying informed of new developments in healthcare.

International focus and support

International Horizon Scanning Initiative (IHSI)

As an expert in developing technology solutions and evidence-based guidance to healthcare decision-makers worldwide, ECRI is shaping healthcare of the future by identifying breakthrough innovations that show high potential to disrupt the global market.

Our independence and ability to use data science, machine learning, and technology to assist its horizon scanning efforts are now extending to the international marketplace. Through a new contract awarded in 2021 by the multi-nation, International Horizon Scanning Initiative (IHSI), ECRI will begin developing the first large-scale international horizon scanning database of new and promising pharmaceutical products.

ECRI will develop, curate, and maintain a database of pharmaceuticals expected to enter the European market within the next two and a half years. The horizon scanning team will analyze these data to create High Impact Reports, providing critical insights into which new medications show potential to disrupt healthcare in the European member countries. The work will provide assurance to stakeholders involved in decision-making processes for the pricing and reimbursement of pharmaceuticals.

To learn more about this new, large-scale global initiative, view our press release.

National project overview

PCORI Health Care Horizon Scanning System

ECRI performs groundbreaking work on the PCORI Health Care Horizon Scanning System. This work informs key stakeholders about potentially disruptive healthcare treatments (drugs and medical devices) expected to be clinically available in the United States within three years. Research monitors innovations for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, cancer, cardiovascular disease, mental and behavioral health disorders, and rare diseases.

ECRI developed, curates, and maintains the freely available PCORI Horizon Scanning Database. Through the horizon scanning process, multiple stakeholders (e.g., physicians, nurses, health systems professionals, researchers, patients, caregivers) provide input into the disruptive potential of the identified innovations. ECRI's horizon scanning team analyzes these inputs to create High Potential Disruption Reports, which provide critical patient-centered insights into the potential future of healthcare.

In 2020, PCORI expanded ECRI’s project scope to address potentially impactful applications for COVID-19. Focus includes supporting the delivery of biweekly COVID-19 scans, consisting of timely reporting on important, fast-moving, COVID-19-related topics of interest for PCORI and the public.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) landmark horizon scanning initiative

In 2010, under contract to AHRQ, ECRI created and began operating the first, large-scale U.S. healthcare horizon scanning system intended to inform comparative-effectiveness research investments made through AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program.

Over the term of the five-year project, ECRI identified and monitored more than 2500 interventions, produced 20 status reports, and 10 semi-annual High Impact Reports detailing interventions likely to have the highest impact.

Key stakeholders for horizon scanning services

  • Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industries
  • Healthcare Payers and Providers (including ECRI members)
  • Public & Private U.S. Agencies & Grantees
  • International Ministries of Health and Healthcare Agencies
  • Patients and Caregivers

How to join | Working together to shape healthcare

We welcome physicians, nurses, patients, and caregivers to get involved by reading our brief reports about new treatments that have the potential to change healthcare and commenting on how they might be disruptive.

If you have knowledge of or experience with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, mental and behavioral health conditions, and rare diseases, including genetic and pediatric illnesses, we encourage you to contact us to get involved.

Horizon scanning to help you stay informed

Have a question about horizon scanning?
Contact clientservices@ecri.org to learn more.