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Why Now Is the Time to Use Advanced Technologies to Remotely Connect Your Medical Devices

By Salvatore Salamone (Sponsored)

IoT offers a way to remotely monitor and manage medical devices, and can enable new business models for device manufacturers.

There is growing interest in using the Internet of Things (IoT) in medical devices. The data gathered with IoT-enabled medical devices-the so-called Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) devices-can be used to remotely monitor and fix devices. The use of IoT brings numerous benefits. Medical device manufacturers can incorporate data collected from their fleet of products in the field into product design considerations. They can also leverage the data to offer innovative services that differentiate them from the competition.

To get a better understanding of how advanced technologies like IoT are being used to connect medical devices remotely, we recently sat down with Rene Zoelfl, Business Development Director, PTC.

We explored the role of IoT in medical devices for remote management, how the technology is being used, how the technology can support new business models, and then covered some real-world examples of the IoMT in action.

What are the key technologies?

RTInsights: How can manufacturers, healthcare facilities, and patients best benefit from remote monitoring?

Zoelfl: I would say remote monitoring gives two main benefits. One is remote monitoring lets device manufacturers optimize their processes, and the other benefit is that they can optimize the relationship with their customers, clients, and patients. These things can help transform the way they are doing business.

What are the key advanced technologies that are enabling innovations in the design and use of remote devices? On one hand, we have IoT technologies that enable connectivity, advanced analytics or artificial intelligence, and the ability to automate decisions and processes to a higher level. The other key element, the other key technology, I’d like to highlight is augmented reality, which gives us a different way, a different capability, to interact with equipment in the context of its use and in the context of the location where it is used.

How are these technologies used?

RTInsights: How can companies use these technologies in the product life cycle?

Zoelfl: There are multiple ways. Where to begin?

A manufacturer can use IoT technologies internally. They can make sure that when teams are working together on the design of new products, they can more easily communicate and get access to the generated data. Then they also could have the same capabilities or the same technologies to use when it comes to handing over that information into manufacturing.

For instance, when a manufacturer thinks about non-conformances that might occur in the manufacturing process, because of maybe some difficult designs, or maybe some materials that they have selected, they can feed that information back into the development and engineering organizations. They can react much faster before the product might have left the company and not when it is at the patient or the caregiving facility.

They also could use it in sales processes. For example, they could use augmented reality to demonstrate a certain asset’s capabilities in the context of where it should be used and without actually having a physical product there. So, they use the product data like CAD data that has been generated. For instance, they can use it and see what kind of planning is needed for that asset to fit in the facility that has been designated to house that equipment. They could also demonstrate what the performance would be, how the device is used, how it can be operated without having a physical asset.

And then, of course, when it comes to optimizing the service processes, I would say this is the biggest benefit for the manufacturer. The device manufacturer can base service on the technology using the connection to the device once it is in the field. They can use that information to optimize their service processes. For example, medical device manufacturers could use IoT technology to observe the devices in the field and do reporting. These processes can automate based on the data that the device is giving us.

The manufacturer also could ensure, for instance, that the service technician dispatched to maintain, update, or fix a device has the right spare part or at least the right information of what should be fixed. Even better, a manufacturer can use the technology to resolve some of the issues remotely without even sending a high-paid service technician to the asset in a hospital. Then they also can use data to optimize the product itself. For instance, a manufacturer could see if the assumptions made when designing the product are still valid. Or is the device, is the asset used as they thought it would be used?

Other issues also can be addressed using remotely collected data about the device. Is it reliable enough from a design perspective? A manufacturer might find that the overall lifetime of the product is much lower than the reliability designed into that product. They can use the data to shift the business models and argue, “Instead of selling the asset to your hospital or your patient, you can pay per use, per treatment, or per image.”

Continued on RTInsights.com.

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