Thinking about Life Sciences
Monday, February 18, 2008
Innovations Galore Spawning From 2008 Medical Design ExcellenceAwards (MDEA)
I’m here now in Los Angeles serving as a judge in the 2008Medical Design Excellence Awards(MDEA),which is a premier competition for medical products, devices and technologies. I also published a column on
.We actually haven’t finished our deliberations yet, and even if we had, I wouldn’t be able to tell you aboutthe winners.Winning products will be announced in the April edition of
Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry
(MD&DI)magazine. The winners will also be presented with gold- or silver-level MDEA trophies at the competition’sceremony in June, which will be held in conjunction with the Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) EastConference & Exposition being held in New York City.Suppliers to MDEA-winning products are also named as official suppliers to 2008 MDEA winners and arepermitted to use a special logo in association with their products.We have observed some significant and accelerating trends among the technologies we’re seeing. While wesee these trends embodied in individual products, they also represent significant changes that we’re seeingin how medicine is being practiced and how health care is being delivered. Among these trends, we see:Increasing use of wireless technologiesMore point of care and home-based technologiesClose integration of diagnostics and therapeutics”Disintermediation”
There’s no surprise here. Wireless technologies (including Bluetooth in selected cases) are being increasinglyimplemented among medical technologies. As a consequence we are going to see less and less wires strungabout the hospital, the OR and the doctor’s office.Again, without giving away details, we are seeing wirelesspatient monitors, wireless cardiac monitors, wireless sensors of various sorts. This is not a new trend butnevertheless one that is accelerating. In addition, we have seen with some of the products submitted anemphasis on reliability and seamlessness in the wireless connections which appears to have been a problemin first generation products.
More Point of Care, Home-Based Technologies
We are seeing more and moreproducts that bring care directly to the patient instead of requiring transportation of the patient or theblood/tissue sample, etc. to a centralized, separate facility. We have seen, for example, a truly portable CTscanner that can literally be pushed around like a frankfurter cart (without the umbrella, of course) aroundthe streets of New York.Another (not to be underestimated) advantage of such technology is that it effectively “disintermediates” (see below) some processes in health care. In other words, the ability to have an intraoperative CT obviatesin some cases the need for a follow-up CT scan and then a potential second operation.Miniaturization has been the major enabling force behind this trend. Another example we have seen is ahandheld ultrasound machine that makes possible the closer integration of ultrasound into the physicalexamination of the patient rather than relegating the ultrasound study to a later time at a different facility.We also saw another device, for example, that allows clinicians at the bedside to ascertain with a handhelddevice (that’s connected to a PDA) the presence of a brain hematoma (bleeding around the brain) withouthaving to transport the patient to a CT scanner.
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