Medical research and medical technology keep on pushing the boundaries of technological advancements. This is especially promising for patients since the improvements in capabilities would provide better treatment and therapy for illnesses and ailments. With the digitalization of machines, equipment, and devices, this trend is also being applied to medical devices. But medical device makers are pushing things even further with the design of smart medical devices.
The competition among medical device manufacturers is how to design the best features in smart medical devices. If you’re thinking of ways to upgrade your existing medical devices, or if you’re looking for some help with the design, you can click here for a medical device development company. Here’s a brief discussion on how to design smart medical devices.
1. What Are Smart Medical Devices
In recent years, the medical device industry has been caught up with the trend to come up with innovative designs for smart medical devices. Some in the medical device industry consider smart devices as simply the digital transformation of conventional medical devices. An example of this is the digital blood pressure reader and monitor that has already replaced the old sphygmomanometer.
Other examples are the digital blood sugar reader and digital thermometer that have already replaced their non-digital forerunners. There are now portable oximeters that measure a person’s oxygen level just by clipping the thumb or forefinger. It can also measure a person’s heart rate and pulse rate. These medical devices easily determine whether a person’s vital rates are below or beyond the acceptable ranges for a healthy person.
But experts across generations have different understandings of this technology. Some experts refer to automated medical devices when they use the term smart medical devices. Some refer to the application of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) when they say smart medical devices. And then some refer to devices that connect with other machines and devices through the Internet of Things (IoT) when they say smart medical devices.
2. Give Devices Intelligence
One of the first things that designers should factor into medical devices to make them ‘smart’ is to give them artificial intelligence. This is one of the most important features that separate smart medical devices from those which are just digital versions of their analog or electro-mechanical forerunners. This is achieved by applying the use of data analytics or big data in the design of smart medical devices.
Designers can give intelligence to medical devices through the use of data analytics. Data stored in the client servers are used to improve and enhance the capabilities of medical devices. Data analytics can enable your medical devices to make the most of the existing data stored in your servers and databases. You can use the correlations of your stored data to enhance the performance of your medical devices and make them smart.
Another way to use data to make your devices smarter is through machine learning algorithms. You can train the software applications used by your medical devices using data stored in your servers and database. For example, you can use machine learning to teach your devices to interpret data on their own. It can interpret the correlation between the BP reading and the heart rate of a person.
To take your medical devices to the next level, you can also apply AI algorithms and design them to have built-in AI applications. For example, you can allow owners of BP readers to input their caffeine and cholesterol intake in a day by scanning the contents description of a product label before getting their BP reading.
The BP reader can store all of this information and come up with a correlation between a person’s caffeine intake and BP reading. There could be another correlation between cholesterol intake and BP reading. It could even map its multivariate correlation between caffeine, cholesterol, the number of hours elapsed after intake, and surge of high blood pressure. It could do this for all the food and beverage intake of a person, hours of sleep, kilometers walked or jogged, laps of swimming, and many other factors and variables.
3. Enable Remote Handling
With the ongoing pandemic, hospitals and other healthcare institutions are among those who must enforce social distancing even in their workplace. Except when they have to come near a patient to render caregiving assistance, frontline healthcare workers stay away from each other and patients.
These are opportunities for medical device companies to develop smarter devices. Here are some of the features and functionalities they can include in their designs:
- Enable remote handling – They can design medical devices in such a way that they can be handled remotely. For instance, ventilators can be designed in a way that they can be manipulated, monitored, and handled from afar.
- Put sensors – Another way designers can innovate is by putting heat and motion sensors in some of the medical machines, equipment, and devices. This will enable their users to set them to be activated when these triggers happen and remove the need for human handling in certain circumstances.
- Include robotic functions – Smart medical equipment and devices can be used to attend to the needs of highly-infectious patients without requiring frontline healthcare workers to come near them, by giving the equipment or devices robotic arms which can perform basic handling functions.
4. Make It Connect And Talk To Other Devices
Some people in the medical device manufacturing industry sternly believe that medical devices can’t be considered smart unless they can connect to a network and communicate with other devices. Another feature to include in medical devices to make them smart is to interconnect them with other machines, equipment, and devices in an Internet of Things (IoT) network.
IoT will bring the synergy and interconnectivity of hospital equipment and devices and healthcare workers to the next level, medical devices can be connected through the IoT. This would help facilitate the integration of data management among the machines and devices, and enable those handling them to integrate their functions and capabilities. This would enhance the synergy of devices, and improve operational efficiency and performance.
Medical device manufacturers continue to improve and enhance their products through innovation and technological breakthroughs. Some devices have been vastly improved with digitalization. There are also those which have successfully included analytics, automation, and even AI-driven functionalities. Others are taking medical devices to the next level through remote handling, built-in sensors, robotics, and IoT.
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