Reliability and Longevity Are Critical for Medical Electronics
Deepak Hariharan, business manager of the Electronics Division at Adhesives Research, was a part of the staff written article, “Portability Is the Name of the Game.” He took time to present a full array of responses that were not able to be included in the article, so they are presented here.
Q: How are advances in electronic components helping the industry move to portable healthcare?
Hariharan: The growing trends of increased miniaturization and design elegance seen for electronic components in consumer electronics is naturally transitioning to the medical electronics market for improving the ease-of-use, compliance, and speed in which information is processed through patient monitoring systems and other portable medical electronic devices. These improvements are often made possible through advances in material options used in applications for flexible and robust electrical interconnects grounding, shielding, and touch screens.
As adhesive manufacturers adapt their technologies to meet the next generation of consumer electronics, the advancements are being readily accepted in the medical device design market.
Q: What is the biggest limitation currently holding back medical electronics from developing further?
Hariharan: The biggest limitation today is the current regulatory requirements. Electronics/medical device manufacturers and patients are becoming more familiar with monitoring and reporting of non-critical parameters such as temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure etc., through the use of simple, wearable devices. Eventually this will lead to the progression of more advanced devices for monitoring and reporting patient information to physician's offices and one day administer medicines directly to the patient.
Q: What advances need to be made in power solutions for portable technology to advance further?
Hariharan: Reliability and longevity are the main advances required for power solutions.
Q: How are electronics impacting traditionally non-electronic medical devices?
Hariharan: Applications for wearable sensors is a very exciting and upcoming opportunity in terms of the future of medical device design. Over the next 5 to 10 years, medical device designers will demand greater functionality, and we will begin to see a progression in the sophistication of data that can be collected from these devices—from simple to more complex measurements.
Q: How are advances in electronic components impacting the functionality and capabilities of implantable devices?
Hariharan: Here again, reliability and longevity are the main criterion when dealing with implantable devices. There is very little room for error as far as quality control is concerned since the patient may have to be operated again to replace a defective component which is a major inconvenience and cost.
Q: Where are medical electronics headed over the next five to ten years?
Hariharan: The advances made in the area of personal computing will translate to medical devices and may even lead to merging of the two areas in some form. In the future, it is likely that devices will be capable of administering a drug dose based on vital signs measured by a patient monitoring system. These systems may also be capable of communicating patient data to a remote physician’s office and accept a remote command to deliver a drug dose.