Significant developments from outside of the medical industry — like the introduction of AI and big data analysis — are shaking up manufacturers’ approach to medical devices. Recently, new applications of these advancements have led to big impacts on just about every aspect of how medical devices get made — from testing, to design, to manufacturing, to treating patients.
Here are 4 different medical device technologies that are disrupting the industry right now.
1. Smart Health Technology
New technology makes it easier than ever before to collect and transmit data that can help patients know if they’re following a treatment plan properly.
For example, there are new healthcare devices are integrating smart health technology — like smart inhalers that send information about a patient’s inhaler use to their smartphone, notifying them when they’re using their inhalers incorrectly or too often.
This information can help improve medication adherence in patients that use inhalers, ensuring that the inhaler provides its full of range of health benefits.
Other devices go even further, and track health data constantly. Wearable health devices — similar to Fitibts and smart watches — can constantly collect health data like resting heart rate and blood pressure providing patients with a better picture of their current health.
Despite being fairly new technology, wearables are already among the medical tech advancements on track to change how doctors treat patients.
For example, in Parkinson’s disease, treatment depends heavily on carefully and accurately tracking the severity of patient symptoms. Traditional methods, like motor diaries place a lot of demand on patients and can generate many false negatives as patients underestimate their symptoms.
Other methods of symptom tracking, like tracker apps, can help improve tracking accuracy — but come with their own pros and cons, just like most pieces of medical technology.
Wearables can deliver a constant stream of data, and can be almost as accurate as having a doctor with the patient at all times keeping track of their symptoms’ progression. These devices are so good at tracking Parkinson’s symptoms that health researchers have recommended doctors consider them as a potential alternative to motor diaries and other tracking methods.
3. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence, which is one of the technologies also disrupting the medical field at large, is excellent at finding subtle patterns in large data sets. This makes it a powerful tool in a range of medical devices.
One example of AI in medical devices are new CT scanners that use AI to clear up and stitch together scans, providing better images for doctors to use in the process of diagnosing cancer.
AI may also revolutionize how certain kinds of cancer are diagnosed and treated. In a study published earlier this year, researchers trained an AI to detect breast cancer in mammograms. The result was an AI that was better than radiologists at diagnosing breast cancer.
So far, AI has been so useful that the FDA has instated new rules which should help streamline the approval process for new devices that use AI and machine learning.
4. 3D Printing for Medical Devices
3D printing is a kind of additive manufacturing that creates physical objects from 3D computer models. The method is best known for its flexibility and low cost compared to traditional manufacturing — two qualities that make it excellent for certain medical devices.
3D printers are already being used by medical devices manufacturers to speed up the manufacturing process and rapidly prototype medical devices.
The manufacturing method also allows for tailor-made medical devices that are custom-fit to a patient’s physiology. In some cases, this can ensure that the device will be a better fit, potentially reducing the risk of complications.
How New Tech is Disrupting the Medical Device Industry
New technology is significantly changing the medical device industry. Advancements like AI, 3D printing and smart technology are enabling new and improved functions for medical devices. Improvements disrupting the industry include better detection of disease, personalized medical devices and improved data collection.
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