Category Archives: Medical

Healthcare firms go for the hybrid cloud approach with compliance and connectivity key

Commentary by James Bourne, Editor-in-Chief, TechForge Media for Cloud Tech News
18 February 2019, 14:02 p.m.

 

It continues to be a hybrid cloud-dominated landscape – and according to new research one of the traditionally toughest industries in terms of cloud adoption is now seeing it as a priority.

A report from enterprise cloud provider Nutanix has found that in two years’ time, more than a third (37%) of healthcare organisations polled said they would deploy hybrid cloud. This represents a major increase from less than a fifth (19%) today.

The study, which polled more than 2,300 IT decision makers, including 345 global healthcare organisations, found more than a quarter (28%) of respondents saw security and compliance as the number one factor in choosing where to run workloads. It’s not entirely surprising. All data can be seen as equal, but healthcare is certainly an industry where the data which comes from it is more equal than others. Factor in compliance initiatives, particularly HIPAA, and it’s clear to see how vital the security message is.

Yet another key area is around IT spending. The survey found healthcare organisations were around 40% over budget when it came to public cloud spend, compared to a 35% average for other industries. Organisations polled who currently use public cloud spend around a quarter (26%) of their annual IT budget on it – a number which is expected to rise to 35% in two years.

Healthcare firms see ERP and CRM, analytics, containers and IoT – the latter being an evident one for connected medical devices – as important use cases for public cloud. The average penetration in healthcare is just above the global score. 88% of those polled said they see hybrid cloud to positively impact their businesses – yet skills are a major issue, behind only AI and machine learning as an area where healthcare firms are struggling for talent.

It is certainly an area where the largest vendors have been targeting in recent months. Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced in September a partnership with Accenture and Merck to build a cloud-based informatics research platform aiming to help life sciences organisations explore drug development. Google took the opportunity at healthcare conference HiMSS to launch a new cloud healthcare API, focusing on data types such as HL7, FHIR and DICOM.

Naturally, Nutanix is also in the business of helping healthcare organisations with their cloud migrations. Yet increased maturity across the industry will make for interesting reading. The healthcare IT stack of the future will require different workloads in different areas, with connectivity the key. More than half of those polled said ‘inter-cloud application mobility’ was essential going forward.

“Healthcare organisations especially need the flexibility, ease of management and security that the cloud delivers, and this need will only become more prominent as attacks on systems become more advanced, compliance regulations more stringent, and data storage needs more demanding,” said Chris Kozup, Nutanix SVP of global marketing. “As our findings predict, healthcare organisations are bullish on hybrid cloud growth for their core applications and will continue to see it as the ideal solution as we usher in the next era of healthcare.

“With the cloud giving way to new technologies and tools such as machine learning and automation, we expect to see positive changes leading to better healthcare solutions in the long run,” Kozup added.

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash
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Disrupting the Outsourcing Model

Steve Maylish and Shannon White, Fusion Biotec – 01.31.19
Contributors to MPO Columns

The rise and relative success of companies dealing in cloud-based systems has revolutionized how we handle data. This is prompting a shift away from traditional software, hardware, and legacy systems, and enabling companies in new and unexpected ways. As cloud-based data systems rise to meet the needs of the modern world, will legacy systems eventually become obsolete? How will this change outsourcing?

In last June’s MPO 15-year anniversary issue, we looked at medical device outsourcing changes over the last 15 years. The industry changes cited were mostly based on OEM attitudes, improved quality and standards, increased competencies, and a growing willingness to outsource. Now we are in the midst of a new paradigm shift. Examples of this are everywhere: Netflix versus Blockbuster, Amazon versus retail, AirBnB versus hotels, and Uber versus taxis—just to name a few. Since the advent of cloud computing, disruption has accelerated. As traditional business models change, will medical device outsourcing experience disruption?

There are great advantages and disadvantages associated with cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS)—some of them more real than others. SaaS delivered via the cloud often doesn’t require users to load, maintain, update, migrate, partition, archive, audit, backup, or license software. It often costs less, reduces the need for IT services and hardware, and is easier to use. But what about the downside? Security, always-on availability, performance at scale, enterprise compliance, and data integrity are important for cloud services. These features are essential for the cloud business model.

First let me share a success story: Salesforce, which launched in 1999. It initially offered a simple, low-cost, cloud-based system to service small and medium-sized companies, but now have disrupted the customer relationship management (CRM) industry. Eventually, Saleforce’s CRM software outsold IBM, Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft. By building a cloud-based system and offering SaaS, users can collect, categorize, analyze, and distribute information on product sales, customer purchases, and sales staff performance. The information can be shared across sales departments, supply chain, management, and executive teams. It can be used on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Cloud computing provides shared infrastructure and instant scalability. Salesforce provides continuous improvement for their services.

