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Understandably the UK’s healthcare prototype manufacturers want to be part of the next big medical breakthrough. While one fantastic product can indeed change the world, there are currently three important healthcare advances that are set to shape which medical devices will be classed a success in the upcoming decade.
Customisation is a vital theme for all product development, but the opportunity within healthcare and medical device prototyping is huge. For example, advances in robotics and 3D printing have made bionic limb advances possible for the many not just the few. By combining robotics with 3D printing, costs could be reduced thereby making new limbs accessible to a wider group of people.
But that’s not all. 3D printed silicone body parts are set to not only be used within training medical staff but as actual body part replacement options. Noses and ears, for example, can be reverse engineered via old photographs and recreated using 3D printing and silicone casting technologies.
One of the biggest advancements in customised healthcare products, however, does remain within training. Customised solutions for training and surgery prep are likely to be a huge area of innovation for healthcare prototype manufacturers to explore. Patient-specific models of organs, particularly 3D printed hearts, can be quickly created to empower physicians to better understand and practice the vital surgery they are about to perform. This reduces unforeseeable risks since the surgeon is using the patient-specific model rather than an average person’s organ.
With the right data, the right solutions can be found. Wearable tech connected to our phones are no longer just used in the gym but are a key part of our every-day health management. This individual data can be analysed and used for personal healthcare solutions between doctor and patient, but there’s so much more.
Healthcare professionals responsible for large groups of people, such as care home managers, can review data from all of their residents to review, refine and improve overall care. Individual struggles can be flagged and managed, while overall well-being can also be maintained. Nurse call system innovators, Arquella, are empowering UK care homes to lead the way in our data-driven world by combining individual healthcare with data-led healthcare solutions.
And, of course, we can’t review data-driven health without exploring the new possibilities that Virtual Reality (VR) represents. Programmed scenarios are being created for training purposes and a more personalized approach for VR is being explored for patients of rehabilitation centres. A personalised scenario can be created to better empower patients to follow-through with their treatment plan.
Anyone developing healthcare prototypes shouldn’t ignore the opportunity that a cross-purpose device monitoring overall stats and proactively suggesting new healthcare solutions holds for both the immediate future and the upcoming decade.
Healthcare prototype manufacturers utilising new technologies isn’t anything new, but tech adaptations are likely to change how we all view technology advancements. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, the most successful medical devices are set to refine and improve it.
For example, drones have been available for years, but drones being used for good is a growing healthcare solution. In the future, we expect to see drones delivering medical supplies to not only hard to reach places but for urgently needed supplies such as rare blood. While drones are not currently supplying these more specialised supplies, innovators are pushing these boundaries already, adapting this tech to make it possible.
The other area we’re likely to see revolutionary tech adaptations is in surgical equipment. There are already some exciting healthcare prototypes in this field and healthcare manufacturers exploring more opportunities within surgical equipment are likely to do well.
The iKnife, for example, is a surgical knife that scans tissue and detects which of it is cancerous. This “intelligent knife” can most commonly be used for cancers involving solid tumours, such as breast cancer, wherein the surgeon must remove the cancerous tissue by sight which can result in a follow-up operation being needed. Research by Imperial College London found the iKnife diagnosed tissue with a 100% accuracy and provided vital information that normally takes up to half an hour to reveal using laboratory tests.
A recent tech adaptation comes from the NHS medtech innovation consultancy, Health Enterprise East (HEE). The Handytrach’s dilation mechanism gives more control when performing tracheostomies which in turn minimises the need of excessive force. This reduces the risk to the patient and removes the need for the blind insertion of long dilators into the trachea.
As you can tell, the top three medical advances open a wealth of opportunities for healthcare prototype makers. That’s why the material, prototyping and manufacturing technologies will have to include a wealth of options too.
3D printing is already at the heart of several of the customised healthcare products, but it and Low Volume Production technologies can all play an even bigger role in developing the UK’s next innovative healthcare products.
If this sounds like a title you want your product to have, contact our team to receive some prototyping advice and see what it will take to get your idea off the ground.
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