Machine Learning in Medical Device Development and Innovation

The future of machine learning (ML) in product design is exciting and has the potential to revolutionize several industries. Foremost among them is the field of medical devices, which offers seemingly endless opportunities for innovation and an overwhelmingly positive impact on quality of life.
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January 23, 2023

Machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence (AI), allows computers to learn from data, identify patterns, and make decisions without being explicitly programmed. It also allows large quantities of data to be processed quickly, paving the way for fast, creative solutions to complex problems. 

Existing Machine Learning Technologies

Machine learning is nothing new. Several technologies implement it, many of which we use every day.

  • Spam filters
  • Grammar checkers
  • Chatbots

Machine learning accounts for human-like thinking from machines that allows them to perform several tasks. 

  • Understanding and interpreting words written or verbal written or spoken 
  • Cars that drive themselves
  • Object and image recognition   
  • Image creation
  • Coding           

Although the application of machine learning and AI to technology is still preliminary, the technology has already been applied to medical device development. Use cases include:

  • Identifying potential drug targets.
  • Revealing disease markers.
  • Diagnosing and treating illnesses.
  • Aiding in surgical settings. 

Advancements in Machine Learning Lead To Medical Device Innovation

As machine learning advances, the medical device development industry stands to benefit exponentially. Advanced AI-powered systems could detect diseases earlier and more precisely and provide individualized treatments that help doctors make educated decisions for each patient's unique needs. Furthermore, machine learning can also identify patterns in patient data that may result in new medical discoveries and further breakthroughs.

Medical Device Development Companies and Machine Learning

While medical device development companies like Speck Design are not responsible for the algorithms and coding used in machine learning, the products we create often rely on its implementation. ML is fast becoming the industry standard. The most significant innovations in medical device development will almost exclusively include machine learning at their core. Some of the most cutting-edge medical device technologies already incorporate it. Read about a few of those technologies below. 

1. Machine Learning in Robotic-Assisted Surgery

Robot-assisted surgical devices are one of the leading innovations for implementing AI and machine learning into the health sector. Machine learning (ML), in particular, offers several benefits to robot-assisted surgery since machine learning algorithms are excellent at pattern recognition. Therefore when fed medical images and data, this technology helps surgeons identify vital structures and make more precise incisions. This, in turn, makes surgeries safer and results in better outcomes. 

Machine Learning Benefits Surgeons and Patients

In real-time, this could help surgeons make adjustments or take corrective action during procedures. ML could also assist surgeons post-surgery by monitoring patient healing and detecting side effects or complications early. Overall, machine learning means fewer complications due to human error because robotic systems consistently and flawlessly perform complex movements with high precision. They are also orders of magnitude better at predicting outcomes and crunching vast amounts of historical data that human surgeons simply cannot. 

2. Automated Insulin Delivery Medical Devices Using Machine Learning

Nobody knows exactly what causes Type 1 diabetes, but it is believed to be caused by an autoimmune reaction. The body destroys the cells in its pancreas (beta cells) that make insulin. The result is low or no insulin production. This means type 1 diabetics need to make all the decisions about insulin levels and dosing that their pancreas normally would: about 100-200 each day. As you can imagine, this introduces a lot of risk and health issues into the lives of those afflicted by the disease. The fact this disease typically strikes in childhood and adolescence--even more so. 

ML to Prevent Human Insulin Dosing Errors

A misjudgment or missed insulin dose will lead to weakness, dizziness, or fainting due to low glucose levels. Frequent dosing issues can lead to severe long-term complications ranging from cardiovascular diseases and kidney failure or blindness. A small wearable device that monitors and delivers insulin automatically using next-generation machine learning is a game changer.

The Bionic Pancreas and AI

It is known as a bionic pancreas and, in recent studies, has proven more effective than the current standard of care for managing type 1 diabetes. A medical device assisted by machine learning in AID systems management has several benefits. Not only is blood sugar better controlled, diabetics, who spend upwards of 2 hours per day managing their condition, effectively get a large swath of their life back. It also means better insight into an individual's unique condition and AI-driven insights to help clinicians personalize care. 

Smart Stethoscopes Using Machine Learning Save Lives 

Pneumonia is the top respiratory killer of children worldwide, resulting in more than 1 million deaths yearly. However, less than five percent of people in developing nations have access to X-ray imaging. Even in the US, parents of sick children in rural areas have difficulty getting them to facilities where X-ray imaging care for pneumonia diagnoses can occur. Travel time is often prohibitive, and high-tech diagnostics machines are sparse in underserved areas. However, relying solely on observed symptoms leads to overprescribing antibiotics and contributes to the very real and growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

A Medical Device that Learns

Smart Stethoscopes could be the answer to this issue and others like heart murmur detection. It is excellent for eliminating background noise and amplifying the sounds coming from the body, allowing for better overall symptom detection. The machine learning ability of a tool like this can categorize each sound and give diagnoses that will become increasingly accurate over time--as the algorithm learns. Best of all, this type of medical device innovation does not require the finesse or training associated with a traditional stethoscope and is easily portable to remote locations.

AI-Powered Wheelchairs: Future of Assisted Mobility Devices

We've all heard of Smart Cars, but something we may even see sooner is Smart Wheelchairs powered by AI. And they can't come too soon. The ability to navigate one's environment is considered a human right, but laws, technology, and accessibility implementation in public places, still lag behind this idea.

The Benefits of Machine Learning and AI for the Mobility-Impaired

For people with limited or restricted mobility, everyday life can be challenging. Wheelchairs that use machine learning and AI technology have the power to drastically reduce these challenges and improve the overall quality of life. More intuitive and powerful mobility devices are strongly tied to increased confidence levels, self-efficacy, social wellness, and happiness scores among the disabled. Smart mobility devices can likewise have the power to reduce the social stigma around disability while increasing independence and safety concerns for those who rely on them. 

How Smart Wheelchair Work Will Work

Smart wheelchairs will use sensors and cameras that "read" the environment around them. They will be able to detect obstacles, respond to verbal commands, and even recognize faces. Best of all, machine learning (which will become standard for medical devices of all types) will eventually learn a user's preferences and adapt to their very specific needs. They represent significant innovation around assistive technology, unlike it has ever seen before. Short of giving people back their ability to move independently, these machines represent an entirely new life of access and inclusion for the disabled and physically challenged. 

Medical Device Product Design Services in San Jose

At Speck Design, we have been at the forefront of cutting-edge medical device design for decades Our commitment to safe, efficacious, innovative, and inclusive technology is unrivaled in the industry and embedded in our user-centric process. If you would like to learn more about what we do at Speck, reach out to us for a chat. We are a top Silicon Valley product design firm, and we love a challenge!

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