According to “disruptive innovation” theorist Clayton Christensen, “Disruption describes a process whereby a smaller company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge established incumbent businesses.” This is certainly true of companies like Netflix or Uber. In fact, a number of industries have been disrupted by SaaS and cloud computing: HR services, payroll services, booking systems, project management, IT, accounting, CRM, software, and eventually medical product outsourcing.

For a healthcare provider like Kaiser Permanente, big data can be complicated and an impediment to change. Sam Gambarin, director of the Cloud Services group at Kaiser Permanente, said, “We wanted to provide our [software] developers with a standardized central platform and shorter time to market. Also, we wanted to optimize our existing systems of records.” To achieve this, Kaiser uses a hybrid cloud solution: an internal data center and external cloud provider with IBM Cloud, plus multiple SaaS providers.

Providence St. Joseph’s Health system uses the cloud-based electronic health record from Epic because its interoperability enables them to practice better medicine, receive appropriate reimbursements, and improve patient experience. For decades, there were failed startups in the healthcare interoperability space. Migrating electronic medical record management to the cloud now provides a viable solution.

While cloud migration is happening at large healthcare providers, disruption is more likely to come from startup companies like Bright Health, Devoted Health, Clover Health, and Oscar Health—Alphabet’s $1B+ investment. These “payvidors” offer patient-centric care designed to support and monitor patients by using data science to cut costs and promote preventative care. Some work with prescription services. Others use genomic data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to promote health. Some offer in-home primary care programs and house calls.

On the medical product outsourcing side, consider contract engineering. Before the cloud, engineers and hobbyists with small budgets couldn’t afford most professional engineering design software like SolidWorks or Cadence. Now, a number of SaaS companies like Onshape or CircuitMaker offer inexpensive or free software that allows designers to share their work and build on others’ work, decreasing time and reducing risk. The continuously growing database eliminates the need for footprint design for common parts. This open-source approach has helped the maker community flourish in recent years, building on the efforts of companies like Raspberry Pi and Arduino to make powerful hardware building blocks widely available.

For mechanical design, Onshape is a SaaS model created by former designers of Solidworks, a legacy software package. Unlike Solidworks though, Onshape updates itself silently every two weeks and is billed per engineer at a low monthly fee. It holds major advantages over its predecessor with its ability to be used in real time by an entire design team located anywhere with a network connection. Import and export capability allows Onshape to ease the transition from legacy systems.

Disruption will happen in the industry as free, open-source development software is introduced to hobbyists and later works its way through commercial businesses. With cloud and SaaS, multiple people can view a file at once, reducing the amount of time spent on editing. Users can share the document with a large number of people through their browsers, inviting them to view and edit the document in real-time. Furthermore, any edits to the documents are saved automatically as the author types, which prevents accidental loss of data.

Concerns about data integrity during the switch to cloud-based systems are natural and bound to arise. Questions regarding security, accessibility, and cost are among the most asked. Data safety is one of the most prevalent concerns and why most cloud service providers make security their top priority. Cloud infrastructure is constantly monitored, while controlled access to data and frequent auditing reduce the risk of human error and flaws in security protocols.

One company facilitating migration to the cloud is Corent, whose SurPaaS platform analyzes and migrates software applications to the cloud and can even rapidly transform the software application to a SaaS model. Scott Chate, vice president partner and market development at Corent Technology, predicts, “The ongoing global transition to the cloud-based SaaS model is going to affect every industry.”

In a few respects, however, cloud fails to meet the precedent set by its legacy predecessors. Cloud software is often not as refined as older legacy software. Due to this, experienced legacy users often balk at using the new software. Furthermore, cloud systems are often heavily dependent on network reliability and bandwidth. Any outage can leave companies stranded without access to data. Most drawbacks to cloud programs, however, are mitigated by their higher processing power (provided from running on a server) and ability to efficiently update.

It was easier for our company to start in the cloud and incorporate SaaS into the business model. The cloud offers us many advantages. We can securely work from anywhere, using any computer or mobile device. We can leverage previous design work. Reliability is extremely high because cloud providers can invest in infrastructure. Data is stored in a centralized facility with stronger security measures than we could provide on our own, and files can be downloaded when needed. It’s simple to add, remove, or change software and users. Total cost is lower because we require less physical infrastructure and support staff. Our customers’ experiences have changed the way we connect and collaborate, how we do business and, by default, how we innovate. Ultimately, we are more efficient.

