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Embedded Technology Enables Medical Industry to Reduce Costs

In an era of rising medical costs and overwhelmed hospitals, embedded processor companies are working to provide the necessary solutions.  Existing medical technology has been focused on critical care, which is often tackling a patient’s health problems when it is too late to provide a satisfactory resolution, costs are extreme, and the limited time of doctors is further squeezed into lengthy operations.  One embedded processor company, Freescale, is focusing its medical technology around preventative medicine, where the patient is continuously monitored to prevent trouble before it starts.  It also reduces the time spent in hospitals, leaving doctors with more time for their most dire need patients.  With the baby-boomer generation becoming older and aging populations in many developed countries world-wide, the need for preventative care is even more relevant.  Freescale demonstrated some of its medical solutions at the Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) last week in San Antonio, Texas.

During one of the FTF morning sessions, the example was given of Kevin, a hypothetical male who is suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.  Portable devices incorporating i.MX technology from Freescale will allow him to monitor his blood glucose and pressure while he sleeps.  If Kevin eats a sugary snack before bedtime, his tablet in the morning will show him a spike in his glucose levels.  The information is also sent to the cloud, and then is accessible to Kevin’s doctor.  With a quick call via VGO robot, Kevin’s doctor informs him that his elevated glucose levels are not life threatening, but that the late night snacking is not a good habit. Thanks Doc!  It is these kinds of solutions that will reduce a 30-minute patient visit down to a quick phone call, and leave doctors more available for critical care patients.  It should also save Kevin numerous doctor’s visits and cut down on his medical expenses.  In sum, a win for Kevin, a win for his doctor, a win for the medical system, and likely a win for Freescale as well. 

A recent VDC study shows the importance of cost in medical applications.  Asked to rank the importance of selection criteria for their embedded integrated computing systems, the largest group of respondents (31% of respondents) chose price/cost as the most important selection criteria, as shown in the chart below.  This was followed by quality and reliability (24% of respondents), which is obviously essential in a life-critical industry.  The fact that price was ranked higher than quality shows the kinds of pressure that medical equipment designers are under to reduce costs. 

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