App-connected pacemakers, telehealth boom among Cleveland Clinic’s top innovations for 2021

Dive Brief: The Cleveland Clinic has named four medtech developments to its annual top 10 list […]

Dive Brief:

  • The Cleveland Clinic has named four medtech developments to its annual top 10 list of medical innovations.
  • In a statement Tuesday, the academic medical center identified smartphone-connected pacemaker devices, a noninvasive form of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy for newborns, and a vacuum-induced uterine tamponade device —​ plus increased access to telemedicine — among its top 10 breakthroughs for 2021.
  • Cleveland Clinic selected the medtech products in the belief they will be widely adopted in the coming year and have a significant clinical impact.

Dive Insight:

Medical technology keeps popping up on the Cleveland Clinic roundups that largely feature important drug therapies.

Medtech highlights from past versions of the annual list include the expanded use of minimally invasive mitral valve surgery, closed-loop spinal cord stimulation, and antibiotic envelopes for cardiac implantable device infection prevention for 2020. The prior year featured patient-specific 3D-printed medical devices, mitral and tricuspid valve percutaneous replacement and repair, and, broadly, innovation in robotic surgery and the advent of AI in healthcare.

Each year, the team behind the top 10 list interviews nearly 100 people at the Cleveland Clinic to generate a longlist of 150 innovations. A committee then vets the list to pick the 10 products that best fit the selection criteria, which emphasize both the evidence that an intervention will benefit patients and the likelihood that it will be widely used by healthcare providers.

This year, Cleveland Clinic named smartphone-connected pacemaker devices as its top medtech innovation for 2021.

Medtronic became the first company to introduce a mobile app that communicates directly with a smartphone-connected pacemaker early last year. The app, MyCareLink Heart, eliminates the need for patients to use a dedicated bedside monitor to transmit data from their pacemakers and enables patients to view information about their devices’ batteries and the success of data uploads.

Cleveland Clinic, which quoted data from a Medtronic study in a video to accompany the top 10 list, sees pacemaker mobile apps improving adherence to remote monitoring and giving patients greater insight into their health data.

Bubble CPAP for increased lung function in premature babies is the next medtech innovation on the list. Physicians have used continuous positive airway pressure as an alternative to mechanical ventilation in infants for decades. There is also many years of experience of using the bubble form of CPAP, which entails putting the expiratory tube in water to oscillate the air pressure.

The selection of bubble CPAP as a top innovation follows the publication of data on the use of the intervention by Cleveland Clinic physicians. The retrospective study linked the use of bubble CPAP in infants to a lower rate of chronic lung disease.

Cleveland Clinic’s third medtech selection, telemedicine, is another idea that has been around for years. However, the medical center has specifically called out increased access to telemedicine through novel practice and policy changes as the breakthrough for 2021. The selection reflects changes implemented by state and federal regulators since the start of the pandemic to improve access to remote care.

The final medtech product in the top 10 is vacuum-induced uterine tamponade for the excessive bleeding that can occur after childbirth. The bleeding, known as postpartum hemorrhage, can drive surgeons to perform emergency hysterectomies. The vacuum-induced uterine tamponade device is a non-surgical, minimally invasive intervention designed to treat the condition by collapsing the uterus, causing the inner walls to compress bleeding vessels.

Cleveland Clinic was involved in a study of Alydia Health’s Jada System, details of which were published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology last month. The study found the vacuum-induced hemorrhage-control device typically stopped bleeding in two to five minutes. In explaining why the device was ranked eight on the list of top innovations for 2021, Cleveland Clinic highlighted the low-tech nature of the intervention and potential to use it in developing countries.

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