Engineering service providers launching new companies today can begin in the cloud, requiring less physical infrastructure and support staff. However, the industry is just beginning to shift from legacy software to SaaS, which won’t be easy for established medical device companies. Eventually, it will transform contract engineering and contract manufacturing services as they migrate to smart manufacturing. Cloud computing is so disruptive because it pressures entrenched firms to modify their business model, often involving changes to business strategy, revenue models, sales channels, and technology.

Jeff Hawkins, president and CEO of Truvian Sciences, reveals, “When Truvian decided to leverage engineering partnerships, we didn’t want to outsource in a classic sense but rather find partners that could operate as an extension of our team. In order for that to be successful, you need a partner with the right company culture and the right tools to facilitate real time collaboration, regardless of where the teams are physically located. New technologies are allowing us to collaborate digitally with our partners on everything from engineering designs using Onshape, to project planning using Smartsheets and general project file sharing using tools like DropBox or Box. These tools make it possible for anyone without training to participate in the process from any location with the [use] of software viewers.”

Technology is evolving faster than ever and business models are changing. The cloud is more secure, cost-effective, and accessible than alternatives, and it’s getting more powerful every year. There are now millions of students using the cloud exclusively. This upcoming generation lives without many past computer constraints.

Like the education system and numerous other industries, the cloud is beginning to disrupt medical device outsourcing. Entrenched companies with legacy systems currently have the high ground, but the cloud is changing everything. With today’s services, remote teams can connect instantly. Cloud services allow for SaaS usability without downloads or installs. Cloud providers make instant scalability possible. Cloud computing and SaaS provide hosting, backup, and security running on various operating systems and mobile apps. If you’ve ever been frustrated with IT requests, firewalls, or internet controls, there’s good news—a solution is on its way!


Steve Maylish has been part of the medical device community for more than 30 years. He is currently chief commercial officer for Fusion Biotec, an Orange, Calif.-based contract engineering firm that brings together art, science, and engineering to create medical devices. Early in his career, Maylish held positions at Fortune 100 corporations such as Johnson & Johnson, Shiley, Sorin Group, Baxter Healthcare, and Edwards Lifesciences.

Shannon White is an engineering student, SaaS user, and intern at Fusion Biotec.

27 Military technologies that changed civilian life

Adrian Willings – Contributing Editor for Pocket-lint | 2 February 2018

The old saying goes that necessity is the mother of invention and when countries go to war, it’s the one with the best technology who’s most likely to win. Survival of a nation and victory can depend on the technology their military uses in combat.

Over the years before and after the invention of Nuclear weapons and the race towards the semi-peace that comes with mutually assured destruction, nations have created incredible technologies all in the name of war. These technologies later found their way into civilian life and have improved the world as a whole.

War might be a necessary evil in some cases, but the research and development that comes along with it has improved our lives in a number of surprising ways over the decades.

We’ve been through the history books to collate useful tech that started off life on the battlefield but we now take for granted in our everyday lives.

ARPANET; Coolcaesar [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 15

The internet

The World Wide Web that we know and love originally started life back in 1977 in the form of its forefather the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). This network technology, along with TCP/IP became the technical foundation of the Internet as we know it today.

Before this time, development of computer technologies were advancing to a point where in the 1950s a concept was required for a wide area network to connect computers in science labs. It was the Cold War though that led to the need for ARPANET and the beginning of the modern internet.

About the image – Left, a 1977 diagram showing the structure of the ARPANET network. Right: Berners-Lee’s first-ever web server at CERN.

USAF; Nachoman-au [CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 16

GPS

After World War II and the space race that came shortly afterwards, it wasn’t long before mankind started sending satellites into the atmosphere. In the 1990s, some of these satellites would be used for a space-based radio navigation system that was originally owned and operated by the United States government.

This system was perfect for keeping soldiers safe on the battlefield but also for identifying targets, improving mapping, tracking plane trajectories and more. As the technology expanded and improved it has moved into the civilian world too.

Now we’re used to having GPS in our everyday lives – including navigation in our pocket thanks to the invention of GPS capable smartphones.

About the image – An artist’s impression of the Navstar-2F satellite and a modern-day maritime GPS receiver.

Evan-Amos; NASA/Eugene A. Cernan via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 17

Duct Tape

The Duct Tape we know today comes in a variety of forms of strong, durable and highly adhesive tape that’s multipurpose and can be used for a number of day-to-day applications. The original Duct Tape was invented as a necessity of war. During World War II, an adhesive tape was invented that was made from a rubber-based adhesive applied to a durable duck cloth backing.

This tape was capable of resisting water and dirt and was strong enough to be adapted for a number of uses including repairing military equipment, vehicles and weapons. The idea originally came from the thought that seals on ammo boxes would cost soldiers precious time on the battlefield that might also cost them their lives and something new was needed.

