The 10 'game-changing' innovations to watch, according to Cleveland Clinic

The Cleveland Clinic on Wednesday released its 12th annual ranking of the top 10 medical innovations to watch in the year ahead, with the hybrid closed-loop insulin delivery system—hailed as the world's first artificial pancreas—topping the list.

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To determine the top medical innovations for 2018, the Clinic said it solicited nominations from its clinicians and researchers on various "game-changing" developments in their specialties. This year, participants nominated more than 300 innovations. A team of researchers then finalized the list of nominations for review by two independent panels of physicians from the Clinic.

The top innovation to watch

The Clinic selected the hybrid closed-loop insulin delivery system—hailed as the world's first "artificial pancreas"—as the top innovation to watch in 2018. According to the Clinic, the hybrid system, which was approved by FDA in 2016, helps patients with Type 1 diabetes stabilize their blood glucose levels by enabling direct communication between the insulin pump and the continuous glucose monitoring device. Previously, patients had to use the information from their monitors to determine how much insulin they needed.

According to medical experts, the technology is poised to disrupt the insulin pump market in 2018 amid increase patient demand and a growing call to develop a similar product for patients with Type 2 diabetes.

Other winners

Other top innovations to watch in 2018 include:

2. Neuromodulation to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAPs) devices are considered the highest standard of treatment for people with sleep apnea, which affects around 21 million Americans—but roughly 40 percent of patients refuse to use them. But now, medical experts are predicting that sleep apnea patients will find relief with a new implantable, pacemaker-like device—controlled by either a remote or wearable patch and powered by a small battery—that helps synchronize breathing and tongue movement.

3. Gene therapy for inherited retinal diseases. According to the Clinic, FDA next year is expected to approve a therapy that uses viral "vectors" to deliver a new gene to targeted cells, improving vision for people who have inherited retinal diseases. Medical experts say such an approval could lead to approval for additional gene therapies.

4. The unprecedented reduction of LDL cholesterol. Research on new drug combinations that can lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol—commonly considered "bad cholesterol," as it leads to clogged arteries—by up to 75 percent have found a 20 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack, or stroke. According to the Clinic, such results suggest "these new strategies hold the promise to turn the tide in 2018" against high cholesterol levels.

5. The emergence of distance health technologies. Medical experts predict that the "emergence and acceleration" of telehealth are assured in 2018. According to the Clinic, 90 percent of health care executives indicate they have established or are developing telehealth programs—and research suggests about seven million patients will use telehealth services in 2018, increasing by 19-fold from 2013.

6. Next generation vaccine platforms. Innovations in vaccine development are projected to transform the market in 2018, helping quicken the development of new vaccines and new ways of delivering them. For instance, researchers are working on freeze-dried vaccines that can be shipped to remote locations, a Band-Aid-sized patch for the flu vaccine, and more, the Clinic reports. Michael Roizen, the chief wellness officer at the Clinic, says that these innovations signal "really radical changes in vaccine prevention."

7. Arsenal of targeted breast cancer therapies. Targeted therapies in 2018 will be most widely used to treat breast cancer, a disease traditionally treated by other valuable—but not completely effective—forms of treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation, the Clinic reports. According to medical experts, the results of studies on targeted therapies suggest that breast cancer patients will have an increased survival rate and that some will no longer require chemotherapy.

8. Enhanced recovery after surgery. Hospitals are increasingly overhauling pre- and post-surgery recovery by adopting "Enhanced Recovery After Surgery" (ERAS) programs. These programs allow patients to eat before surgery, provide patients with opioid-alternatives, and encourage regular walking to aid recovery. According to the Clinic, these ERAS programs have been shown to reduce complication rates, speed up recovery, and reduce blood clots, nausea, infections, and length of stay in the hospital—and they are poised to be implemented in larger scale in 2018.

9. Centralized monitoring of hospital patients. According to medical experts, centralized monitoring is poised to combat "alarm fatigue" in hospitals in 2018. Centralized monitoring systems are operated by off-site personnel using sensors, high-definition cameras, and other advanced equipment to monitor patients' vital signs, cutting down on the number of non-essential alarms on-ground staff have to filter through and flagging the need for intervention when appropriate.

10. Scalp cooling for reducing chemotherapy hair loss. Scalp cooling, which lowers scalp temperature by a couple of degrees before, during, and after chemotherapy, is poised in 2018 to help cancer patients preserve their hair during treatment. The system received FDA approval in 2017 (Cleveland Clinic Newsroom, 10/25; Washington, The Plain Dealer, 10/25; Spitzer, Becker's Health IT & CIO Review, 10/25).

Here are the latest and greatest clinical innovations in oncology

Find our take on the latest innovations and practices for maximizing a return on investment in our research briefings:

  • Innovations in Radiation Oncology
  • Innovations in Medical Oncology
  • Innovations in Surgical Oncology
  • Innovations in Interventional Oncology
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