Q: What opportunities and/or challenges does the growing pressure to control the rising costs of healthcare present to medical device designers and manufacturers?
With the recent focus on reducing healthcare costs, most modern healthcare delivery systems must be designed to transition the point-of-care from the hospital to the clinic to the home. In order for this to happen, medical devices will need to be small and mobile, wirelessly connected, often battery operated, easy to use and secure. Devices will also become more intelligent with the growing need to process more sensors, collect and manage more data, run complex algorithms while making it easy to interface with multiple stakeholders (care seekers and providers). This occurs as government regulations clearly protect patient medical data and as consumers become more concerned about the distributed nature of their medical data.
Innovative battery technology and power efficient processors will drive smaller form factors making devices more portable and wearable while lasting longer on a single charge. Devices will include technology to enable wireless connectivity to network with other in-home and external devices while ensuring data privacy and secure communications. Embedded processors in these devices will need to interface with a variety of sensors, analyze and in some cases fuse data from multiple sensors in order to derive and present data in a meaningful fashion to the user. Ultimately devices will have to be designed to be user-centric, providing intuitive experiences and aesthetics similar to other modern mobile devices.
Although manufacturers are faced by multi-faceted design challenges as healthcare becomes more modernized, the biggest incentive is to ultimately make healthcare more affordable and promote preventive-care and healthy living through the application of technology.