The resulting product has improved over the years, so much so that Duct Tape has built up a name for reliability and durability and was even used by NASA during space flight. You’ve probably got some in your house too.

About the image – Duct tape can be used to repair virtually anything as demonstrated in this 1972 Apollo 17 mission shot.

Bukvoed [CC BY 2.5] (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 18

Drones

Nowadays drones are such a common sight that regulating them has become a headache for governments and there are all sorts of consumer drones available whether flying for fun or for professional photography and videography.

The humble drone began life as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). These pilotless air vehicles were remotely controlled to survey battlefields or go on missions deemed too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for human beings. The idea for drones started well over a Century ago when Austria sent unmanned bomb-filled balloons to blow up Venice in 1849. Technology has progressed a lot since then. Nazi Germany pushed the technology forward during WWII with a number of UAVs aimed at dealing out death, but the US Military is perhaps most well-known for its drone use in more recent years.

Since the 1990s, UAVs have been used to launch Predator and Hellfire missiles to attack ground targets during a range of conflicts. It is now thought that over 50 countries have employed military drones in one form or another since 2013. Now the skies are full of drones, many with cameras for capturing leisure activities.

About the image – Israel’s Tadiran Mastiff drone is seen by many military historians as the world’s first modern military drone. 

NOAA’s National Weather Service; Bidgee [CC BY 3.0] via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 19

Weather Radar

Radar is another technology we take for granted in everyday life. It’s also another one that began its inception in the 1800s when German physicists discovered that radio waves could be reflected from solid objects. This knowledge was later used during WWII when Watson-Watt made advancements in the technology that allowed Allied forces to use radar for air defence during the Battle of Britain and beyond.

During World War II, the people operating the radar machines discovered that weather could hinder the readouts and cause echoes on the machines. As radar evolved the technology developed to allow scientists to study the data then detect and decipher the weather. This allowed for a prediction of weather including rain, snow, hail and more.

Modern weather radar is a lot more accurate and helps in the prediction of weather for the days and weeks ahead.

About the image – Left, Hurricane Abby approaching the coast of British Honduras in July 1960. Right the Bureau of Meteorology Berrimah radar, in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Acroterion [CC BY-SA 3.0]; Pamperchu [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 20

Microwave ovens

The radar technology developed during World War II was later adapted for different uses. One of these included the production of technology capable of creating electromagnetic waves on a tiny scale – hence “microwave”. That technology could be used to rapidly heat and cook food by passing microwave radiation through it. This radiation causes the molecules in food to vibrate and heat quickly.

The original range of microwave ovens were named Radarange and sold in 1946. They were too large and expensive for most consumers. It wasn’t until 1967 that they started to become commonplace in commercial and residential kitchens across the world.

About the image – Original Raytheon Radar Range oven on the NS Savannah in Baltimore. Right: a domestic 1971 radar range.

NASA; Naval Intelligence Support Center, via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 21

Digital cameras

Digital camera technology originally started life in early spy satellites where they were used to capture high-resolution aerial images of enemy installations. The technology progressed in the military sphere, especially during the Cold War and in the 1970s the first self-contained digital camera was created. This early technology would take years to progress into the DSLRs we use today, now digital photography is everywhere, even in our pocket.

About the image – Left, the design of the KH-11 was believed to be based on that of the Hubble Space Telescope (pictured here in 1985). Right: A leaked digital image of the Nikolaiev 444 shipyard in the Black Sea taken by KH-11.

The National Archives; Via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 22

Computers

The original technology for computers was a lot more archaic than it is today. The original computers used punch cards and mechanical looms to solve problems. The technology improved at greater speed during World War II though, when an electronic digital programmable computer named Colossus was invented to help decipher messages sent by the Nazi encryption machines.

These computers were a small part of helping the Allies win the war and kick-started the age of the modern digital computer. In the decades that followed, technology has vastly improved and shrunk greatly, with computers even fitting in our pocket.

About the image – Left, Colossus in action at Bletchley Park in 1943. Right, The American ENIAC in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Ballistic Research Laboratory in 1947.

British Government; Gaius Cornelius, via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 23

Jet engines

Inventor Frank Whittle was working on a design for a jet engine during the late 1920s and filed an official patent in 1930. But it wasn’t until the later years of World War II that jet engine technology would advance in leaps and bounds.

In 1944 the world’s first jet-fighter aircraft took to the skies in the form of the Messerschmitt Me 262. Luckily for the Allies, production was limited due to the shortage of supplies and materials and this invention wouldn’t help Nazi Germany win the war.

In the years that followed, jet engine technology continued to improve and is now a common staple of planes in the skies above us.

