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Medical market warrants investment as expectations rise

November 10, 2010 // Phil Ling

Medical market warrants investment as expectations rise

Suppliers of components and processing platforms targeting the medical market expect to see a return on their R&D investments soon, as the specific demands of these emerging applications creates demand for non-standard solutions, while Continua is seen as crucial in providing the framework for interoperability.

The promise of a long-awaited increase in medical applications is cause for investment from more companies, including Analog Devices (ADI). According to the company, it has significantly increased its R&D spend in developing devices that specifically target the home healthcare market, even though it is still far from certain that it will be commercially viable.

However, the size of this new market segment and ultimately the success of products targeting it will be largely determined by insurance companies. They must be willing to accept that spending money on home healthcare devices will represent less expenditure than providing healthcare administered in hospitals.
Despite this uncertainty Analog Devices, which has traditionally only targeted large medical equipment, believes it is worth the investment, as it is now spending as much on R&D in the home healthcare market as it is on its established vertical application areas.

The cost benefits of healthcare have been promised in the past but have rarely been realised. If the same is true for home healthcare the market may yet fail to take off, however it is widely believed that the corner has been turned. This is in large part thanks to the development of new integrated devices that meet the low cost, low power requirements of portable monitoring equipment and other home healthcare devices.

An example is portable ECG, which is seen as a key application but where existing products aren’t suitable. ADI says it has devoted a lot of R&D effort in developing an ECG function that is applicable to the home healthcare market, by creating a solution that mimics a five to 12 lead system using as few as three leads. With an ultimate objective of creating a leadless solution, low power RF technology will also prove key in this emerging market. Here, alliances including Continua will be relied upon to provide the necessary level of interoperability.

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