Are There Alternative Futures for Wearable Medical Devices and IoT Healthcare Devices That Can be Addressed in the Present by Medical Device Design and Development Companies?
Fierce Healthcare recently published an article with a compelling question in its headline: “Cash for Clunkers: Could It Work for Legacy Medical Devices?”
Rather than debating the hypothetical—which relates to Cash for Clunkers, an incentivized “federal initiative designed to get safer, more fuel-efficient cars on the road”—in the context of medical devices, perhaps a better question to explore is “How Can Medical Devices be Prepared for the Inevitable Time When They Become ‘Legacy’ Products?”
This question is especially relevant to almost all electronic medical devices—in particular, the newest breeds of wearable medical devices and IoT healthcare devices. After all, the realities of Moore’s Law (for which “the simplified version of this law states that processor speeds, or overall processing power for computers will double every two years”) all but guarantee a compression of the time it takes for an electronic medical device to move from new to legacy status.
According to the Fierce Healthcare article, “the average device life cycle can be as long as 20 years, but most operating systems are just six or seven years.” However, think about how quickly your mobile phone—and its OS—has gone from new to legacy? Granted, although a cynic may say that new mobile phone hardware is typically introduced to satisfy consumers’ needs to simply have a new phone, the realities of Moore’s Law make it possible for that new phone to be marketed as faster and more powerful and so forth.
New electronic medical devices, however, simply cannot be developed and introduced for the sake of being new. Instead, the process for moving a new or existing medical device “from concept to commercialization” can be tedious and expensive—especially if one considers the medical device regulatory hurdles that must be cleared, not to mention the remarkable challenges of getting distributors and hospitals to evaluate and adopt it.
Nonetheless, innovation and technology are always marching on, and it’s path is squarely aligned with new medical device design and development. Thus, as we continue enter what is clearly becoming a new era in electronic medical devices with the surging prominence of wearable medical devices and IoT healthcare devices and their unique sets of challenges (e.g., cybersecurity, connectivity), you can be sure that what’s cutting edge today WILL be legacy tomorrow (well, maybe not that soon, but you get the idea!).
In that context, the alternative hypothetical is again raised: “How Can Medical Devices be Prepared for the Inevitable Time When They Become ‘Legacy’ Products?” Is hoping to incentivizing hospitals to simply abandon old technology for new the answer, or should we—as the medical device design and development community—start anticipating the future (which follows the rhythms of Moore’s Law) and truly support our customers—healthcare providers—for their needs today and tomorrow?
DeviceLab is an ISO-13485 certified medical device development company that has completed more than 100 medical device design projects of varying complexity—including medical device software development and wireless medical device design services for the newest breeds of medical IoT, mHealth and medical wearables.