About the image – Left, Frank Whittle at the Ministry of Aircraft Production ion 1943. Right, Whittle’s W-2 jet engine, used to power the Gloster E.28/39, the first British aircraft to fly with a turbojet engine.

Alfred T. Palmer, via Wikimedia Commons; Courtesy of United States Rubber CompanyMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 24

Synthetic rubber tyres

Historically, vehicle tyres were manufactured using natural rubber with suppliers from Southeast Asia. During World War II when Japan occupied that region supplies were unavailable to Allied forces and they were forced to adapt. Industrial manufacture of synthetic rubber tyres was therefore required to counter the problem.

Synthetic rubber is now used for all sorts of applications but continues to be used in the tyre industry.

About the image – This sheet of synthetic rubber coming off the rolling mill at the plant is now ready for drying, B.F. Goodrich Co., Akron, Ohio in 1941. On the right, a 1944 United States Rubber Company advert for Fighting Tires.

Courtesy of the Archives of the city of Kingsport; Super Glue Corp.Military technologies that changed civilian life image 25

Superglue

During WWII scientists were employed to find a material suitable for creating clear plastic gun sights for weapons. During that process, these researchers made an accidental discovery of a substance that would stick to everything it came in contact with and Superglue was born.

It was rejected for military use, but was later sold commercially in 1958 and famously used to suspend a car from a crane to demonstrate its adhesive capabilities.

About the image – The now famous 1957 demonstration of the strength of Eastman 910 adhesive which gave to the rise to the modern day hanging-car logo on the tube of super-glue.

U.S. Army Signal Corps; Christopher Ziemnowicz, via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 26

The Jeep

The iconic Willys Jeep is an instantly recognisable vehicle with a distinct shape. The Jeep was a multi-purpose and fully capable four-wheel drive vehicle that was designed to be used in all theatres of combat during the second world war. It was the primary vehicle of the United States Military and its WWII Allies and continued in popularity in the years of peace.

About the image – A U.S. Army Willys MA jeep is put through its paces in 1942 and on the right an open-topped V6 CJ-5 in 2008.

Jpbarbier Jean-Paul Barbier [CC BY-SA 3.0]; Paul Mashburn [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 27

Canned food

Keeping troops fed, supplied with ammunition and with ready access to medication is an essential part of successful warfare. Starving soldiers are not effective soldiers. The idea of food that could last longer and go further is not a new concept. In around 1810, the French government offered a large cash reward to anyone who could come up with a cheap way to preserve large amounts of food. One investor discovered that food cooked inside a jar did not spoil unless the seals leaked and so sealed food containers were born. These were ideal for supplying troops – though somewhat cumbersome.

In later years, canned foods took over. During WWI soldiers generally survived on rations of low-quality canned foodstuffs including corned beef, canned sausages, pork and beans and the like. Production of canned food allowed commanders to transport great quantities of food for troops to survive on.

Canned foods made their way in the civilian markets and became a staple of grocery store and supermarket shelves for years to come.

About the image – A Napoleonic era Appert canning Jar is pictured next to a 1966 shot of U.S. Airman’s C-rations

Wikimedia Commons; Science Museum London / Science and Society Picture Library [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 28

Penicillin

During World War I Alexander Fleming served as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps during which time he witnessed many deaths of soldiers from sepsis resulting from infected wounds. The Antiseptics of the time were not effective and actually did more harm than good, especially with deep wounds.

In later years Fleming discovered a type of mould that was releasing a substance that was inhibiting bacterial growth. That substance was later named penicillin and was mass-produced in the years that followed, successfully treating injured soldiers during WWII.

About the image – Alexander Fleming, who first discovered the mould Penicillin Notatum, is seen in his lab at St Mary’s, Paddington during WWII. On the right, a sample of penicillin mould presented by Fleming to Douglas Macleod, 1935.

Courtesy of Mapplin & Webb27 Military technologies that changed civilian life image 2

Wristwatches

Some of the first wristwatches were worn by soldiers and military men in order to allow the synchronisation of military manoeuvres on the battlefield without alerting the enemy. The importance of this synchronisation was recognised throughout the military organisations across the world and popularity began to spread. Later, wristwatches made their way into civilian life where they transformed into fashion accessories before becoming part of everyday life.

About the image – A press image shows three original Mappin & Webb Campaign watches, two Boer War examples owned by Officer Halpern, who is depicted in the portrait (top and middle) and one First World War example (bottom). On the right a vintage advert for the Campaign watch.

Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection; Staff Sgt. Erik Cardenas, via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 4

Walkie-talkies

The classic walkie-talkie, like many things on this list, started life during WWII. It was initially developed for infantry use, then for field artillery and tank crews to provide convenient communication on the battlefield.

