Guy Francfort, vice president of sales and marketing for MEGA Electronics Inc., 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?
Francfort: Component designs are getting more and more compact. For instance, a brick DC/DC power supply at one time referred to a certain size and wattage. The wattage has been increasing to the point where we can now [achieve] three or four times the amount of power out of the same size converter, thus making it possible to take a device that took up a rack 20 years ago and put it into a hand-held device.
Q: How are consumer electronics impacting the design of electronic medical devices?
Francfort: Designers are now looking at the Apple design philosophy of not only making devices that are functional, but that are ergonomically and aesthetically pleasing. Options of using voice and video built into devices that communicate over the internet will be able to revolutionize the medical field. There are already insurance companies employing doctors that are arranging office visits from remote locations.
Q: What is the biggest limitation currently holding back medical electronics from developing further?
Francfort: Government regulations.
Q: What advances need to be made in power solutions for portable technology to advance further?
Francfort: Batteries need to continue to advance and become more efficient. The power supply industry is rapidly changing, now requiring Level V efficiency ratings to be used in Canada and Europe to lower standby by power consumption. There is already talk of Level VI requiring further reductions and greater efficiencies.
Q: How are electronics impacting traditional non-electronic medical devices?
Francfort: We recently had a customer that was producing a pump driven cold water circulation pad for rotator cuff surgery recuperation. In the past, ice and cooling pads would have been used. It was a portable device that can be used in the home and the hospital. The switching power supply that was being employed was working perfectly for home applications, but interfering with EKG and other medical equipment in the hospital environment. The customer had to switch to a linear supply to avoid the EMC and interference.
Q: Where are medical electronics headed over the next five to ten years?
Francfort: Smaller, smarter, faster, added communication capabilities.
Q: Any thoughts/comments on medical electronics or another related area that you would like to share with medical device manufacturers to aid them?
Francfort: Designers should rely on the manufacturers early in their design cycles to ensure that they are selecting the correct components to meet national and international regulations.