Stopping an Invisible Killer: Combating Hospital Acquired Infections with Antimicrobial Materials

bacteria

Photo: NIAID

Here’s a modern irony: every year in the United States, nearly 100,000 people who go to the hospital for treatment die— not from what brought them to the hospital in the first place, but because of infections they got there. Hospital acquired infections  (HAI) are a serious threat to an already vulnerable group of people. In hospitals and other healthcare setting, drug-resistant bacteria are rife. They grow in sink drains, persist on equipment that is passed from room to room and latch onto door handles. They are passed to patients and workers via medical devices such as IVs, catheters, wound dressing materials, even surgical drapes and equipment. Continue Reading →

Smartphones and Tablets: Disrupting Healthcare

Healthcare

Around the world, healthcare systems struggle with unprecedented unsustainable rises in healthcare costs and expanding access to care. Every player in the healthcare value chain needs to re-evaluate how more effective care can be delivered to more patients at lower cost. Can tablets and smartphones help?

Today’s buzz around eHealth is centered on the clinical environment. Smartphones and tablets have already taken root in clinical practices. In time, the tablet or smartphone may become the primary display. According to a report from New York, N.Y. based Manhattan Research titled, “Taking the Pulse 2012,” 85 percent of U.S. physicians own or use a smartphone for their profession. Of the 62 percent of physicians who own tablets, half use them at the point of care. Continue Reading →

Mechatronics Improves Design and Operation of Medical Devices

mechatronics, medical devices, healthcare, miniaturization, in vitro diagnostics, drug delivery, patient monitoring systems, respiratory, dialysis, video endoscopy, human factors, ergonomics

Although mechatronics date all the way back to 1969, when the Japanese firm Yaskawa coined the term blending “mechanical” and “electronics,” steady advancements in technology – especially the software that drives the system and wireless connectivity that links it to other computers – have vastly expanded its use. Today, a major focus area for mechatronics is medical devices. By integrating mechanical and electrical hardware with software processes, device designers can deliver highly sophisticated functionality. The beauty of mechatronics lies in flexibility, enabling its use in a growing range of medical applications from positioning systems in hospital beds to robotic surgical devices. Classic examples of mechatronic devices are the pacemaker and defibrillator, as well as the active ankle-foot orthosis, featuring computer-controlled actuators to improve gait. Continue Reading →

Will Connected Health Save the Healthcare Industry?

“I have often said that the future of health care is dependent on providers’ ability to live up to three major commitments: care must be high quality, care must be accessible and care must be affordable. Connected care is all three and technology is helping us get there.”  – Bernard J. Tyson, President and Chief Operating Officer of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan, Inc.

If you traveled back in time several centuries, you would find little change in the treatment of sick and diseased individuals in society until the mid-19th century when hospitals were developed, beginning the organization of healthcare. Scientific medicine emerged after that and drove 20th century medical advances. After World War II major social and political structures evolved in the healthcare field and from around 1980 to now, much of the change in healthcare evolved from a clinically driven system to an economically driven system. Continue Reading →

Replacing the Wired Network with a Mobile One

Part 5 of 6-part series “Interfacing medical devices to the mobile network”

Our discussion of issues and challenges with interfacing medical devices continues with a deeper look at the mobile network. Current remote health monitoring solutions have been using landlines for years. By replacing a wired network connection with a mobile one, we are introducing some potential unknowns into the medical device system. Continue Reading →

Keeping Pace with Demand without Sacrificing Quality

With demand for medical devices mounting as the population ages, manufacturers find they must increase production of their products while complying with stringent manufacturing requirements and ever-increasing regulations.  It’s vital that medical device manufacturers keep pace with demand without sacrificing quality because people’s lives so often depend on the complex devices. Continue Reading →

Mobile Network Communicator: Existing or Custom Device?

Part 4 of 6-part series “Interfacing medical devices to the mobile network.”

Our previous post in this series introduced elements of the solution to interfacing medical devices to the mobile network – the device/communicator. It addressed challenges associated with using existing consumer devices such as smart phones as part of a Class II or Class III medical device solution. The fundamental issue is – and always will be – focused on the intended use and labeling of the device. What function does the existing mobile device perform as part of the medical system? Is it in the critical path? If the mobile function went away, would the device still operate to its intended use? Is the device actually diagnosing, providing warnings or alerts, or even taking action on treatments? Continue Reading →

Mobility Technology: Bringing Change to the Medical Industry

Part 2 of 6-part series “Interfacing medical devices to the mobile network.”

The Introduction of Unknowns

The use of mobility technology is bringing change to the medical industry and at the same time introducing gray areas and unknown variables into the medical device ecosystem. Until now, the industry has worked in familiar scenarios where evaluation and documentation of issues affecting safety, efficacy, and security are more or less contained within the physician/patient/device ecosystem. Using an extended system of communication devices, mobile networks, and multiple data access and evaluation points opens the possibility for new risks. Continue Reading →