After a pause in progress during the pandemic, medical device companies are once again making strides to innovate in many areas of emerging technologies as a way to manage data and perform services more effectively and securely. Some of the most exciting trends to watch in medical device technology right now involve artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and medical robots.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML): New AI and ML tools are increasingly being used to collect, curate, and analyze patient information to increase the speed and accuracy of data analysis while freeing up employees for other crucial tasks. “The new AI and ML features provide workers with new and important insights deriving from the growing amount of data from medical records,” reports Med Device Online, resulting in improved diagnostic decision-making with high levels of precision and more efficient doctor interventions.
Cybersecurity: With emerging technologies comes new and greater security risks, including more sophisticated attacks by hackers, so cybersecurity for medical devices has never been more important. The number of cybersecurity attacks targeting U.S. healthcare organizations “doubled in the first half of 2022 compared to 2021,” according to Med Device Online, which said this increase is mainly due to lack of cybersecurity expertise among employees.
Those purchasing and managing medical devices must be concerned with two aspects of device security, according to product design company Plexus. First, they must understand how devices are designed to control and protect customer information. It’s essential for companies to protect sensitive patient medical information as it is shared within an organization or with other trusted stakeholders. The wider medical networks are, the greater the risk of a cyberattack that can quickly spread from one device to another.
Companies also must have a plan to provide security for medical devices against external threats once put into use. Aside from implementing proven cybersecurity measures such as authentication requirements, limiting the duration of user sessions, and checking for data compliance, among others, some organizations are also adopting blockchain as a solution to enable safe interactions and facilitate secure cryptocurrency transactions.
Medical Robots: When the pandemic prompted shortages of qualified staff due to burnout or other causes, medical device companies invented new robots to help perform tasks, and those robots are here to stay, says Med Device Online. Robots can perform routine medical tasks such as performing venipuncture, monitoring patient vitals, and disinfecting rooms.
Surgical robots in particular are by far the leading category of robotics currently in use, and demand for this technology has seen immense growth in recent years, according to tech trend analysis site Exploding Topics. It is widely reported that surgical robots such as the da Vinci and Hugo systems are becoming more capable and continue to increase the types and level of sophistication of the tasks they perform. This industry is expected to exceed $20 billion by 2028, according to Verified Market Research.
Accelerated Speed to Market
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many medical device companies to learn new ways of accelerating design, development, and testing of products to respond to pandemic threats more effectively, and they now benefit from these lessons when developing new diagnostic instruments. “The life science companies that are prepared to offer that kind of rapidly developed, rapid-response technology at the point of use are the ones who will be better positioned to handle the next global health crisis,” notes Plexus.
Ultimately, though the lessons learned during the pandemic were difficult, they resulted in many useful innovations that will continue to benefit the medical device sector for years to come.