In peacetime, the use of walkie-talkies spread into civilian life starting in public safety, appearing on job sites and more. Now they’re available to purchase in a variety of forms including for private personal use.

About the image – A sergeant at Fort Myer, Virginia demonstrates a “walkie-talkie” in the field in 1942. On the right A U.S. Marine, with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Battalion Landing Team 1/4, radios in medical evacuation details during a downed-vehicle exercise in 2013.

Wikimedia Commons; Courtesy of Wehrmacht history.comMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 5

Night vision

During WWII, the German Army was the first to develop military night vision devices. By the mid-1940s, the first night-vision scopes and rangefinders were mounted on Panther tanks and made their way onto the battlefield. A smaller, man-portable night-vision system was later mounted onto Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifles taking the first steps towards widespread military use.

Night vision is now making its way into the civilian world in cameras and even being installed in modern cars to improve safety at night and make all our lives a bit easier.

About the image – On the right a WWII era “Vampir” man-portable system being used by the Wehrmacht. On the left a set of modern panoramic night visions goggles.

Courtesy of the University of Minnesota; Gift of U.S. Department of Agriculture, through Dr. Arno ViehoeverMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 6

Wound dressing/Sanitary napkins

Ben Franklin originally invented pads to help stop wounded soldiers from bleeding while they received medical treatment. In later years, this simple invention was adapted and changed to help women coped with their menstrual flow.

Things have changed a lot since then. The original menstrual pad manufacturers were also bandage makers, which gives an idea of what they were like initially.

About the image – A 1923 Kotex advert sits alongside a 1920 box of Sphagnum Moss sanitary Napkins.

USGS Public DomainMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 7

Jetpacks

In the years around WWII and after, the US military invested time and money in research into personal jetpacks and propulsion devices. The initial intention of these devices was to allow easy reconnaissance of enemy positions and installations, but also to quickly and easily get soldiers out of harm’s way. In later years, there were many attempts to create jetpacks for personal use in the civilian world.

About the image – On the left, the 1957 jet vest, on the right, Bill Suitor geared up and ready to demo the Rocket Belt for NASA and the USGS – circa 1966.

Via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 8

Freeze drying

The process of freeze-drying was originally invented in 1906 but it was put to increased use during WWII when blood serum was freeze-dried in order to the prevent it from spoiling during transport. This allowed for medical treatment of the wounded and saved countless lives.

In the years that followed, the freeze-drying technique developed further into the processing of food, manufacture of pharmaceuticals, manufacturing of ceramics, production of synthetics and much more besides.

Wikimedia Commons; Courtesy of Mylan.comMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 9

EpiPen

The original EpiPen started life in the military as an autoinjector intended for use by soldiers in the event of exposure to chemical warfare toxins and nerve agents. The design allowed for fast, safe and easy injection of essential medication with ease. This technology made its way into the civilian sector with hand-held devices intended to be carried by those with severe allergies for fast injection of Epinephrine in emergency situations. Countless lives have been saved since.

About the image – On the left the original military auto-injector used for rapid administration of nerve gas antidotes. On the right the civilian application of the technology for the administration of adrenaline to relieve allergic reactions.

Arche-foto, Burkhart Rüchel [CC BY-SA 3.0]; Naval Surface Warriors [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 10

Jerrycan

The jerrycan was originally designed by Germany in the 1930s for military use to hold 20 litres of fuel. This new design was a leap forward as previous designs required tools and funnels to use and were cumbersome when what was needed was convenience. The robust jerrycan design has been popular ever since.

About the image –  On the left two WWII era German fuel containers. The one on the right is the now-classic Wehrmacht-Einheitskanister made by Nirona in 1941. In the picture on the right, a near identical canister can be seen on the rear of the Japanese Defence Force vehicle in 2012.

Ministry of Health; U.S. National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons;Military technologies that changed civilian life image 11

Blood banks and transfusions

The carnage and devastation of the First World War saw the need for the rapid development of blood banks and transfusion techniques. Canadian Lieutenant Lawrence Bruce Robertson was the first to push for the adoption of blood transfusion techniques to help save the wounded. The success of his techniques led to increased use.

The very first blood transfusions had to be made from person-to-person due to issues with coagulation. Transfusion techniques and storage solutions quickly improved and blood banks were set up to help with casualties.

Medical advances soon saw the techniques move into the civilian world where transfusions and donations continue to save lives even today.

About the image – Left, a WWII era information poster issued by the Ministry for Health. On the right, Private Roy W. Humphrey of Toledo, Ohio is being given blood plasma after he was wounded by shrapnel in Sicily in 1943.

