COVID came into our lives in early 2020 like a bull in a china shop, changing the way we live and work in a way that most of us have never experienced before. Healthcare workers, now more than ever, became our frontline heroes, along with those working behind the scenes to discover ways to put a stop to the virus. Not surprisingly, COVID has impacted the production of medical devices, creating both challenges and new opportunities. Here’s a look at 11 medical device innovations that are helping to fight the pandemic.
Companies Impacting Healthcare During Coronavirus
While there has been a big focus on PPE clothing to protect the wearer, AeroShield encloses the patient instead. This disposable, mini pop-up tent covers a patient’s head, neck, and shoulder-level chest area with further coverage of the torso through an integrated drape. The shield is optically clear and has self-closing access points, so medical staff have easy access in and around the patient’s airway. Because it is rapidly deployable, it’s already being used in medical isolation units of armed forces around the world.
Best known in the medical device industry for treatment of sleep apnea and other respiratory diseases, ResMed accelerated the release of AirView in response to COVID-19. Through cellular chips inserted into ventilation devices, this cloud-based patient management system allows physicians to quickly access patient data through an online dashboard. Antoine Valterio, ResMed’s UK and Ireland Country Manager, says: “With COVID-19, clinicians are short of time, so this enables them to ensure the right patient gets the right care.”
This medical technology firm works to help the medical community and their patients by using 3D printing to create anatomical models that are patient-specific. This allows physicians to improve diagnoses and create individualized plans for patients. In the wake of the pandemic, the company began printing parts for COVID-19 test kits, nose swabs, masks, faces shields, and ventilators.
CRISPR, which stands for Clusters of Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, is seen as a powerful molecular tool for editing genomes to correct genetic defects and treat and prevent the spread of diseases. Now, researchers have developed a CRISPR-based method of detecting COVID-19. This “lab-on-a-chip” device could potentially deliver a coronavirus test result, over-the-counter, within 30 minutes, spotting active infections quickly and cheaply through a simple nasal swab.
This mobile app allows doctors to remotely view vital signs through a patient’s smartphone. The app works using light signal processing technology (remote photoplethysmography, or rPPG). This combination of light signal processing and artificial intelligence converts light reflected from blood vessels in a person’s face into highly accurate real-time vital sign measurements, including heart rate, heart rate variability, oxygen saturation, respiration, and stress. These indicators can be early indicators of COVID-19 infection.
When COVID-19 hit, a lot of inferior masks hit the market as well. Mighty Well, a company already well-known for its PICCPerfect® PICC line protectors and medical accessories, wanted to offer something better—and something that would help the immunocompromised. The result? A comfortable, reusable fabric face mask made from the same award-winning antimicrobial silver ion fabric technologies used in their other popular products. The company has since released new Mighty Masks for kids.
Wearables are one of the latest medical supplies, and this wireless patient monitoring system takes the cake. It combines sensors, connectivity, and clinical artificial intelligence within one software platform to collect, analyze, and transform vital sign data into actionable clinical insights to enhance patient care. Today, it’s been named one of the “Top 10 Healthcare Innovations” in the fight against COVID-19 because its wearable body-worn sensors can measure vital signs and indicate the presence of the virus before symptoms are detectable through other methods.
Understanding that medical staff is always vulnerable to COVID-19 and coronavirus medical supplies are always in short supply, PeRSo was developed to offer virus protection. These personal respirators consist of a fabric hood which covers the wearer’s head, and a plastic visor to protect their face. A small portable unit delivers clean air through a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter to the wearer from a battery-powered fan pack mounted on a belt. Today, following medical device testing, more than 4,000 PeRSo devices are being utilized in hospitals.
When COVID-19 hit, the Mercedes F1 team, the University College London (UCL), and clinicians at UCL Hospital went into high gear to produce a new breathing aid to fight the virus. Their Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices help coronavirus patients with lung infections breathe more easily, and facilities have been repurposed solely for their production. “It shows what can be done when universities, hospitals and industry work together for the national good,” says Professor David Lomas, UCL Vice Provost Health.
Developed as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SafeSpace is a small, wearable device used for contract tracing. The device can be worn to passively and anonymously determine someone’s proximity, frequency, and dwell time to others wearing one. It’s ideal for workplaces; should one employee or customer test positive for COVID-19, the online dashboard can be used to identify others who were near them and could now be at risk.
Also known as telemedicine or virtual visits, telehealth was growing in popularity before COVID-19. It allows for patients to consult with a physician, or their own physician, through various telecommunication channels, such as video conferencing. Due to people’s fears around visiting the doctor in person, there has been a major rise in telehealth technologies. In fact, during the first quarter of 2020, the number of telehealth visits increased by 50%, compared with the same period in 2019.
Start-ups and the COVID-19 Recovery
Medical equipment manufacturing news continues to make headlines as we work through this pandemic. While production of non-COVID medical equipment has slowed temporarily, it has also opened the door to new innovations. And, just as they have in the past, healthcare startups may be the impetus that changes our future (check out even more on this list of Startups Fighting to Flatten the COVID-19 Curve). If you’re a medical device or healthcare start-up in need of some marketing support, especially during this time of crisis, contact us at Diberin Solutions. We have worked with numerous medical device start-ups, such as Mighty Well, and we can help you turn your company’s vision into a reality.