Q: What’s in store for the medical device sector in the coming year? What news, technologies, regulations, or companies will capture the spotlight in 2016?
The growing trend in wearable medical devices has been greatly influenced by consumer product companies marketing fitness and heart rate monitors. These consumer companies are innovating and adapting quickly to survive in a competitive and fast-paced market. The established players in the medical device space are taking notice and seeing huge potential. By looking at what’s being done in the consumer market, acquiring emerging technologies, and investing in their own internal incubators, they are kick-starting innovation.
This ability to leverage consumer developments has become a significant driver for bringing best-in-class features and innovation to the medical device industry. For example, consumer wearables that use thin-film battery technologies are leading to the development of patch monitors that are worn directly on the user’s skin. Designed to track a patient’s vital signs, they will feature much smaller, low-profile component architectures. Accelerometers, which are ubiquitous in cell phones, fitness monitors, and game controllers, are inexpensive yet accurate, and can help inform artifact rejection algorithms to facilitate more precise measurements of ambulatory patients. Low-power, wireless communication methods are always evolving and can be leveraged to allow more power-efficient connectivity over longer periods of time. These are just some of the advances that are pushing the boundaries for the future of wearable medical devices in the year ahead.