Russian-born Michael Ostrovsky is a board certified anesthesiologist, practicing cardiac anesthesia here in the San Francisco Bay Area. He's one of the few MDs who's not only extremely web-savvy, but is actually part of the Health 2.0 and Social Media movement as co-founder of Medgadget.com, sort of the "Engadget" of the medical technology world. Lucky for us, he's also a fixture in the DiabetesMine Design Challenge competition.
Want to know what's new with medical innovations? Just ask Michael...
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MO) Anyone who has played around with many nifty consumer devices will be dismayed to see what we use in medicine. Lately, however, we've witnessed a sort of resurrection in medical device design. Nowadays, we are seeing a lot more thinking going into designing new medical devices, and that is having a great impact on patient care. From software interfaces that are similar to at-home applications, to comfortable handles on devices and buttons imported from the cell phone industry, to smart labeling for easy and fast operation of all kinds of equipment, new designs lead to fewer mistakes and faster application of care, when it's most important. Then we also see an explosion of mobile technologies, such as mobile phone applications designed to improve disease management or prevention, or even mobile medical devices that can make the lives of patients so much more convenient or even safer.
In your opinion, what makes a product geared for patients' personal use a winning design?
We think that the formula for a winning medical design is no different than for consumer products. Obviously, given the strict regulatory scrutiny, medical devices have to be clinically tested and designed for specific indications. But things like usability, reliability, ergonomics features, and others, once put together, should win a patient-consumer.
Have there been some great examples of "killer apps" (you should excuse the expression) for chronic disease management?
Of course! We are in the middle of a mobile tech apps epidemic, excuse the expression. There are so many applications for the iPhone, Android, and other platforms, that many years from now historians will say that today was the time that changed people's lives. We have on-the-go calorie counters, drug dose calculators, mobile pacemaker monitors, arrhythmia detectors, fetal heart rate monitors, and many more apps for mobile platforms. And when it comes to servers and desktops, the field is brimming with innovation.
Thanks to today's computer power, we see so many breakthroughs in software for radiology, telemedicine, and medical informatics.
Last year we asked you about the biggest roadblocks or
challenges for medical innovators. Has anything changed on that front?
Unfortunately, not. The persistent issue in medical device design is state regulation that heavily constricts every aspect of medical development. As we said before, the design is a part of a device's functionality, which itself is a derivative of approved clinical indications. And as time passes by, we see more and more regulation coming from bureaucrats in Washington. So companies are primarily focused on issues of approval and meeting strict specifications.
Additionally, purchasing decisions are often made by people who don't use the equipment themselves, and medical technology has been approached like the manufacturing industry, where utility is almost the only factor. Because of this, designers rarely consider the medical device industry as a potential source of employment, and ignore the huge impact it is having in the lives of millions.
We're again honored to have Medgadget as a supporter of the DiabetesMine Design Challenge. What are your aspirations for this year's open innovation competition?
Same as last year. The basic concept of the competition is quite simple: bring on ideas that will make the lives of patients with diabetes better. Give us breakthrough technologies, prototypes, and concepts that will change the lives of diabetics, and we'll make you a winner!