Medgadget.com is essentially the "Engadget of the medical world," if that tells you anything. The site bills itself as the "internet journal of emerging medical technologies." Four of its six editors are practicing MDs. I've been privileged to know executive editor Michael Ostrovsky for several years. He's a busy anesthesiologist with two small children who still manages to do all that daily work on the Medgadget site.
He's been a big supporter of the DiabetesMine Design Challenge since Day 1. And we're very happy to have him back as a judge this year. Today, for the fifth in our series of judges' interviews, a few words direct from the medical design world:
DBMine) "Medgadget" sure sounds like the realm of techie geeks. Can you talk a little about the real-world impact of improved medical device design?
MO) We've been techie geeks since childhood, and having played around with so many nifty consumer devices,seeing some of the equipment used in medicine makes us squirm. Lately we've seen a lot more design thinking going into new medical devices, and there's a great impact that's having 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, and smart labeling for easy and fast operation of all kinds of equipment -- this all leads to fewer mistakes and faster application of care when it's most important.
DBMine) What do you think are the biggest roadblocks or challenges for innovators in medical devices?
MO) One issue in medical device design is state regulation that heavily constricts every aspect of medical development. 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.
DBMine) Wow. So from an "outsider's" perspective, what are some of the most exciting things you've seen being developed for diabetes?
MO) Engineers around the world have been miniaturizing all sorts of sensors and devices, and inventing new methods of detecting biochemical changes. All this is clearly leading to the long-sought holy grail of diabetes care -- the prickless glucose meter in the form of something like a wrist watch. A number of companies are using multi-frequency light and tiny high-resolution detectors in an attempt to produce a viable product. Additionally, the latest in wireless communications has allowed for implanted pumps and blood testers to work together, making things a lot simpler for many diabetics.
DBMine) We're honored to have Medgadget as a supporter of the DiabetesMine Design Challenge. What would you most like to see come out of this open innovation competition for diabetes?
MO) Thank you for inviting us!
Of course ideally we'd like to see a number of new concepts introduced into future devices for diabetes. We really feel that consumers have great ideas derived from real-world experience that could be put into practice. We also hope that designers who instinctively think of joining industries like consumer electronics and automotive design would realize the impact they could have through medical technology. And finally, we'd like people suffering from diabetes and other diseases to know that there are all sorts of people working on making their life with disease easier.
Michael, thanks for that reminder. And thanks for understanding the value of real patient input on designing these things.
Editor's Note: As of today, there is just one week left to enter the Design Challenge! We need YOU!