The modern medical landscape would not be where it is today without the rapid progression and innovation of medical technology (or ‘MedTech’).
We discussed the use of electronics in soft, flexible technology back in October. This piece outlined how electronics are being more widely incorporated into wearable and implantable MedTech. However, electronics are also used in larger medical units such as imaging systems (CT, MRI and PET scanners), sensors and monitors, diagnostic tools and critical equipment like ventilators.
Modern machinery can now perform functions such as breathing and blood oxygenation where a patient’s own body fails, and hospitals across the UK are kitted out with a range of high-tech equipment to monitor patients’ vital signs closely.
So, where do electronics come into play?
PCBs in lifesaving machinery
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) can be found in every electronics product, and healthcare is no exception. Specialist machinery used in the medical sector is able to progress thanks to PCBs, in turn improving the quality of care for patients.
PCBs are the backbone of any electronic critical-care equipment, where precision and reliability remain a priority, and 1oC or 1cm in error could be the difference between life or death. Ventilators and heart monitors are prime examples of machinery relying on the accuracy and consistent performance of PCBs. Without high-quality, reliable components, medical equipment could fall short when it’s needed most and have life-threatening consequences.
As can be expected, the quality of PCBs and other electronics in the medical field is held to a more stringent standard than for alternate applications. The implications of inaccurate sensors or faulty manufacturing are amplified when the health or safety of a person is at such heightened risk.
The significance of precision…
Heart monitors and ventilators alike work on sensors connected directly to a circuit board. Specifically, in the case of ventilators, flow sensing technology is central. Everything requires exceptionally close monitoring including gas concentration, altitude and pressure. The quantity and mixture of gases and all pressure gauges must be precisely controlled to the patient’s specific needs.
As well as the safety of the sensors integrated in these devices, any data gathered needs to be analysed and processed correctly. Connectivity, therefore, plays a significant part in the design of these types of equipment.
Doctors, surgeons and other healthcare professionals also rely on the information of advanced scanning machinery to guide treatment plans. Whether it’s an MRI scan or an X-ray, the findings from the scan must be accurate and reliable to know what steps to take next. The data produced by this equipment is the determiner for specific diagnoses and remedies, so fine-tuned PCBs are vital for ensuring consistent performance and, ultimately, driving the right decisions.
The IoMT and remote care
The role of electronics such as PCBs in The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is also progressing. IoMT allows for machine-to-machine communication and a network of hyper-intelligent devices that can track and monitor patients remotely, alerting the right people when required. There are situations where administering this kind of remote care could prove invaluable in saving lives.
EC Electronics has worked in the MedTech industry for many years. We are constantly reviewing processes and investing in the latest equipment to ensure the quality of all our components and products reflects our meticulously high standards.
The team has seen huge shifts in electronics over the years, particularly in this area, as we continuously look to the latest developments, innovations and methods to level up performance.
To find out more about our capabilities within MedTech, please get in touch today.