C&K Cutting Edge Blog #3
By Roger Bohannan – C&K Medical Segment Leader
Billions of dollars are spent on drug development for disease remedy, pain, hormone and diabetes care each year. Our best-performing pharmaceutical drug companies have world-class reputations for developing life-changing drugs. The drugs are clinically tested, FDA approved, and the clinical results show their efficacy. As a summary, investments are made throughout the supply chain; drug R&D, administration approvals, delivery system device development, operations are retooled, production, distribution and supply chains are primed, doctors and hospitals are educated. The solutions are then released worldwide. Patient population use begins and the gathering of unregulated Rx use data starts. All those activities are critical, without unpacking a critical component that is being left unsaid…incorporating AI and IoT.
The impactful market transition today is delivery device connectivity. With the ability to track and measure various actions from home-use drug delivery systems, we can expect patient outcomes to improve. The technology is available to allow unregulated (general population) prescription use to more closely mirror regulated clinical study results. Technologically, we can now track and measure everything associated with a prescription regimen: schedule a vitals test, monitor test results, specify the ideal dosing, measure the dosage, confirm drug delivery system contact with the patient, confirm drug delivery, confirm contact was maintained with the patient throughout the delivery of the drug. We can confirm the clarity or discoloration of the Rx solution. We can schedule the next therapeutic assessment, all without the scrutiny of a professional.
Switching, detecting, tracking and measuring data collection are all switch applications. Connectivity is delivering this data for action. Switch performance, reliability, miniaturization in the correct configuration all support these functions. Driving this technology into drug delivery systems is a challenge. How much data can be collected? How many switches are needed? What is the power required to drive data collection and transmission? The impact on size, weight and cost is critical. These are significant challenges.
I’ve written previously about switch customization. In some cases, these new connected design challenges require custom designed switches. I’ve led projects in the past and there are times when technology, quality, engineering attentiveness and delivery are all equal and $.0025 is the decision point. Perhaps in this scenario, ‘custom’ is an unfair term. Some engineering teams avoid anything ‘custom.’ They may associate ‘custom’ with expensive. When working with a switch manufacturer that has the infrastructure in place to standardize custom switches into automated manufacturing, a custom switch takes on an entirely new light. Translation: a custom product can be competitively priced and produced.
Working through custom designs that utilize currently available switching components for connected medical devices is becoming more common. Important design aspects to consider are the haptics, manufactured quality, reliable performance and the availability of the components worldwide. Most importantly is the switch configuration and how it accommodates the device design. I see significant advantages when using custom designed switches in new product development. Custom designs save space, weight and time to market – the added functionality is a nice benefit. It’s important to let the medical world know that customization is available in the market today. Next generation IoT medical device technology is here. Design engineers are putting unique capabilities into new medical devices…coming to a market near you!