Some devices in medicine have withstood the test of time.
The stethoscope is a prime example. While the medical listening device has seen some nominal updates, the stethoscope remains relatively unchanged going as far back as 70 years ago.
However, times are changing – and changing quickly. The medical device industry is not immune to one of the latest technological advances impacting all industries: smart technology. The introduction of “smart” devices in patient care have greatly increased both efficiency and precision.
But like their less advanced predecessors and counterparts, smart devices only go so far as their components. Among the most important: sensors.
Paired together, smart medical devices and sensors create new ways for highly specialized and precise medical care.
Smart Medical Devices: Upgrading Patient Care
Before digging into how smart medical devices have already changed healthcare and medical devices, let's look at the basics of what makes a device “smart.”
Smart medical devices are machines, instruments and equipment that use AI or machine learning algorithms to gain insight into patient treatment and outcomes. Smart technology has pushed e-health initiatives by making it possible to monitor patients remotely in real-time, greatly reducing doctor visits and hospital readmissions.
Smart medical devices fall into two categories: informational and automated health management.
- Informational devices are designed to collect and display health data for patients to use in making informed decisions about their health. These devices include wearable fitness trackers, smart scales, and blood glucose monitors that use sensors to collect data and display it on an app or web portal. Patients can use this information to track their progress toward their health goals, make lifestyle changes, and share their data with healthcare providers for more informed decision-making.
- Automated health management devices, on the other hand, are designed to actively manage a patient's health by providing real-time feedback and recommendations. These devices use artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to analyze health data and provide personalized insights and recommendations to improve health outcomes.
iMonitor | Where Smart Technology is Revolutionizing Healthcare
In healthcare, smart tech goes far beyond wristwatches that help the wearer workout better or track a few biometrics.
Smart technology equipped with custom sensors is upgrading a wide variety of medical devices across all facets of patient care. It's also allowing healthcare to become more mobile, convenient, and personalized than ever before – all while maintaining the highest standards of accuracy and performance.
A few key examples:
- Glucometers and insulin pumps
- Ambulatory dialysis
- CPAP machines
- Blood pressure monitors
- Fighting COVID-19
Glucometers & Insulin Pumps
Smart technology helps insulin pumps provide more accurate and precise dosages of medication to diabetics, allowing them to better manage their conditions. Smart technology can be incorporated into the design of insulin pumps using sensors and advanced algorithms to measure factors such as glucose levels, metabolic rates, body temperature, heart rate, and other health metrics.
This data is then transferred to the pump, allowing it to make adjustments to medication dosage accordingly. This ensures that patients receive their medications in an optimal manner and at the right time.
In the past, receiving dialysis treatments meant the patient needed to travel to a medical facility for treatment. While that scenario still plays out every day, smart technology is allowing for the life-prolonging treatment to happen in-home.
Smart technology-enabled machines allow dialysis patients to receive treatment at home more conveniently and with fewer visits to the hospital. This helps reduce time spent traveling, lowers medical expenses, and allows for more flexibility in terms of treatment times.
For example, smart dialysis machines are able to measure a variety of parameters such as blood pressure, fluid levels, and electrolyte levels. This data is monitored in real-time by the machine’s AI algorithms and is used to adjust the machine’s settings accordingly.
Used to treat sleep apnea, CPAP machines are increasingly being enhanced by smart technology.
Smart CPAP machines provide a number of advantages that can help improve the comfort and effectiveness of treatments, as they have automated feedback loops that can constantly monitor and adjust treatments in real time. This means that patients can have more tailored treatment regimens that are tailored to their specific needs.
Additionally, CPAP machines equipped with smart technology can provide insights into the individual's sleep patterns and possible treatments for underlying medical issues.
Blood Pressure Monitors
Blood pressure monitors have undergone significant improvements with the integration of smart technology, making it easier for patients to monitor their blood pressure and stay on top of their health.
One of the major advancements in smart blood pressure monitors is the ability to wirelessly connect to smartphones or tablets through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Patients can easily transfer their blood pressure data to an app for analysis, tracking, and sharing with their healthcare providers.
Machine learning algorithms in smart blood pressure monitors are able to identify patterns and provide personalized recommendations for patients to improve their blood pressure management. Smart blood pressure monitors can also detect irregular heartbeats and alert patients to seek medical attention if necessary.
In the not-too-distant past, smart technology played a major role in the fight against COVID-19. Smart sensors and devices enabled a variety of important capabilities in the healthcare industry during the throes of the pandemic, including:
- Contact tracing and infection tracking
- Remote patient monitoring
- Telemedicine visits
- Contactless temperature taking
Smart technology and sensors even lead to the creation of new devices – it wasn't uncommon to enter facilities with kiosks equipped with touchless thermometers and facial recognition software that could tell if a person wasn't wearing a mask. More sophisticated systems could even monitor people on an individual basis and track trends in their temperatures – an indicator of contracting COVID.
Custom Integrated Sensors: The Lynchpin for Smart Tech
As with any device, components are key. And when it comes to smart medical devices, sensors play a major role in the advancement of healthcare. When designing smart medical devices, there's no substitute for custom sensor technology.
While "off-the-shelf" sensors are indeed an option, custom sensors take performance to the next level, as they're specifically made for the device they're going in.
To that end, an experienced OEM sensor manufacturer is worth its weight in gold to any medical device maker.
- Expertise – OEM sensor manufacturers specialize in designing, developing, and manufacturing sensors for a wide range of applications. This means they have deep expertise and knowledge of the technologies and materials needed to create sensors that are accurate, reliable, and can withstand the conditions of the environment they are intended for.
- True customization – OEM sensor manufacturers have the ability to customize their sensors to meet the specific needs of a device designer. They can modify the size, shape, and performance characteristics of their sensors to fit the unique requirements of a particular application. This can result in better accuracy, lower power consumption, and improved reliability for the smart device.
- Integration – Working with an OEM sensor manufacturer can also make it easier to integrate the sensor into the smart device. The manufacturer can provide guidance on the best way to interface with the sensor and ensure that the sensor communicates effectively with the device's software and hardware.
- Quality – OEM sensor manufacturers have strict quality control processes in place to ensure that their sensors meet the highest standards of accuracy and reliability. This means that the sensors used in the smart device will be of high quality, reducing the likelihood of device failure or malfunction.
- Support – An OEM sensor manufacturer can provide ongoing support throughout the development process and beyond. They can help with troubleshooting, provide technical support, and even offer training to help designers get the most out of their sensors.
Smart Medical Devices and Sensors | Revolutionizing Healthcare and Improved Patient Care
As in practically every industry, smart technology is revolutionizing medical devices and how they impact patient care.
Allowing for real-time data analysis and continuous monitoring, smart medical devices and sensors are providing healthcare professionals with more accurate and timely information to make informed decisions about patient care.
As a result, smart medical devices and sensors are paving the way for a more connected, patient-centered approach to medical care.
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