East West Manufacturing Blog

3 Medical Device Trends to Watch Out for in 2016

Written by Mary-Kerstin Hassiotis | January 21, 2016

As technology revolutionizes the world before our eyes, we can't overlook the impact it's having on global healthcare – particularly on the medical device front. From physical devices to the smart systems powering those devices, technological advances are helping connect doctors and patients in new ways, transmit vital data in real time, and identify and treat life-threatening events faster than ever before. Below we highlight three medical device trends that aim to shape 2016 into a smarter, healthier year.

Photo Source

1. Telemedicine Gets Smarter

Telemedicine is not a new concept in 2016, but it is certainly getting smarter and gaining more widespread traction. The idea of remote healthcare services is very 2016, wouldn't you agree? As the population is more connected and on-the-go than ever before, virtual doctor's appointments sound like a practical solution. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, up to 7 million patients will be using telehealth services by 2018. That is a pretty significant statistic. 

As house calls go digital, patients can use IoTdevices to check their own health stats and send information to their doctors in real time. One revolutionary device making waves is the MedWand, which can measure a patient's temperature, pulse and blood oxygen levels, has a digital stethoscope and camera, is portable and can connect with other devices via Bluetooth.

Photo via MedWand

One perk of telemedicine is that people may be more likely to use telemedicine in a situation where they would otherwise simply avoid visiting the doctor (and may end up going to work and infecting coworkers). Another perk is that this leaves room for sicker patients or those with more life-threatening conditions in medical facilities while those with milder conditions can be diagnosed and monitored remotely.

We are creatures of habit and health is not an area where we are as open to change, so it's taking telemedicine a little while to catch on, but many major health insurance companies are now covering telemedicine appointments in their plans. So 2016, right?

2. IoT Moves to Patient's World

We've heard about the marriage of IoT and medical devices, but mostly in the healthcare providers' arenas. However, IoT devices are making the leap to the users' environments for self-monitoring rather than being available only in hospitals and offices. This goes hand-in-hand with telehealthcare (MedWand). Devices can range from wearables to talking devices to wireless monitoring services.

One example of at-home, wireless monitoring devices is the Dario glucometer (pictured below), a pocket-sized meter that wirelessly connects to your phone and provides results in just six seconds. A second example is CargioMessenger Smart, which shares pacemaker and implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) information with cardiologists daily. The device is produced by Berlin-based Biotronik. Expect to see similar smart devices and systems entering the market and gaining traction in 2016.

Photo via Dario

IoT Patient Benefits
The main benefit to patients is convenience (the time to take vitals at home vs. finding time to go to the doctor). People are more willing and likely to take control of and monitor their health if they feel it is easy, convenient and fits into their busy schedules. It's simply a matter of human nature.

IoT Provider Benefits
Patients are not the only ones to benefit from the use of IoT devices in healthcare. Providers are also seeing the sweet side of this technology in a few ways:

  • Real-time, remote monitoring of patients' health
  • Faster response times
  • Limit hospital overcrowding / Free up space for the critically ill 
  • Providers able to see more patients each day

Connected healthcare devices will be game-changing for disease management. As technology advances and prices become more affordable, developing nations that are more prone to widespread communicable disease outbreaks could benefit from these smart devices.

Don't Forget the Apps 
Not only are connected devices making waves, but most of them are accompanied by apps, steering healthcare into a more mobile space with each passing year. The FDA's website states that, according to industry estimates, "by 2018, 50 percent of the more than 3.4 billion smartphone and tablet users will have downloaded mobile health applications." 

While the elderly and baby boomers may still prefer in-office visits, a large portion of the population (think millenials) find apps less intimidating, more user-friendly and generally more convenient. Apps put patients in control, allowing them to check in on their own time and at their own pace.

3. Robot-Assisted Surgery Advances

According to the Mayo Clinic, robotic surgery "allows doctors to perform many types of complex procedures with more precision, flexibility and control than is possible with conventional techniques." The minimally invasive nature of robot-assisted surgery is a key benefit.

This type of surgery became possible with the FDA's approval of the da Vinci Surgical System back in 2000. Since then, the technique has been widely adopted by facilities across the US and Europe.

Source : <a rel="noreferrer nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://www.industrytap.com/minimally-invasive-robotic-system-makes-surgery-work-art/18209">http://www.industrytap.com/minimally-invasive-robotic-system-makes-surgery-work-art/18209</a>

So, what is this 16-year-old technique doing on the 2016 medtech trend list? Two words: Verb Surgical. This robotic surgery and medical device joint venture between Google's Verily and pharma giant Johnson & Johnson aims to revolutionize surgery and operating room efficiency overall. 

According to a press release, “In the coming years, Verb aims to develop a comprehensive surgical solutions platform that will incorporate leading-edge robotic capabilities and best-in-class medical device technology for operating room professionals." 

Verb's fate is unclear at this point, but the hope is that this collaboration between two powerful American companies should produce some exciting results in the near future. 

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