Things to Consider as the Internet of
Things Intersects Medical Devices
We’re on the verge of a fas- cinating intersection—per- haps collision—as the world of Internet of Things (IoT)
technology begins to deeply encroach into
the world of medical device development.
We’ve all experienced the remarkable
impact of mobile apps in our daily lives,
but when the consumer-based IoT begins
to intersect with medical devices, things
are going to get interesting.
Apple’s new i Watch is the latest in a string of sensor-based, connected devices that offer exciting new platforms for medical device development. Developments
in higher-performance sensors that are lower in cost and
power requirements, combined with mobile platforms,
cloud connectivity, and big data can enable the creation
of truly novel devices and systems.
So what does this mean for the medically-focused
design engineer? Big changes and new challenges.
Tantalizing new opportunities are available in connecting medical devices more broadly with patients,
clinicians, health information, and the healthcare
infrastructure. Mobile platforms and accompanying
sensor-based connected devices offer the promise
of unprecedented levels of information, access, and
feedback. When coupled with medical devices, the
opportunity to reduce costs, improve patient outcomes, and positively change behaviors is too great
With this opportunity comes some peril and additional
responsibility for the design engineer. What makes this
particularly complex is how rapidly the technological,
legal, security, privacy, and regulatory landscape is shift-
ing. Here are six things to consider when entering this
brave new world:
1. Have a Reason to Connect Your Device
Start with deeply understanding the need and
make sure you’re delivering a meaningful benefit. Complexity and risk rise dramatically as
you integrate your product so the advantages
of doing so should increase accordingly. Given
the hype surrounding Io T, companies risk rushing to connected products in an attempt to follow trends.
The most successful medical device IoT implementations will have compelling benefits including lowered cost of patient care, demonstrably
improved patient outcomes, and reduced
risk of error, misuse, or missed diagnosis.
Implementations based on the subjective promise of improved quality of life or user experiences are plausible, but might face uphill battles
in the cost-constrained, tightly regulated medical market.
2. Use a Human Factors-Centered Process
Use formally designed and meticulously documented formative human factors studies and human-cen-tered design principles to study users, tasks, tools,
By Dave Franchino, President, Design Concepts
As medical device developers, we’re entering uncharted territory. We have the potential to
transform healthcare, potentially making life-saving services more accessible. That said, prepare for a challenging, bumpy ride. (Illustration courtesy of Design Concepts).