The pandemic has created conditions to accelerate the rise of digital health and the adoption of medical devices. The devices or digital elements being adopted include solutions for teleconsultation, telemedicine, connected devices, remote monitoring, and health apps. Since the pandemic forced lockdowns on people who had nowhere to go, monitoring health parameters has become a challenge. This led to a spurt in online medical consultations through telemedicine wherein medical devices validation assumed critical importance. People, while ensconced in their homes, sought diagnostic services to detect COVID or monitor other health parameters such as blood sugar, thyroid, blood pressure, and others. Even the disbursal of e-prescriptions and the remote maintenance of digital health records have become commonplace.
Patients with existing illnesses or COVID-19 symptoms received online consultations from doctors at their homes to reduce the chances of exposure to the virus. This led them to procure various types of medical devices to monitor their health parameters, maintain health records, and then consult medical professionals. Even though statistics point to the growing adoption of medical devices during the pandemic. For instance, the market size for medical devices globally touched USD 1.7 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 4.9 billion in 2026, at a rate of 24.4%.
Types of Medical Devices Adopted During the Pandemic
No wonder, the rising number of COVID cases and the focus on quality healthcare and patient safety are driving the growth of medical devices globally. The medical devices that have seen an uptick in sales during the pandemic include imaging systems, infusion pumps, ventilators, anesthesia machines, respiratory devices, implantable cardiac devices, and many others. However, to ensure the quality of these devices, manufacturers need to rigorously implement medical device testing in their workflow.
Further, as hospitals became overcrowded and the fear of contagion rose sharply, the medical device market grew exponentially. The need for remote monitoring devices to monitor patients affected by COVID drove the adoption of healthcare connectivity solutions. However, medical devices need to adhere to top-quality standards, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Federal Communication Commission. This is ensured by testing medical devices stringently and, in the process, precluding instances of malfunction or generating erroneous results.
How to Monitor COVID Using Digital Technologies
Both digital health solutions and a surfeit of health information are helping to cope with the pandemic. Conducting epidemiological surveillance based on AI-driven health-related data, in combination with mobile health apps and telemedicine has added to the resilience of the healthcare delivery system. For instance, AI-powered robots dealing with COVID-afflicted patients help to keep human interaction to a minimum. Similarly, AI-powered medical imaging systems play a critical role in the fight against COVID, thereby reducing the pressure on healthcare. Besides, AI-driven medical imaging models have emerged as veritable tools to detect COVID in seconds compared to the manual reading of a CT scan report in 15-20 minutes.
Digital technology has enabled scientists and doctors to share the genetic sequences of the virus to track mutations and the degree of virulence. It has empowered doctors to identify the symptoms of COVID quickly and allowed healthcare centers to treat the disease. This has brought to the fore the need to ensure medical device software validation and help monitor the variables and contain the pandemic.
How to Maintain the Quality of Medical Devices
Given that medical devices play a critical role in the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of patients, their quality needs to be top-notch. Also, given that many people are using a range of medical devices from their homes during the pandemic, keeping patients’ data safe from cyberattacks has become a challenge. This calls for subjecting these devices to stringent medical device testing. The measures to strengthen medical devices from being attacked by cybercriminals are as follows:
- Adhere to the security protocols related to the development of healthcare applications or embedded software in medical devices
- Create a centralized repository to manage information, including patients’ data
- Comply with all regulatory requirements
- To be used, maintained, and calibrated by qualified operators
Medical devices for diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment have found many takers during the pandemic when visiting crowded healthcare centers became risk-prone. If earlier, such devices were sourced by medical professionals or healthcare centers only, this time around, even people outside the medical fraternity adopted them in greater numbers. However, ensuring their quality is paramount as any erroneous readings can lead doctors to make wrong inferences. Hence, medical device software testing should be the norm for such devices before they make it to the market. Any medical device testing company should uphold the quality of such devices at all costs.
Check out all the software testing webinars and eBooks here on EuroSTARHuddle.com