T5C. LOUIS WEINTRAUB; NASA/U.S. Army, via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 12

Space Programme

During WWII, Nazi inventors worked on creating various long-range rockets for delivering explosive payloads to enemy targets. These were the first steps towards putting a man-made object into space. After the war, the US took those German scientists involved in the V2 rocket programme back to the states to help them win the space race and to be the first nation to reach the moon.

Space travel has since become a passion for many, including Elon Musk and more. Travel into Earth’s orbit has also been used for commercial purposes with satellite navigation systems, satellite television and satellite radio all coming about thanks to the first developments.

About the image – On the left German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, with a broken arm, surrenders to allied forces in 1945. On the right the July 1950 with the launch of the first rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida: the Bumper 8. Shown above, Bumper 8 was an ambitious two-stage rocket program that topped a V-2 missile base with a WAC Corporal rocket.

Rich Niewiroski Jr. [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons; 1986 Paramount PicturesMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 13

Aviator sunglasses

Aviator sunglasses were originally developed in the 1930s for use by military pilots to protect their eyes while flying. They replaced the classic flight goggles and had many benefits over them too – being lighter, thinner and snazzier too. Eventually, the aviator sunglasses produced by the company behind the original pilot’s glasses were trademarked as Ray Bans and have since risen to iconic status in the civilian world.

Wikimedia Commons; Look Sharp! [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 14

Ambulances

In around 1487, the very first ambulances appeared on the battlefield. They were used by the Spanish army to pick up wounded soldiers from war zones. They weren’t usually sent in until after the battle had finished though, so many died waiting to be saved. In later years, horse-drawn carriages appeared in greater numbers working more effectively as ambulances and rescuing people quickly from active battlefields.

Ambulance use changed greatly when motorised vehicles were introduced and they quickly made their way into civilian life too.

About the image – On the left American Zouave ambulance crew demonstrating removal of wounded soldiers from the field, during the American Civil War. On the right a 1970’s era British Air Force Landrover Ambulance.

Mixed Reality and the Future of Healthcare

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For budding surgeons, being able to view a surgery is essential, as no amount of reading or studying can replace seeing surgeons in action. However, finding time to observe a surgery in progress can be difficult, as space is limited. With MR technology, surgeons can stream their actions live, greatly expanding their audience. Furthermore, surgeries can be recorded routinely, with surgeons saving those that were noteworthy in some way. Surgeons share their techniques with each other, and their experience helps hone the art. With routine recording, surgeons will be better able to collaborate and develop new techniques.

Better Imaging

The benefits of MR extend into offices. Professionals often view medical scans on computer screens and use a mouse and keyboard to manipulate the image and zoom in on certain areas. MR technology can track where a user is looking and respond to gestures, providing a more natural way to analyze an image. Furthermore, many modern imaging processes create 3D images. Through MR, users can visualize depth in a seamless manner. Even more mundane tasks can be aided by MR technology. Loading and modifying electronic medical records can be a somewhat cumbersome process, but new means of interacting enabled by MR can save time.

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CT scans are often a significant source of distress for patients, as the noise and enclosed nature of machines can lead to claustrophobia. Through MR and other technologies, medical experts can provide a simulation to help patients know what to expect. Furthermore, MR, along with AR and VR, can be used to help patients relax or distract themselves while being scanned. Simple being able to watch a movie or play a simple game can help patients pass the time and remain still while lengthy scans are underway. These benefits can improve overall medical treatment, as patients sometimes skip medical sessions and may decline helpful tests or therapies due to discomfort. Improving compliance is a powerful tool for improving patient outcomes.

Streamlining Care

Receptionists, nurses, doctors, and other professionals need to coordinate with each other in hospitals and clinics. Working as a team can be a challenge, and professionals often rely on multiple devices for communication and recalling charts and other data. By standardizing on mixed reality devices, health centers can provide a seamless means of communication and ensure everyone can send and receive notes instantly. Furthermore, MR devices can record and share voice communication, making it quicker and easier to send voice notes that can be heard between visits to patients. With MR technologies, health centers can allow healthcare professionals to spend more time with patients.

Many modern VR and mixed reality devices have a battery life of approximately three to four hours, so doctors would likely need to swap batteries or devices during long shifts. However, this problem will no doubt improve significantly in the future, and the technology will become far cheaper over time. Regardless of the limitations, however, MR is already is use around the world for a range of medical tasks. As medical professionals become more familiar with the technology, patients can expect to see headsets in hospitals and clinics on a regular basis in the near future.

