For a patient receiving a medical device or for the doctor who is administering the device, more often than naught, the primary concerns of either party include: “Is this device going to be effective?” and “Is this device safe?” However, what individuals may not consider when asking these types of questions is the extent to which the device designer has already taken into account such concerns. For every medical device that has its own clinical trial or has made it to post-market, there is a team of engineers and designers who make it their job to consider the structural components and environmental factors that will allow the device to remain safe, yet effective. Often times the environment that these medical devices call home is the hospital where the patient was admitted. But as home health care becomes more predominant in today’s society, designers now have a new set of challenges to consider when constructing medical device prototypes.
From glucose meters to oxygen machines, when reviewing the environment of a hospital, a team of engineers will consider factors ranging from how the device is likely to be stored to how the device will be transported through hospital hallways. On the contrary, when constructing a device intended for home-use, the designer must factor in the elements that qualify a patient’s home as a much less-controlled environment than a hospital. These home-specific traits, from pets running through the house to electrical outlets placed next to sinks or bathtubs, force medical device designers to change the criteria which provide a means for creating a safe and manageable device. Furthermore, while a hospital is teeming with knowledgeable medical professionals almost constantly available in case of a question or mishap, an at-home patient is likely attended by only a host of specialist caregivers – ones who might not have encountered every medical device on the market. This means devices must be designed in a manner which is easy to use and are accompanied by instructions that are easy to understand.
Still, no matter what the setting, the upcoming years promise excitement and innovation for medical device designers. For more information on the direction home-health care is heading, check out our previous blog post on Mobile Medical Applications.
Can you think of any additional hurdles medical device designers face in this new age of at-home device technology?
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