Whether it involves focusing on ways to reduce heathcare waste or trying to make your product “invisible”, Qmed has come across plenty of helpful tips for medtech industry experts.
Do: understand the Way the Equipment Is Intended to Be Used
Understanding the way in which users or clinicians interactions can be made simple and efficient while also encouraging correct data entry.
Do: Try to reduce healthcare waste with technology
Fact: about one third of all health care spending in the United States is waste. This is an incredible number which technology can help to reduce in the development of a medical device. Device developers can rely on technologies like Big Data in order to create device in a more scientific, evidence based way, getting past tradition.
Do: Learn from Consumer Technologies
Many technologies that apparently are totally disconnected with the medical environment could in fact be used as a starting point for developing health care devices. Let’s think of flight simulator technology, which is used to reboot surgery, for instance. Also, being surgery basically a “navigation problem”, as Alan Greene, MD, chief medical officer of Scanadu, says, technologies like Google Maps can in fact be the future of medical healthcare devices. ).
As Greene explains, technology has thoroughly changed the experience of navigation. Google Maps strength is the contextualization of information: with a smartphone we can instantly calculate how much a Uber ride will cost or have live traffic information. Meanwhile, much of medical practice is stuck at the MapQuest stage, Greene said, where patients are given context-less paper printouts of lab results.
Do: Research When it Comes to Materials
The amount of materials traditionally used in the medical device sector is fairly limited, and this trend has to stop. As Michael Drues, PhD, says, developers must try to find materials which are more customized and not just biocompatible, but at the same time keeping the price affordable. “More custom blends can also have an impact on availability, which could depend on how much of that grade the raw material supplier sells,” says Phil Katen, the president of injection molding firm Plastikos (Erie, PA).
Do: Take Advantage of the Technology Out There
A great example of this is Ativa Medical, a St. Paul, MN based company, has just developed a new product called Scotch Tape, which consists of a business card-size test cards for blood samples. Researchers figured out how to laser-etch micro channels on sheets of 3M co adhesive polymer, or more commonly tape, allowing for a single drop of blood to flow through the channels on a test card as the company’s clock radio-sized MicroLAB device performs a variety of tests, including not only electrochemistry but also flow cytometry, imaging, and colorimetric analysis. The result is a complete blood count and a host of other tests that could be conducted within 5 minutes at a doctor’s office, or any other place a blood test is being done, versus being shipped off to a central laboratory.
Do: aim to Make Your Products ‘Invisible’
The most useful technologies are those that can be integrated into our everyday living in such a good way yhat we are not even aware of them anymore. Smartphone are a perfect example of this: we always bring it with us but we kind of forget it’s there when we are not using it. The BAM Labs sensor, which goes under a mattress and monitors whether someone is in the bed, sleep pattern, heart rate, and breathing rate (all with minimal human intervention) is a good example of this, as consultant Mark DiPerri says.
Do: Seek Out Inspired Patients and Innovators to Collaborate With
Inspired patients and their loved ones can come up with some pretty innovative ideas for medical technology for two reasons: they have considerable insights and they are uniquely driven to relieve suffering. Engeneer John Costik, for example, has developed a cluod-based glucose monitoring system to keep his young son under control; despite challenging involved in such project, they are more and more frequent.
Do Not: underestimate hackers
Even if medical device companies are not in the hacker’s radar, it is always better not to let the guard down. Reuters in a private notice from FBI in 2014 said that even if the industry is quite hacker-risk free compared to financial and retail sectors, a ciber intrusion may still be likely and there has already been an infiltration in Medtronic company’s computers, and that two other medical device companies faced similar incidents.
Do Not: Think Humans Always Have a Better Solution Than Mother Nature
From geckos to silk, scientists continue to draw inspiration from Mother Nature. In the medical device field, recent examples of this trend include a squid-inspired injection system and a bioadhesive inspired by barnacles. Simply put: you can’t go wrong in studying the intricacies of biology—especially when it relates to the human organism.
Do Not: Ignore the Expertise of Your Contract Manufacturers
Take full advantage of the expertise offered by contract manufacturers: try to involve them early and often, from design process up to final production.
Do not: confuse Customer with Target User
In the consumer sector the final users are the potential customer; however in the medical device sector this is often not true. Ad Andy Schaudt, director of usability services at MedStar’s National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare , explains, the person buying the end product is often different from the user. In addition, much of the design feedback given to medical device engineers comes from the company’s own sales and marketing, which, of course, is also not the user demographic you ultimately want to target. Also, there might be many target users, like nurses, who might use the device: the product is often used by a team of people and this must be taken into account.
Do not: Assume That You (or Your Client) Are the Expert
Always involve key stakeholders in your development, whether it be manufacturers, distributors, nurses, clinicians, and especially the patient, says Adam Bilney, manager, medical division at Outerspace Design. “Understanding their needs and involving them in the design process will lead to a much more successful product.”
Do not; Let Your Company’s Culture Shackle You
“Ask not what your company’s culture can do for you, ask what you can do for your company’s culture”. Even companies that have a history of embracing quality principles can lose ground. After establishing itself as a manufacturing leader, which helped formulate lean principles, Toyota let its high standards slide in recent years and to this day is dealing with the the ramifications of quality issues from nearly a decade ago. So don’t let “because that’s the way it is” hold you back. If you’re in a company that gives you blowback for that type of attitude, then maybe it’s time to find a better employer – or even try to start a company on your own.