24-07-2018 | | By Nnamdi Anyadike
The medical electronics market is helping to bring about a revolution in key areas such as diagnostics, treatment, assistance and care. The market encompasses wearable gadgets and wireless connected devices, as well as RADAR technology-based ultrasound machines. And according to a new research study published by Global Market Insights Inc., the market is on course to exceed $148 billion by 2024. Advances in technology, along with growing disposable income levels, in developing economies are the key drivers.
Dynamic power path management, remote patient tracking, integrated analogue front ends and tissue analysis of cancer cells are merely the beginning of the sheer range of products and technologies that are on offer. Products that are still in the developmental stage include: needle-free diabetic care; robotic checkups and touch screen systems for treatment rooms.
The main players in the global medical electronics market include GE (which in June span off its healthcare unit to operate as a separate company); Philips; and Samsung Electronics. GE’s Centricity Advance is a fully integrated electronic medical record (EMR), Practice Management, and Patient Self-Service Portal solution that is designed for smaller practices and primary care physicians. Recently the company added an app that will manage image post-processing and allow radiologists and clinicians to view advanced 3-D images anytime and anywhere.
In June, Samsung announced the development of a new ultrasound image processing engine to deliver three-dimensional pictures of various organs or of foetuses. The solution, CrystalLive, was developed in collaboration with Samsung's medical instrument arm Samsung Medison. In a statement Samsung Medison said, "We plan to improve the accuracy and efficiency of diagnosis through the CrystalLive engine and speed up our penetration into university-run hospitals, which call for high-level diagnosis."
In another Samsung development, the South Korean company’s Australian arm has partnered with the Australian residential care home provider, Uniting, to provide dementia patients with virtual reality (VR) and 360 degree video experiences. The aim is for the care home residents to experience places and events via Samsung’s Gear VR headsets. Nick Brennan, associate Professor of the Uniting War Memorial Hospital in Waverley, New South Wales (NSW), commented, “Studies suggest that virtual reality can have a therapeutic effect and stimulate the brain. Providing new adventures for these patients can help to reduce stress and boredom and creates new ways for them to interact with their peers.”
Other developments include the announcement in June by Philips and the medical device manufacturer, ivWatch, of a new technology collaboration. ivWatch’s standalone device has been made compatible with Philips IntelliVue Patient Monitors. According to the announcement the interoperability will enable the integration of the ivWatch Model 400 with Philips IntelliVue Patient Monitors to receive in-room and remote notifications and EMR data capture. ivWatch president and CEO Gary Warren said: “Interoperability with an industry leader like Philips enables IV infiltration alerts and IV assessment data to be more widely available to health care providers.”
Medical electronic devices vary in size from handheld devices right up to heavy base devices. But these heavy base devices can be very power intensive. In June, the Zurich-based Pewatron AG announced the launch of a new range of AC/DC medical power supplies for medical electrical equipment called the MAD100, sourced from the manufacturer P-Duke. It has a regulated output voltage from 12 to 48 V, double MOPP protection and reinforced isolation to the primary circuit (4000 VAC). An important consideration is the low leakage of current. Pewatron says, “The leakage of current is extremely low at less than 75 µA and to protect against electromagnetic interference, an EMI filter is installed.”
Meanwhile, earlier this year Moscow-based Robomed Network (RBN) introduced a decentralised, cross-border ecosystem of healthcare providers. It is based on an open smart contract, which is built on top of the Ethereum blockchain platform, and crypto currency. The proprietary smart contract technology creates a single system of coordinates with clinical outcomes as a reference point. Patients engage with it, via Robomed Mobile or Robomed Web, and the Network is one of the first healthcare users of the Ethereum platform.
RBN issues its own tokens to drive the smart contract engagement between healthcare providers and patients. Clinics accept tokens as payment backed by an RBN guarantee to buy them out at a fixed price. Twenty three clinics around the world have signed on to use the Robomed platform, and now the company is looking to accelerate its growth.
The result of all these various technical and commercial developments is that there is already a plethora of small-sized medical devices for use at home that can be linked to a health centre or clinic. In the coming decade, however, the range of medical electronic products that will become available will be even more vastly expanded.