Don’t Let the Design of IoMT Push Your Buttons – Design Smart with Panasonic’s Electromechanical Solutions
Let us start with some statistics: The World Population Prospects by the United Nations states for 2017 that in Europe 25% of the population is 60 years or over. And that proportion is not changing for the better. In fact, projections are that by 2050 that proportion will reach 35%.
Another alarming statistics is the projected decline in the working-age population (20-59) between 2030 and 2050, meaning that there will be fewer people to support the growing elderly population –financially and otherwise. And this is evidently placing significant strain on modern healthcare systems in order to find a solution that reduces the pressure on healthcare systems whilst continuing to provide high-quality care to at-risk patients. In this context, remote healthcare has become a vital service with the growing rate of senior citizens. Health monitoring, rehabilitation, and assisted living for the elderly and medically challenged humans is an emerging challenge because they require seamless networking between people, medical instruments, and medical and social service providers. Bauer H, Patel M, Veira J. state in their study “The Internet of Things: sizing up the opportunity” [McKinsey & Company, 2016] that by 2020, 40% of IoT-related technology will be health related. Digital technologies and specifically the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) have tremendous potential to help. The convergence of medicine and information technologies, such as medical informatics, will transform healthcare as we know it, curbing costs, reducing inefficiency, and saving lives. How this will change the way patients and doctors interact with each other, and how data on frequencies and doses is collected by IoMT, is illustrated in the picture below:
Designing IoMT Devices for Drug-Delivery Devices
Inhalers are by far the most widely prescribed drug-delivery devices and play an important role in the effective management of chronic conditions such as asthma. These devices can be greatly improved for some – if not all – users by the incorporation of electromechanics and smart technology.
In this context, extensive research and system work addressing the design, and development of mHealth (Mobile Health) based asthma management systems have been seen. Asthma is currently an incurable disease which requires long term treatment and care from both the patient and his/her caretakers. Prevention and long-term control are key in stopping asthma attacks before they start. Treatment usually involves learning to recognize triggers, taking steps to avoid them and tracking breathing to make sure daily asthma medications are keeping symptoms under control. Promising in this regard is, according to S. Deshkar, et al. a smartphone based m-Health System to support self-management, which allows for multiple care dimensions by means of remote collection and monitoring of patient data and provision of personalized and customized feedback. Or more concrete: An inhaler that tracks doses automatically and sends information on frequency and doses to the paired app via Bluetooth. Turning this into reality requires engineers to design an inhaler that is unobtrusive, low maintenance and inexpensive. Devices that are compact and lightweight, with relatively simple circuitry and wireless connectivity fit the bill – which means they have to run on coin cell batteries. Wireless connectivity, such as BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) and ZigBee, may keep the average power consumption down by engaging an extreme duty cycle whereby the radio is asleep most of the time. However when operating, the radio places a relatively high demand on the battery. Because the radio switches on and off in a regular sequence, the demand comes in pulses, which have a more detrimental effect on battery lifetime than a constant load.
And this brings in requirements for highly functional and reliable EMECH components which detect the moment of usage and converts the manual operation, such as pressing a push button to an electronic signal which then activates the wireless functionality. All of this functionality has to take into account that the electromechanical device needs to be as small as possible and has to have a very high reliability plus a very low activation force which supports the one-hand usage perfectly.
As a design question, this has been successfully answered by Panasonic’s Detector Switches especially by the DSW-series ESE13/16/58 which is the smallest available switch on the market. Benefiting from a very low height of only 1.2mm, the SMD type ESE13 series detector switches ensure high contact reliability and functionality. Technical details include a power rating of 50μA 3VDC up to 10mA 5VDC (resistive load), a contact resistance of 500mΩ max., insulation resistance of 100MΩ min. (at 100 VDC for one minute), an operating force of only 390mN max., as well as an operating temperature range of -10°C up to +60°C (standard), and -40°C up to +85°C. A variety of operation and mounting methods are available (operation direction: top/bottom, right/left, bidirectional; mounting type: DIP, SMD, screw clamp). Panasonic’s DSW`s key attributes make them a reliable partner for medical products thanks to their high reliability, long life cycle, corrosion resistance against body fluids and the option of customization.
As illustrated in the picture below, Panasonic’s DSW-series benefits from its double-break contacts, that interrupt the circuit at two points instead of only one and therefore provide a bigger contact surface. Contacts which break appreciable current develop pips and craters after extended use – this is especially the case for push-based switches with a push force that works via a focal point of action. The double-break contacts of DSW-series guarantees much smaller electrical arcs and prevents soiling since the sliding contacts remove dust and oxidation when they mate.
- Consistency in Quality with Simple Structure
- Long Life
- Stable Manufacturing
Adding electronics and connectivity to drug-delivery devices, particularly for drugs self-administered by patients outside the clinical setting, is a trend gaining momentum thanks to the associated wealth of advantages to patients, caregivers, medical professionals, and the greater healthcare system alike. mHealth based on IoT offers a set of services for monitoring and ubiquitous access to the information. Having access to the inhaler usage data enables physicians to base a discussion on actual usage, and focus on behavior changes, possible triggers, and obstacles to adherence. Over time, the physician can also see which interventions are most effective with the particular patient, and which the patient ignores. Electromechanical inputs are the foundation of medical device development. And without a strong foundation, bringing a new product to market can be problematic – this makes the proper use and output of a reliable switch indispensable.