Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are crucial in healthcare and medicine. As the industry continues to innovate to provide patients and their caregivers with the best technology, more and more research, treatment, and diagnostic strategies have moved towards automation. As such, more work will need to be performed involving PCB assembly in order to improve medical equipment and devices in the industry.
The importance of PCB assembly in the medical industry will only continue to grow, as the population continues to age. Today, PCBs play crucial roles in medical imaging units, such as MRIs, as well as heart-monitoring devices, such as pacemakers. Even body temperature monitoring gadgets and responsive neurostimulators implement state of the art PCB technology and components. Here, we will discuss the role that PCB assembly plays in the medical industry.
Electronic Health Records
In the past, electronic health records were poorly integrated and many lacked any form of connection. Instead, each was a separate system that handled orders, documentation, and other tasks in an isolated manner. With time the systems have become integrated to form a more holistic picture, which allowed the medical industry to accelerate patient care while also boosting efficiency dramatically.
There have been great strides regarding the consolidation of the information of patients. However, the potential for further advances is nearly endless, as the future will usher in a new data-driven medical age. That is, electronic health records will be used as a modern tool that will allow the medical industry to collect pertinent data about the population; allowing it to ameliorate both the success rates and results of medical treatments on a perpetual basis.
Thanks to advances in PCB assembly traditional wires and cords have quickly become a thing of the past. While plugging and unplugging wires and cords from conventional electrical outlets was the norm in the past, modern medical innovations have allowed doctors to take care of their patients on the go, from almost anywhere on the globe.
In fact, the mobile healthcare market is estimated to be valued at over 20 billion dollars this year alone, and smartphones, iPads and other such devices allow healthcare providers to easily receive and transmit vital healthcare information as needed. Documentation, ordering equipment and medication, and researching certain symptoms or conditions in order to better help patients can all be performed with a few simple clicks thanks to advances in mobile healthcare.
Medical Devices that Can be Worn
The market for medical devices that can be worn by patients has grown at a rate of over 16% a year. Moreover, the medical devices are getting smaller, lighter, and easier to wear, while not compromising accuracy or durability. Many such devices use top of the line motion sensors in order to compile pertinent data that is then relayed to the appropriate medical health care professionals.
For instance, some medical devices will immediately notify the proper authorities if a patient has fallen and injured themselves, and two-way voice communication is also possible so that the patient can respond if they are still conscious. Some of the medical devices on the market are so sophisticated that they can even detect when a patient’s wound has become infected.
With the population rapidly increasing and growing older, mobility and access to the proper healthcare facilities and personnel will become a more pressing issue; so mobile healthcare must continue to evolve in order to accommodate the needs of the sick and elderly.
Medical Devices that Can be Implanted
The usage of PCB assembly becomes more complicated when implantable medical devices are involved, as there is no uniform standard to which all PCB components adhere to. That is, different implants will accomplish different goals for different medical conditions, and the precarious nature of the implant will also impact the design and manufacturing of the PCB. In any event, when PCBs are meticulously designed they can allow the deaf to hear via cochlear implants; some for the first time in their lives.
What’s more, those who suffer from advanced cardiovascular disease can benefit from implanted defibrillators, as they may be more susceptible to sudden and unexpected cardiac arrest that can happen anywhere, or be triggered by trauma.
Interestingly, those who suffer from epilepsy can benefit from a device known as a responsive neurostimulator, or RNS. The RNS is directly implanted into the brain of the patient and can help patients who do not respond well to regular seizure reducing medications. The RNS works by releasing an electric shock whenever it picks up on any unusual brain activity and monitors the patient’s brain activity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Unbeknownst to some, instant messaging apps and walkie-talkies have only been used for a short period of time in many hospitals. In the past, overhead PA systems, beepers, and pagers were considered the norm for inter-office communication. Some experts have blamed the relatively slow adoption of instant messaging apps and walkie-talkies in the medical industry on security questions, as well as HIPAA concerns.
However, medical experts can now use various systems that use clinically-based systems, web apps, and smart devices in order to transmit lab tests, messages, secure alerts, and other information to relevant parties.