Our Accumold team is rubbing shoulders with the medical technology elite at MedTech Live this week (May 21-23) in Nuremberg, Germany. Because we are so heavily involved in medical technology, wearables, and advanced manufacturing, we just HAD to catch up with keynote speaker, Carolina Mora Lopez of IMEC.
Carolina Mora Lopez holds a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the KU Leuven, Belgium. She currently works as team leader of circuits for neural interfaces at IMEC. As a researcher and analog designer, she focuses on interfaces for neural-sensing applications.
Q&A With Carolina Mora Lopez At MedTech Live
Accumold: Are we at the point where consumer wearable devices are outpacing the diagnostic performance and quality of costly equipment in the average hospital?
Carolina Mora Lopez: This is certainly the case for wearable devices that can permanently detect changes in the physiological signals of the body. Such devices can provide similar signal quality at a much lower cost, while still providing the great advantage of continuous monitoring which is missing in standard hospital equipment. This property is a game changer in the diagnosis and treatment of, for example, heart conditions, diabetes and sleep apnea. However, other more complex medical conditions may still require the use of more specialized medical equipment, for example for imaging healthcare.
Accumold: Is the traditional hospital, physician and clinic setting for check-up purposes on the verge of being disrupted?
Carolina Mora Lopez: Yes, we can see already that wearable devices can provide high-quality monitoring of vital signs, which can be used for early diagnosis of medical conditions, remote patient monitoring and information registry. These are great advantages that will help doctors to make more precise and timely medical decisions beyond the traditional clinic setting. But I would not call it disruption, but rather an enhancement: simple medical conditions can be diagnosed in less time and at a lower cost.
Accumold: What are the primary hardware hurdles that MedTech needs to overcome in order to deliver high-quality diagnostic healthcare, for a low price to a consumer’s doorstep?
Carolina Mora Lopez: Although wearable devices today offer already a great level of technology integration combined with user-friendliness, high performance, and ergonomics, there are still challenges to overcome to deliver high-quality diagnoses.
For instance, a higher level of functional integration may be required to facilitate the diagnosis of complex medical conditions. New sensors and readout electronics are then required to provide this functionality. At the same time, further improvements in power consumption and circuit miniaturization are needed to make sure that wearable devices will remain small and power efficient even with the additional sensing components.
Another major challenge is personalization: not only the software should adapt to the patient and the surrounding environment but also the hardware! Therefore, all the breakthroughs in energy-efficient adaptable hardware achieved in the context of machine learning applications will have a tremendous impact on wearable healthcare.
Photo Credit: Ввласенко CC BY-SA 3.0