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Digitalization of Connected Care

By Jim Thompson Director of Strategy for Medical Device and Pharmaceutical Industries , Siemens Digital Industries Software

A cultural shift is occurring within the healthcare industry, radically transforming the way we view medical needs. A doctor visit will soon no longer be limited to the regional care you receive from physicians in your area. The fundamental principles of what we have known and experienced are being reshaped by digitalization and software-based technologies. Technology is driving this alteration as a transformative enabler to meeting the patient’s healthcare priorities through pioneering technological methods.

Most of us interact with individual physicians relative to our habitational vicinity or recommendations based on a list of required prerequisites. However, technological innovations no longer restrict us to localized, episodic visits, which can only hamper the full availabilities of Medtech (medical care technologies) digitalized services on a global network, providing far-reaching benefits.

Secure cloud platforms provide diagnostic testing and secure digital data for medical scans and lab pathology. Also, connected care via Medtech digital services affords the patient with access to expert consultation, equipped with biomedical modeling, simulation tools and artificial intelligence analytics driven by diagnostic data. The result? Personalized health proposals for additional diagnosis and treatment plans, along with individualized precision medicine for tailored therapies and procedures.

Additive Manufacturing and Connected Care

Additive manufacturing (AM) is driving the charge of this connected wave in a myriad of ways. Firstly, twinned patient anatomy provides surgery and treatment planning, along with educating the patient. Secondly, specific cases with unique challenges gain the benefit of anatomical models with global printing capabilities.

So, instead of a patient spending money, time and effort in traveling to a world-class care facility in Switzerland or other parts of the globe, the patient’s digital twin travels virtually via the cloud where it can be visualized, analyzed, printed and operated-on remotely, providing guidance to local physicians.

Individualized Accuracy, Anywhere

Premium quality with personalized service equates to profound accuracy, resulting in patient-specific methods for surgeries, productivity, efficiency and risk reduction. Moreover, 3D modeling combined with patient-specific engineering of the design and manufacturing of surgical instrumentation is performed in centralized global locations.

When medical images and pathology data are transferred to a centralized office, engineering-to-order work is performed by experts, and then outputs are electronically reviewed and approved by the patient’s local surgeon, prior to 3D printing and shipping.

Additive Manufacturing Medical Implants

Uniquely benefitting from 3D technology, medical devices need organic shapes and methods to adapt to personalization – requiring significantly more complicated structures than typical engineering parts or tools. So, additive manufacturing of implants, instruments or prosthetics adapts devices to a patient’s anatomy for optimized therapies/treatments with more positive outcomes.

For example, when receiving a knee replacement, it’s not just about finding an excellent anatomical fit, but matching the implant to the purpose. Thus, the bionic anatomy is simulated to validate adequate performance for its intended use. Also, the simulation provides feedback for modification of implant shape, or positioning, to achieve optimal targeted performance, providing an example of where technology today meets tomorrow.

Solutions Find Connectivity

Cloud-based connectivity is here via digital health platforms, providing the pushing and pulling of data securely while adhering to regulatory compliance. These platforms are continuing to develop and advance with Medtech companies and applications, providing global reach of expertise and value for any Medtech company, large or small. 

The impact of additive manufacturing on this platform can’t be overstated, with an end-to-end additive process. Moreover, use of advanced design tools tailored to additive manufacturing will enable production volume at scale, lattice structures and shape optimization algorithms, resulting in light-weight, robust, strong components.

Manufacturing tools built for additive manufacturing programs simulates the additive process, predicting and optimizing quality and accuracy, thus maximizing print machine capacity utilization. The healthcare industry is at the inception of radical changes for providing life-changing, personalized services to the patient.

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