MedTech manufacturing trends to watch in 2019

By

Andrew Potter Bonifacio Consulting Services

“There’s a way to do it better. Find it.” — Thomas Edison

Medtech manufacturing professionals incessantly strive to find ways, as Edison encouraged, to do things better. Here are a few manufacturing trends to keep an eye on in the New Year. Some aren’t entirely new (though they continue to evolve), while others are just beginning and may be truly transformative.

 

Many deeply intertwined variables affect the business side of the medical device contract manufacturing sector: global markets and currency fluctuations; shifting clinical needs and varied patient populations; insurance, reimbursement and payment policy; raw material pricing and sourcing; manufacturing costs and margins. Those are just an important few. But what about manufacturing processes and technologies?

Automation and the Internet of Things (IoT)

Robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence are reshaping automation, allowing companies to improve quality, maximize value, keep costs down or offer new services. As automation costs continue to drop and robots become more flexible and able to take on more tasks, justifying automation for lower-volume and lower-margin projects becomes easier.

Automation and the Internet of Things (IoT) overlap somewhat. Companies may gather operational data and analyze and leverage valuable information from manufacturing processes to change their organization and product development. Advanced analytics help to identify patterns and prerequisites for workflows and processes, such as preventative maintenance.

Automated manufacturing execution systems (MES) automate data collection into existing manufacturing resource planning/enterprise resource planning (ERP) structures. An MES can track and document the transformation of raw materials to finished goods, providing information that can help improve plant conditions to improve output.

Many companies use ERP software systems such as IQMS that show the status of all molding machines including uptime/downtime/cavity utilization, etc. Sensors and data collection will continue to expand into more areas of the plant and enable better decision-making based on real-time data, which can give a full picture into manufacturing processes, employee efficiency, and production planning effectiveness.

IoT can also help to maintain quality. Sensors can monitor humidity, ambient temperatures, water and other elements that could harm the quality of parts.

Companies need to ensure they are collecting relevant, accurate and useable information. Information should not be collected simply for the sake of collection.

Additive manufacturing

Medtech manufacturers have been quick to embrace additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, for prototyping, tooling, and in limited cases, final production. Factors such as speed, secondary processing, and appropriate materials still curb massive adoption. Despite current limitations, benefits include:

• Time to market: Improved and rapid prototyping make it easier to test concepts, designs, usability, etc.
• Manufacturing efficiency: Customized and manufactured fixtures, jigs and mold inserts easily improve manufacturing operations.
• Improved designs: 3-D printing enables designs and components not possible with conventional manufacturing methods.
• Customized products: Surgical tools, implants, and other 3D-printed components could improve patients’ lives and make healthcare professionals’ work easier.
• Cost reduction: Costs should come down as components are manufactured as needed, and there should be fewer complications as the one-size-fits-all approach disappears.

Most of the initial excitement around medical additive manufacturing has focused on metal products such as implants. On the plastics side, much of the energy is still on 3-D printing for educational purposes and prototyping of customized anatomical body parts such as the heart. But plastics also are being used for customized surgical tools, braces and continuous positive airway pressure (or CPAP) masks used to treat sleep apnea. Ceramics are also being used to replace/strengthen bones, particularly in dental applications.

3-D bioprinting is an exciting and potentially life-changing technology in which biological materials are printed and then grown in “bioreactors” to create artificial tissues and organs. This is an emerging technology and not something that we expect to see in any large-scale manufacturing environments in the near term—but the potential is impressive. Additive manufacturing can also be used in the pharmaceutical sector to customize pills to individual patients’ time-release needs.

As in most new innovations in healthcare, it will take time before significant amounts of medical products manufactured by additive manufacturing will be realized. Regulations, training, confirmation of costs and efficacy, as well as the conservative nature of healthcare, all contribute to slow adoption.

People: The most important tech

Medtech manufacturers need to know how to find and recruit a new generation of talent for highly technical areas as well as for the shop floor. While they’ve begun to seek out people already working in the industry, recruiting to less urban settings has proven difficult with millennials and younger workers.

Many manufacturers who work with community and technical colleges to provide hands-on opportunities with good future prospects, and may help reverse public impressions of dirty, low-paying jobs on the verge of being sent offshore. Medtech manufacturing workers are more likely to specialize in research and development, engineering, automation, quality, and operational excellence.

U.S. manufacturing apprenticeships are making somewhat of a comeback, particularly in tooling, maintenance, and processing on the shop floor, automation, and quality. The number of American apprentices increased from 375,000 in 2014 to 500,000 in 2016. The federal government predicts 750,000 by the end of this year, helped in part by expanding the apprenticeship model to include white-collar occupations such as information technology.

Andrew Potter is managing director of Bonifacio Consulting Services.

The opinions expressed in this blog post are the author’s only and do not necessarily reflect those of Medical Design and Outsourcing or its employees.