The trend towards personalised medical care, demographic developments and digitalisation constitutes an important driver towards technological advances in the fields of medical technology and healthcare.
Health policies and cost pressures are also pushing progress forward. The field of medical technology has in particular given the micro-technology industry a huge boost with its demand for corresponding solutions. Nearly two-thirds of micro-technology companies in Europe supply products, technologies and services to the medical technology and healthcare sectors. The share of companies that supply primarily to the market for medical technology will increase by another 5% in the next three years.
Microtechnology will therefore also be playing a major role at the COMPAMED 2017, which is the leading international trade fair for supplies to the medical-manufacturing sector. It will be taking place in Düsseldorf alongside the MEDICA 2017 – the world’s leading medical trade fair – from 13 to 16 November.
“Besides digital transformation that has affected all sectors, the miniaturisation of components for creating increasingly handier and lighter product applications also constitutes an overarching technology trend,” says Joachim Schäfer, Managing Director at the Messe Düsseldorf.
Since its launch 25 years ago, COMPAMED has developed into the No. 1 platform for suppliers to the medical technology industry and will this year again be counting almost 800 exhibitors in Halls 8a and 8b (MEDICA: approximately 5,000 exhibitors) at Düsseldorf’s exhibition centre.
The ‘High-tech for Medical Devices’ product market with around 700 square metres and more than 50 companies and institutions (Hall 8a) is again fully booked and is being organised as in every year by the IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik as a special showcase for microsystems destined for medical technology applications.
Measuring blood pressure without cuffs
One important application is the field of so-called ‘wearables’, mobile, almost entirely concealed and very comfortable systems for recording and analysing vital parameters in everyday situations and transferring them to medical experts. The continuous recording of so-called peripheral photoplethysmograms will in future provide valuable information about a person’s health. The information recorded includes the pulse and arterial oxygen saturation, heart-rate variability, respiratory rates and data about vascular stiffness and signs of rising or falling blood pressures.
Elevated blood pressure is currently one of the most serious risk factors for cardiovascular disease which – according to the Deutsche Hochdruckliga (German Hypertension League) – affects around 35 million people in Germany alone. The disease is often detected too late because its symptoms are not always apparent. The consequences are in particular stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and dementia.
Against this backdrop, the possibility of tracking blood pressure continuously without the need for cuffs is one of the most important innovations at this year’s COMPAMED. A team of scientists around project manager Dr Hans-Georg Ortlepp at the CiS Forschungsinstitut für Mikrosensorik (CiS Research Institute for Microsensors) developed the sensor for this application along with the sophisticated method of analysis.
“The necessary raw data is taken from the shape of the pulse wave and its behaviour over time. It is essential in medically relevant applications that the sensor signals are of a high quality and that suitable mathematical algorithms are employed for data analysis,” explains Ortlepp.
CiS has already been working for a good decade on miniaturised multispectral photoplethysmography sensors that are integrated into silicon. The tiny sensors are placed in the outer ear canal and are individually adapted to patients. It is very important that the high-tech components are comfortable to wear as it is this aspect that decides acceptance by users. It is possible to equip the sensors with up to four LEDs that utilise different wave lengths to enable additional vital parameters and data from different depths of tissue to be measured besides blood pressure thus making it possible to eliminate movement artefacts from the signals.