Over the last decade, the electronic equipment being used in the medical industry has flourished.

Thanks to the rapidly expanding capabilities of Industry 4.0 technologies like the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G networking, electronics manufacturers and medical electronics developers can now take healthcare to a whole new level.

Incorporating advanced electronics and technologies allows the healthcare industry to benefit from rapid progression in diagnosing illnesses, administering medication and monitoring patients more closely — and here is how…

Remote patient monitoring (RPM)

Wearable RPM devices enable health professionals to observe patients between health visits or when in-person care is not possible, gathering necessary data and making adjustments to improve their quality of care.

Continuous tracking benefits patients with ongoing care needs, such as those with heart conditions, asthma and, more recently, long COVID, helping them self-manage their conditions and allowing medical professionals to gain around-the-clock insights into patients’ health.

For example, blood pressure monitors feature photoplethysmography (PPG) technology, which uses optical and inertial sensors to detect blood flow patterns automatically. The readings from these devices give patients the power to make informed choices about their diet and activities to improve their health between appointments.

Stretchable electronics

Like wearable RPM devices, stretchable electronics are used in the healthcare industry to detect and monitor things like diabetes and heart conditions.

However, rather than the complex electronic components of these computers, sensors and other technologies being held within hard outer castings, they are now being incorporated into electronic devices that can stretch with the skin.

Stretchable electronics combine silicon-based computer circuits with flexible substrates — often made from silicone or polyurethane — which can move without impacting the functionality of the circuitry. In their simplest form, the familiar components of a printed circuit board (PCB) are placed on or embedded in an elastomer.

Take diabetes, for example. Stretchable electronic patches can increasingly detect accurate blood glucose levels in sweat and, potentially, deliver the required medication on demand.

Looking ahead to even more advanced applications, stretchable electronics allow for the development of soft robots, which could perform procedures that are minimally invasive and highly precise…

Robotics and automation

The main advantage of modern robotics is the ability to automate repetitive and high-volume tasks to a high degree of accuracy, increasing productivity and minimising human error.

These features are especially beneficial for the healthcare industry. With the current shortage of UK caregivers, robots are starting to assist with many facets of patient care. For instance, robotic systems like drug infusion pumps dispense correct doses of medication automatically, alleviating pressures on medical staff and eliminating human error.

As AI, wireless networking and natural language processing capabilities improve, we can expect to see robotics in more medical applications where automation can bolster efficiency without compromising accuracy…

Eventually, soft robots (which mimic human movement) could even be used for tasks like surgery, patient rehabilitation and assistive technology for people with disabilities.

Designing quality electronics at Swan EMS

The healthcare technology market is exploding — with revenue projected to reach £480.51 billion ($579.40 billion) this year.

As the market grows, there are many considerations for electronics manufacturers when producing advanced healthcare technologies for the medical sector — but perhaps none more important than how to guarantee performance quality.

PCBs are the backbone of any electronic medical equipment, where 1oC or 1 cm in error could be the difference between life and death. PCBs and other electronic components or products used in this field are, therefore, held to stricter quality standards to ensure reliability and optimum safety.

At Swan EMS, our customers in the health sector have come to rely on our expertise, knowledge and meticulous quality control processes for their projects — as we seek to continually innovate and improve patient care by delivering quality and cost-effective electronics manufacturing services.

Certified by ISO 9001:2015, this standard demonstrates our ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and applicable regulatory requirements. Plus, it validates that we are fully focused on the stringent regulatory compliance demanded by the healthcare industry.

The uses for pioneering electronics manufacturing are constantly evolving. Yet, one thing never changes: our uncompromising dedication to quality…

To discover how our PCB assembly and other electronics manufacturing services can support your healthcare technology project today, get in touch at  +44(0) 1495 320 989 or email  info@swanems.co.uk.