MEMS I/O connectors will dramatically change medical technology in 2016 as more patients require treatment both on-site and remotely.
The face of healthcare, as we know it, is changing. Rising costs combined with a substantial increase in healthcare monitoring are forcing a paradigm shift like we have never seen before. While patient care is on the rise, epidemics such as diabetes and heart disease are forcing doctors, insurance companies, and patients to bring their healthcare out of the hospital, whenever possible, and into the home.
The location may be different, but patients still require ongoing monitoring by medical professionals. Traditionally, this meant heavy, large machines with clunky connections, thus forcing patients to change their everyday lives significantly. Nowadays, through the advent of microelectromechanical systems’ (MEMS) I/O connectors, patients are able to bring their technology with them wherever they go, much more easily.
The impact on patient care since the development of micro-interconnect I/O solutions and innovative capabilities is tremendous. According to Sharon Hanik, RN, BSN, CCRN, who works in one of the top hospitals in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, “there are three main systems the medical industry is the most focused on right now. They include: tube systems/EKG machines, electronic charting, and multiple disciplinary access to patient information.
“Regardless of whether your healthcare is in the hospital, doctor’s office, or at home, every patient is impacted by at least two of these technologies. The ability for the caregiver and patient to connect is imperative. Different disciplines must work together to provide the most comprehensive care for the patient. This happens when the equipment is user-friendly, training is efficient, and the size and mobility of that technology works for everyone.”
MEMS I/O power connectors were born out of three codas of care: accessibility, usability, and durability. In the past, the biggest drawbacks to medical equipment were twofold: It was heavy and difficult to use, and it broke down quickly. Equipment downtime causes delays in patient care; for a medical practitioner, this presents a significant drawback, especially in times of critical patient care.
Transport monitors are an excellent example of devices that are clunky and break down, according to Hanik. “They are huge and very little is truly portable about them, especially their connectors and cords. They break often. Today, with iPhones and tablets, we should be enabling our healthcare providers with the best technology available, even if that means a more cost-effective, user-friendly connector system. When we have that, we, as healthcare providers, are able to provide the most expedient and manageable care for the patient.”
Regardless of whether that care is in the hospital or at home, healthcare providers and patients need to understand just how much technology and thought goes into their care. Technology innovators are creating leading-edge solutions designed to maximize the use of equipment while minimizing the strain on employees and patients.
The growing need for portability and miniaturization of medical equipment has led to the creation of MEMS. These systems are now used in many of today’s smaller, portable devices, from EKG machines to diabetic blood testing equipment to pumps which release drugs for patients when programmed with specific, custom protocols.
MEMS technology is now used in a number of biomedical applications as well, from surgical tools to biosensors. It is used in surgical, diagnostic, and in vitro applications to reduce patient discomfort and increase caregiver precision. These compact connectors enable us to live and maintain a much higher quality of life if, and when, we need them. They have a place in the majority of biomedical connections and are found throughout the medical community.
A reasonable replacement for the much larger, heavier connectors of the past, this new breed of ultra-low-profile MEMS I/O connectors lasts longer, is significantly more robust than traditional connectors, and reduces machine downtime significantly. This enables medical professionals to provide an even higher level of patient care that, Hanik says, “is what it is all about.” A flexible and reliable socketed interface through MEMS I/O power connectors means they are significantly more robust than traditional connectors, as well as more efficient.
Microconnectors have not been around forever, but they are making a significant impact in the market. They are enabling doctors, nurses, and patients to communicate more effectively and their convenience is paramount. The future is now with MEMS I/O systems, but how do we improve from here? As more patients bring their healthcare home with them, more and more machines will be designed to meet their needs.
From the nebulizer to the drug pump, stability is key. Hanik says we are halfway there. “We have made tremendous strides in medical care over the years but there is still a long way to go. We need to design our equipment so that it is as user-friendly as possible. This includes the training on how to use it and allowing patients to have a quality of life, which is critical, as is convenience. When these three things come together, patients and medical professionals work together more effectively to make an incredible winning team.”
Author Brooke Greenwald is the president of Cornerstone Communications.