Saturday, December 3, 2022

Medical Device Innovation During COVID-19: What’s New?

Technological innovations are often prompted by external circumstances like economic downturns, international conflicts, competition, political pressure, and disease. In particular, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic motivated engineers, innovators, and scientists to design and build new devices to combat the emerging issue.

These innovations helped in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and finding a vaccine for the disease. They also assisted in tracking and diagnosing infected patients and administering treatment.

Apart from the new treatments featured in Canada Health News, recently developed technologies have a hand in addressing the challenges that emerged along with the COVID-19 pandemic, like lack of human interaction while infected patients are quarantined in the hospital. Some of the latest medical devices invented during the pandemic include:

1. Electronic Stethoscopes

The COVID-19 pandemic inspired innovators to develop an electronic stethoscope for medical practitioners’ use, which enables them to perform auscultations on a patient at a distance. Since the virus was being transmitted by close contact with an infected person or surface, the doctors put themselves at a greater risk.

The wireless stethoscope played a crucial role in protecting health workers by reducing their close proximity to patients. The medical team could still carry out their duties from a distance as long as they had a phone. Patients would place the wireless device on their chest, and the doctor would receive auscultations remotely. Owing to its efficiency and reliability, the technology continues to be available post pandemic.

2. Robots

When COVID-19 emerged, many healthcare centers embraced robotics to facilitate communication between doctors and patients at a distance. Other uses of the robots include:

  • Monitoring vital signs
  • Delivering crucial medical supplies
  • Disinfecting surfaces
  • Hastening the production of vaccines, drugs, and diagnostic tools
  • Reminding people of COVID-19 prevention protocols like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing
  • Monitoring patients and updating doctors working remotely or in the hospital

These robots made the work of most medical care professionals easier while enabling them to maintain social distance from infected patients. Moreover, the delivery robots played a key role in accompanying patients in isolation and quarantine because human visitors were not allowed.

Since these developments, engineers and technology innovators have been coming up with other robotic innovations to upgrade telemedicine. For instance, they’re looking for possible ways to design robots to give patients top-grade consultation on emergency problems like burn injuries, stroke, and cardiovascular issues.

3. Contactless Infrared Thermometer

According to medical practitioners, high temperatures (above 37 degrees) and fever were significant symptoms of COVID-19. Therefore, most organizations, supermarkets, and other social facilities employed security workers solely to check individuals’ temperature at the entrances. During the pandemic, if your body temperature was higher than 37 degrees, you wouldn’t be allowed to enter the premises.

One innovation to ease the whole process was the contactless infrared thermometer. The designer made it an autonomous device that can capture the temperature of any individual within its proximity and transmit the data on a website or mobile phones connected to the internet.

Ideally, no one needs to be around to facilitate the process. Thus, it helped reduce exposure to and spread of the virus. The target of the innovation was to track, monitor, and update high temperature and fever cases in high-risk areas like airports, hospitals, offices, and stores.

4. Drones

The COVID-19 pandemic inspired Canadian technology firm Draganfly to develop drones and stationary cameras that could quickly detect individuals with the symptoms of the disease. Moreover, these drones could monitor if people maintained social distance in areas like churches, conference halls, and other large gatherings.

The drones were also helpful in delivering crucial medical supplies to clinics and hospitals. In addition, the developers made drones with speakers to remind people of the quarantine. Although these drones are not essentially a medical device, they played a crucial role in helping the healthcare sector.

5. Remote Patient Monitoring Device

Since social distancing became the new norm during the pandemic, most patients were advised to stay at home unless their medical conditions worsened. They had to do this with proper guidelines and advice on the medicine and treatment to help them manage their disease and feel better.

Staying at home made it difficult for doctors to tell their patient’s medical state precisely.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology invented a remote patient monitoring technology that enables medical practitioners to monitor their patients remotely.

The device is small, and through AI, it can use wireless signals to check the patients:

  • Movement
  • Sleep patterns
  • Signs and symptoms

The medical care professional can monitor and follow up on a patient’s progression by looking at the individual’s walking speed, heart, and breathing rate.

Moreover, the device can detect respiratory issues, insomnia, and anxiety and alert the doctor. The innovators were hopeful that many hospitals would adopt the technology to lighten up doctors’ workload and aid in better remote COVID-19 management.

6. Portable Dialysis Machine

Apart from battling COVID-19, most diagnosed patients suffered acute kidney injury and thus needed kidney dialysis. Unfortunately, emergency doctors reported a shortage of dialysis machines, given the large number of patients.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, patients had to go hospitals for dialysis. This became a challenge when the pandemic started due to the social distancing rule. Nevertheless, a positive consequence is that an innovation was made—a new hemodialysis machine was developed.

As a result, patients who didn’t want to go to the hospital could obtain portable dialysis and use it at home. They only had to book appointments, and the nurses could go to their homes and administer the dialysis. This new treatment option will continue to be used until innovators develop a better dialysis machine.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a lot of changes in the world, and most of these changes are viewed as negative. Nevertheless, some medical device innovations during the peak of pandemic helped ease the work of healthcare experts. These technologies include portable dialysis machines, electronic stethoscopes, contactless infrared thermometers, mechanical ventilators, and robots. Truly, advanced technology is close to magic; it does wonders!

 

 

 

 

 

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