Top Ten Health Care Innovations for 2015

March 19, 2015 Brigham and Women's Hospital

Brigham Innovation Hub is a resource center for new and experienced innovators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Subscribers to the Brigham Innovation Hub blog, which include BWH clinicians and members of the health care innovation community, were asked to vote on the health care innovations they believe will have the biggest impact on patient care. Innovations that increased patient engagement, reduced costs, and advanced digital health technology led the rankings among the 450 subscribers who voted.

1. Use of “Big Data” to reduce the costs for high-cost patients

Only five percent of patients account for about half of all U.S. health care spending. Analysis of large patient data sets can help providers better understand the health care needs of this small segment of patients, identify any gaps in their care, and adjust care accordingly. The result is improved quality of care at lower cost.

2. Financial incentivizing of healthy behavior by employers

Companies are spending more on health care than they did five years ago.  As a result employers are working to help their employees live healthier. Nearly half of employers now offer wellness programs. Financial incentives are also being used to encourage participation in these programs.


3. Innovations for managing outpatient behavioral health

Up to 30 percent of Americans have a mental health condition but less than a quarter of them seek help. Hospitals partnering with outpatient mental health agencies create a teamwork approach to patients in crisis. The link can seamlessly transition patients in and out of the appropriate facilities when an episode occurs. The use of telepsychiatry is also on the rise, providing counseling services to remote patients.


4. Expanded use of telehealth and digital health by clinicians

The expansion of coverage for telehealth services by Medicare coupled with expanded internet access is making telemedicine a viable option for delivering patient care. The addition of imaging and monitoring services offered through digital health services also adds value to telehealth visits.


5. Health care delivery goes retail to increase patient engagement

The move of retail giants like Walmart and CVS into health care delivery is grounded in the belief that improved health outcomes can be fostered in community settings. Learn what BWH is doing to increase patient engagement.


6. Increasing use of “wearables” in hospitals to continuously monitor biomarkers

The use of “wearables” allows for automated, continuous physiological monitoring. On busy inpatient units, sensors can be especially valuable in alerting clinicians of safety issues and sudden medical emergencies. Watch a video with Dr. David Bates, Chief Innovation Officer, to learn how BWH is using technology to improve patient safety.


7. Increased prescription of health apps

Mobile apps allow patients to take more responsibility and interest in their own health. Apps that can reduce costs through remote consultation will be especially valuable. Listen to Dr. David Bates describe how health apps can improve care of chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.


8. Care delivery innovation for end-of-life care

The goal of end-of-life care is to reduce suffering and respect the wishes of the dying. The use of telemedicine and digital health could enhance the care delivery of this sensitive patient population. Understanding patient priorities can also preserve quality of life. Read more in “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” by BWH physician, Dr. Atul Gawande.


9. Increased use of 3-D printing

Medical researchers are exploring numerous uses for 3-D printing.  At BWH, 3-D printing is being used to accurately map out the techniques of face transplantation pre-operatively and to follow the progress of patients post-operatively.  This provides better visualization for surgeons and better satisfaction with appearances for patients.


10. Better care delivery and engagement for the newly insured and millenials

The number of Americans born in the eighties and nineties (millenials) now surpass the baby boomers (those born in the fifties and sixties). Earnings of millenials are expected to surpass their parents’ by 2018. To engage this important and growing segment of the population, health plans will need to adopt innovative new technologies by partnering with entrepreneurs.


Angelica R/Jamie R

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