By Kayla Matthews, Productivity Bytes
Manufacturers know how crucial it is to continually improve their medical device tech and focus on usability, convenience and other factors relevant to providers and patients alike. Here are six things likely on the way for medical devices.
1. More Applications For E-Tattoos
People can expect to see more medical device designs implementing e-tattoos. They're easy to apply and remove, plus they're so thin and flexible that patients almost forget they're wearing them.
One recent advancement involved researchers from The University of Texas at Austin developing an e-tattoo that simultaneously measures the heart's electrocardiograph and seismocardiography readings for days with little or no discomfort.
A Duke University team also devised a new method of creating printed electronics they believe will be instrumental in facilitating innovative medical devices. One of the people involved explained the potential for highly specialized e-tattoos such as bespoke bandages containing what an individual patient needs.
2. New Advancements In Ingestibles
Scientists are working hard on devices that let doctors see inside the body after patients ingest the gadgets. For example, people inside Stanford University's Arbabian Lab are trying to put ultrasound technology inside a pill, and they have built a prototype for an ingestible that monitors the redox states of the gastrointestinal tract.
However, If a device does not disintegrate after use, the patients that use it typically need endoscopic surgery. A team at MIT engineered a light-sensitive hydrogel to use in medical device designs.
They say it's possible to control when the device breaks down by exposing it to light from a small LED that patients also ingest. Although the researchers have only tested their development in pigs, 2020 could bring similar improvements that eventually help humans directly.
3. Better Thermal Management Options
The next-generation medical devices arriving on the market must be smaller and faster, plus more precise and reliable than the gadgets before them. Those desired improvements mean that product designers must focus on thermal management more than ever. If a device gets too hot, it could malfunction or harm a patient.
An example of a recent product that applies to medical device management comes from a company called termotek. Its new device cools things without moving parts or refrigerant thanks to the Peltier Effect. The principle relates to how cooling can occur after connecting a pair of electrodes to semiconductor material and applying voltage.
The cooling units from termotek are not embedded into devices themselves, however. Instead, they are stand-alone products that could supplement the internal thermal management technologies inside medical gadgets. The company will start shipping its first batch of these items in the first quarter of 2020, and termotek is undoubtedly one of the many companies working on keeping medical products cool.
4. More Opportunities To Collect Patient Data
Hospital employees have long had the opportunity to collect patient data, such as vital signs. However, the chances to do so will likely increase in 2020 and beyond.
Serrano is a company that has a continual monitoring device that checks for minute changes in patients who may have acute kidney injury (AKI). It monitors for variations in urine output and volume, then gives providers actionable data they can use to make treatment decisions.
This medical device reportedly achieved accuracy and reliability rates of over 96 percent during a clinical trial period in Israel. It included dozens of patients and more than 1,300 hours of monitoring. Serrano's solution works in a wide variety of environments and settings, including with people confined to mobile hospital beds. Providers can even use it during surgeries.
Medical organizations know how valuable data can be in assisting with patient care choices. Manufacturers will continue to meet needs and create continual monitoring devices that complement inpatient care.
5. Apps Will Accompany Medical Devices
The mental strain that can accompany life with a chronic illness is something that often gets overlooked. However, patients may soon have more smartphone apps they can use — along with medical devices — to relieve the anxiety and stress associated with their diseases.
Quin is a diabetes management app set to launch in late 2020. It analyzes the data from patients' past dietary and exercise choices and uses it to aid them in glucose therapy decisions. For example, the app might tell a person that the last five times they drank a latte, they had to take a specific amount of insulin within a short time frame. Then, it reduces the trial and error approach that insulin users often face when administering the treatment.
A quarter of people with diabetes have depression, and 40 percent received anxiety diagnoses. Quin is an app that aims to reduce those statistics and help patients enjoy a better quality of life. Plus, other apps will likely arise that try to address the mental stressors patients face.
6. Companies Will Design Multiple Monitoring Options
If patients feel that the monitoring options available to them suit their lifestyles and preferences, they'll be more likely to follow orders to use them. Biobeat is an Israeli company that provides patients with two different ways of monitoring things like blood oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and heart rate variability.
People can either wear a chest patch or a watch that tracks those health measurements, connecting each option to a dedicated gateway or a smartphone. Also, Biobeat's products suit short-term monitoring during hospital stays, plus long-term telemedicine needs.
More parties in the medical device sector may realize that it's cost-effective for them to build multiple versions of their products. Then, overall usage rates may go up.
An Exciting Future For Medical Device Tech
These six predictions are not the only developments that'll become apparent this year. However, they're worth keeping an eye on due to their potential to disrupt the market.
About The Author
Kayla Matthews is a MedTech writer whose work has appeared on HIT Consultant, Medical Economics and HITECH Answers, among other industry publications. To read more from Kayla, please connect with her on LinkedIn, or visit her personal tech blog at https://productivitybytes.com.