More medical devices are being designed with electronic components that enhance the overall functionality and/or efficiency of the product. It is interesting to theorize where these electronics may take healthcare. For this month's Perspectives, we received a large number of responses so be sure to check out the other Parts of this feature.
Looking ahead, what technology will educe the biggest breakthroughs in electronic medical devices?
Director, Growth Industries Strategy, ENOVIA, Dassault Systemes
As implantable medical devices become smaller and smaller, they can be worn by patients in their day-to-day lives. These devices have mini-computers embedded with software to monitor physical conditions of patient and be able to administer drugs when required or record and transmit a log of a patient's condition.
Business Development Manager, Medical and High Reliability Group, Texas Instruments
Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Logic
Both sensor and digital wireless technologies are reaching the reliability performance levels necessary to be used for continuous and automated diagnostics of patients. When combined with wide-area wireless communications used in a secure patient information system, these devices could actually allow caregivers to pre-empt acute episodes like decompensated heart failure, hypoglycemia, or infectious disease outbreaks. Caught in time, for example, an acute decompensated heart event can generally be stopped simply by increasing the patient's prescribed diuretica five minute phone call from a nurse. However, if action is not taken and acute heart failure results, then hospitalization is required with great risk to the patient. A little sensor device keeping an eye on the patient and communicating with the care giver network could profoundly increase efficiencies and decrease the cost of healthcare.
Director of New Product Development, Amphenol Alden Products Co.
Minimally invasive, electrosurgical devices often draw on several of these mediums requiring the placement of multiple catheters to perform a successful procedure. Adoption of these miraculous minimally invasive techniques was long hindered by the extended time required to place catheters in contrast to conventional surgical techniques. This situation is now being remedied by the ability to combine these modes into a single hybrid catheter and interconnect system. One catheter equals faster. The MIS revolution is back on track having addressed "OR throughput" by embracing hybrid interconnect technology.
Hybrid technology is also addressing traditional, outside the box cable management issues. A single cable can now replace the often confusing, always tangled, snake nest of wires found on many emergency medical devices resulting in a faster, safer procedure from a more intuitive product.
The advancement of hybrid interconnect technology and its ability to segregate and efficiently deliver any combination of fluid, gas, electricity, or light will fuel the creation and expansion of medical miracles well into the future.
Global Director of Business Development, Tyco Electronics Elo TouchSystems
Accessing a device via a touch screen is inherently more intuitive than using keys, trackballs, joysticks, or other indirect interface devices. Touch-based user interfaces provide direct interaction with a system, instead of indirect control via multiple keystrokes or remote control of an on-screen cursor. Just touch your choice, drag an icon to a new location, or use a gesture to enlarge/scroll/rotate a portion of the screen; you're directly telling the device exactly what you want.
Touch gives designers the freedom to totally re-think the user interface and simplify access to the ever-increasing complexity of devices through new graphical methods of interaction. Touch screens also create more space for the user interface by eliminating mechanical controls, transforming the entire face of the device into a touchable display. A larger user interface is not only easier to use; it also allows for more user involvement with the device, which is part of what makes the iPhone so addictive.
As devices become steadily more powerful and complex, while ever smaller, touch enables the user to take direct, personal, and simple control over them. Touch makes any electronic medical device more usable, which multiplies the value of whatever technology is inside.