The current special issue of Technology and Innovation - Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors, devoted to studies on medical technology and health care delivery, focuses on a wide range of topics, from new technologies to reduce the cost of health care to understanding the human microbiome.
"This special issue of Technology and Innovation on transformative health care technologies truly explores new frontiers where technology and health care cross," said Dr. Paul R. Sanberg, senior vice president for Research & Innovation at the University of South Florida and president of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). "The pioneering researchers who contributed to this issue are leading us into a new era in health that promises to be more efficacious, less expensive and as personal as an individual's health data, microbes and brain cells."
Automated Educational Intervention reduces prescription and hospital costs
A study into the effectiveness of a program to analyze prescription data launched in Missouri in 2003 by Care Management Technologies (CMT), found that physicians who received educational intervention about their patients' prescriptions ultimately helped reduce the costs of care for their Medicaid patients with schizophrenia.
"Pharmacy costs were growing 15 percent annually, and the greatest growth was in psychotropic drugs," says study lead author John P. Docherty of Care Management Technologies, Inc., Weill Cornell Medical College. The study analyzed the CMT program's ability to determine, from prescription data from 2002 to 2005, the deviations from best practices that could increase pharmacy and service costs for a Medicaid subset of patients (173,609) with schizophrenia. According to Docherty and his co-authors, by one year later the intervention program resulted in cost reductions for an estimated 6,310 patients with schizophrenia.
Creating health outcomes indices
There is no widely accepted metric that accurately and timely measures the burden of disease or tracks health status or health system performance through the use of real-world patient data, according to lead author Efthimios Parasidis of Global Health Outcomes, Inc., and co-authors.
"We aim to fill this gap through creating 'health outcomes indices' (HOIs)," explains Parasidis. "By accurately tracking patient outcomes over time, HOIs provide health care stakeholders with a valuable tool with which to measure, assess and predict health outcomes."
According to Parasidis, creating HOIs is dependent on a three-phase framework by which multiple data sources - 'real world' patient data, key drivers of patient outcomes, and identification of outcome variables - are analyzed to judge the impact of new therapies and justify the allocation of health care dollars.
"Paramount to the long-term fiscal challenges [of health care] is how to manage rising costs without adversely affecting health outcomes," note the authors. "The HOI model seeks to fill this gap by providing stakeholders with a valuable tool to measure, compare and predict health outcomes."
The Microbiome and us
Dr. William A. Peck, director of the Center for Health Policy at the Washington University School of Medicine says in "The Microbiome: A Mediator of Human Wellness," that an understanding the human microbiome - the tens of trillions of microbes inhabiting our bodies - has expanded dramatically through the use of advanced technologies that have increased the mounting evidence of the microbiome's role in human health and disease.
Advanced technologies, particularly culture independent DNA sequencing and computational analytics have been valuable, according to Peck. An innovative research technology called "highly parallel DNA sequencing" allows for simultaneous analysis for standardized data across multiple samples. What additional research may tell us about the function and benefits of the microbiome is critical to future health care, he says.
"Additional research on microbiome manipulations may well yield novel preventive strategies and treatments," Peck concludes.