So You Want to Design Medical Devices

Healthcare is often cited as one of the leading applications for the Internet of Things (IoT). Looking around the Web, it is clear that leading high tech companies like Qualcomm, Intel, Cisco, Juniper all have initiatives on healthcare. A notable example is Google, which has already created a prototype contact lens to help measure glucose levels in diabetic patients.

“Better patient outcome” is a goal that all of us can get behind!

But even the most successful high-tech companies are quickly discovering that designing medical devices is different than designing consumer electronics. Designing for the healthcare industry requires extra rigor, insight, and collaboration with healthcare industry experts.

In my neighborhood of Cambridge, Massachusetts, there are nearly 130 biotech firms within 2.5 square miles. It is the largest concentration of healthcare industry in the world. With access to a global pool of academic and industry resources, startups and larger enterprises are marrying high-tech and bio-medical science to deliver innovative healthcare products.

medical device electronics

Courtesy Cambridge Consultants

For example, in collaboration with the Rogers Research Group at the University of Illinois, Boston based MC10 has developed electronic skin, converting your body into a computer. Cambridge, UK-based Cambridge Consultants, which has a rapidly growing office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, also provides innovative bio-medical solutions utilizing wireless communication and sensors.

Because biomedical devices need to meet stringent quality and safety requirements, engineers must fully understand how the devices will perform in the real world — inside the human body. Dr. Arun Subramanian, of Cambridge Consultants, recently shared his insights on “How to Engineer Connected Implants for Optimal Performance”. In addition to listing the challenges and critical success factors, he cites liquid metal antenna technology as a game changer — delivering low-power, high-performance personalized implantable devices.

My colleague, Thierry Marchal, also has practical advice for high tech companies aiming to enter the healthcare market. As a healthcare industry expert, Thierry also endorses some of the same ideas that Arun put forward — consider the operating environment and be ready for regulatory scrutiny.

Having worked in high tech as an electrical engineer, I fully appreciate Arun and Thierry’s guidance. Designing complex electronics for an even more complex human body requires insights that can only be gained through parametric simulation and a multi-discipline approach — close collaboration between healthcare and high tech.  For example, using virtual human body models and accurate antenna design tools can not only tell you what is happening, but critically, why it is happening. Armed with the why insight, you can innovate faster and meet your power, performance, time-to-market, and regulatory compliance objectives.

Learn more about the intersection of high tech and healthcare.