How health economics is having an impact on the release of new medical devices
The market for medical devices has expanded considerably over the last few years. There are various factors feeding into this development, such as increasing interest in personal health, ageing populations, developing countries improving their healthcare services and advances in technology.
Levels of patient care are constantly improving and are always under pressure to get even better. Cutting-edge medical devices can only help in this process and so design engineers all over the world are hard at work every day striving to develop them. These include laser surgery equipment, complex robotics for use in operating rooms and ever-more effective diagnostic imaging machines.
Healthcare providers’ demand for more affordable and innovative electronic equipment is increasing as more hospitals, clinics and diagnostic labs are set up around the world.
Consumers are also eager for new ways to monitor their health at home. In recent years, devices such as home blood-pressure monitors and blood-sugar monitors have improved to similar levels as those found in hospitals and doctors surgeries. Unfortunately, as high blood pressure and diabetes rates in many countries increase, the need for this type of monitoring becomes greater too.
Alongside this, society in general has increased its demand for portability, mobility and miniaturisation. This can be seen in the massive expansion of the market for smartphones and tablets, with ever more sophisticated technology in ever smaller sizes. The medical industry is now adopting these same design strategies in its electronic devices.
Health economics is all about increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of delivering healthcare – making devices smaller, lighter, more mobile and more advanced at the same time is a great step in the right direction as far as health economists are concerned.
The costs of delivering healthcare can be kept down even as the health of populations gets worse by increasing home monitoring and therapy administered by patients themselves. With better mobility of devices and better communication capabilities within them, this can be achieved.
There are several key areas of technology which feed into these medical-device capabilities.
Increasingly, healthcare services and information can be delivered via wireless communication technology. Examples of this include sending test results and diagnostic images from one medical professional to another across broadband networks, or making connections between healthcare professionals in their workplaces and patients in their homes. This is key to ensuring patients with home-monitoring devices can transmit their data quickly and easily to their physicians.
The cables used in diagnostic applications and digital imaging machines are key to their effectiveness. Traditionally, they have been made of copper, but fibre-optic cables enable faster downloads, higher transmission speeds, more reliable electrical-signal reception and less distortion. All of these advantages provide a higher image quality and better clarity on the visual displays of X-Ray and MRI machines.
Laser surgery is being used more often as it is less invasive, can be more cost-effective and can be safer for the patient. With modern fibre-optic technology, the laser’s light can be transmitted using a cable which is less than half a millimetre wide. This cuts costs and reduces shipping weights and the storage space required.
Portability and Miniaturisation
The demand for smaller, more portable medical devices means that the components within them must also be smaller and lighter. This miniaturisation has reached amazingly tiny proportions as far as electronic components and micro-connectors are concerned. They can be as small as 0.4 mm by 0.7 mm – and even at this size they are available in several configurations to suit a variety of designs. These same pieces of micro-technology that were designed for use in consumer devices are now being adapted for use in new, more portable medical devices.
User Interface Elements
In order to facilitate efficient and cost-effective usage of monitoring devices at home, which can then save medical professionals time and money, this equipment needs to be easy to use and intuitive.
The key to this is ensuring the switches, touch pads, screens, key pads and lights are all very clear, reliable and simple.
One good example is the membrane switch – it is easy to use, simple to keep clean, sturdy and hard to break and also represents good value for money. Silicone rubber keyboard assemblies have similar advantages. Medical device components such as these ensure cost-effectiveness, reliability and efficiency of healthcare at home.
Having experience in any of these areas at a senior level may mean that you are already qualified to take on a executive position and begin pushing your career at the top. To find out more call us on 02380 111 911.