Medical electronics market: let care and technology work together

Different from any electronic technology, medical electronics is a topic of common concern to the whole society. According to IBM's latest advertising campaign, 30% of the data capacity in the future comes from medical information . IDC expects that by 2011, the world will generate 1,800,000,000 TB of data, which is 1.8ZB, 30% of which means that the annual medical information will exceed 5ZB capacity. How to collect and process this data is undoubtedly the future. Medical electronics must be considered.

How to care for extension

Such a large scale of medical information has undoubtedly fueled the rise of the medical electronics market, and has been widely concerned by semiconductor manufacturers during this special period of the economic crisis affecting the entire industry. If IBM's predictions are true, medical electronics may even have potential to surpass communications and PCs to become the largest semiconductor. Application area. The excitement of the global medical electronics market is due to the advancement of electronic technology and the following social changes: (1) The aging of the population, the proportion of the elderly population in the world increased from 11% 20 years ago to 2007 20%. (2) The health concerns brought about by the improvement of people's living standards have increased, and people's expectations for health care have continued to increase. (3) Insurance companies and employers are gradually reducing the payment and insurance coverage of medical expenses, but the health care costs of insured persons or patients are increasing. (4) Advances in science and technology have allowed some minor diseases to be analyzed, prevented and treated in the home, which is far more convenient and cheaper than going to the hospital.

With the evolution of the objective environment and the change of people's health concepts, medical electronics will present the following development trends.

First of all, the large-scale medical equipment that was originally used in large hospitals will show trends such as miniaturization, low cost, and ease of use to meet the needs of the construction of primary medical institutions. On the other hand, large equipment is moving toward higher performance, higher channel density and speed, which not only helps to better diagnose, but also improves the efficiency of the equipment, which brings economic benefits to the hospital. Good image. As consumers have a higher demand for healthcare services, the need for high resolution and 3D imaging applications to replace 2D monochrome image devices will be even stronger.

Secondly, in order to adapt to the network construction of the medical system, from the perspective of long-term development, the connected data platform has become very important. The data platform involves the requirements for two technologies: communication and data formats. Interoperability can only be achieved between medical devices and with other sources of information only by establishing appropriate standards. In this regard, the industry has established an industry organization called Continua Health Alliance to conduct standards selection and interoperability guidelines. In addition, with the development of the medical industry , many insurance industries that are originally considered to be marginal industries in the medical industry , such as those related to home health care systems, will increasingly participate in the construction of medical undertakings. However, this is an emerging development goal for the healthcare system and the information technology industry as it has not yet achieved widespread interoperability.

Third, with the aging of the population, home monitoring applications are also a trend. In addition to the home use of blood glucose and blood pressure testing, it is expected that future devices such as ECG will also enter the family. This will allow more participants to come in and develop different business models. In particular, portable devices that measure blood sugar, blood pressure, etc., can easily provide health monitoring and provide preventive measures at home. This will result in strong demand for low-power, low-cost portable medical electronics.

Finally, in the global market, scientists and commercial enterprises have invested heavily in biomedical fields in recent years, which is another application area for the growth of high-performance and high-reliability medical electronic devices. John Di Cristina, director of marketing for Maxim Medical Electronics, emphasized that the trend in medical device development is to gradually “close” patients, mainly in two areas: one is the diagnostic test equipment from the clinical laboratory into the doctor's office or the bedside; The popularity of home monitoring equipment. This development trend can bring many benefits to patients, not only improve the quality of hospital services, reduce patient costs; moreover, medical monitoring instruments enter the family, patients can understand their health without leaving home, and do not need to frequent hospitals. In order to meet these needs, it is necessary to reduce the size of the device, and in some cases, the device is required to be portable, and in addition, a connection or data transmission function is required to transmit the patient's data to the health care center.

How to deal with technology

Medical devices are revolutionizing the home healthcare market, allowing people to diagnose health without having to leave their homes. For home medical devices, the main challenges include: size (easy to carry), power consumption (longer battery life), ease of use (smart devices), network (data analysis by specialists, etc.) and cost (for end users) The price is acceptable). Technological advances have enabled portable self-care systems that help people monitor vital signs such as blood pressure, blood sugar and body temperature. Home medical monitoring and monitoring systems enable people to control their health, but these medical devices must work quickly and efficiently at the most important moments. With the development of portable medical sensors, longer battery life and smaller form factors have become more critical for non-invasive care. Examples of medical devices that require small solution sizes and low power consumption include: blood analysis systems, pulse oximeters, digital x-rays, and digital thermometers.

To help system manufacturers overcome these challenges, semiconductor manufacturers need to help them solve these challenges in the following areas: signal conditioning products such as amplifiers/converters/processors (including integrated solutions); power solutions; wired/wireless communication solutions Solution (Bluetooth, SIM transceiver, etc.). All of this is critical. To provide these solutions, semiconductor manufacturers need to build strong core technologies, but also need to have a good system understanding, because it helps them to design products that meet market needs.

The semiconductor industry is developing rapidly and its process technology is constantly updated. However, new technology investments are becoming more expensive, especially from 90 nm to 65 nm to 45 nm/40 nm. The challenge is to provide new technologies to the medical electronics industry while keeping costs low enough. Faced with the pressure to deliver higher performance at lower cost, medical device manufacturers expect suppliers to fully understand their requirements and provide a platform to support IP reuse. This will speed up the product development process by reducing development and investment costs and shortening the development cycle. Zhang Yuqing, director of marketing and applications for Xilinx Asia Pacific, believes that FPGAs with embedded processors are ideally suited as the core of a highly integrated, integrated system in medical electronic systems. For example, Xilinx's Virtex-5 FXT platform provides two industry-standard PowerPC 440 processor modules, plus high-performance DSP and high-speed SesDes for device development requiring high-resolution image processing, high-performance data analysis, and high-speed data transfer. Ideally used in medical systems, including PCI express interface, SATA interface, Ethernet interface; high speed data buffer and high speed lookup; high performance filters, Beamforming, FFT and other core algorithms; ADC/DAC Interface and various complex controls; image processing and display. Low-cost FPGAs such as the Spartan-3/3A/3E/3AN series, as well as CoolRunner CPLD products, are used in a wide range of medical devices, including portable medical devices such as portable ultrasound devices and a variety of handheld terminals. With Xilinx FPGAs, developers can also integrate their own dedicated IP.

Some medical measurements require analog circuits to run continuously, with thousands or even millions of readings per second. Still others require only one reading per day. For these non-recurring tests, the analog circuit only needs to be powered up once, measured, and then idle for the rest of the day, running in low-power "sleep" mode. The IC must provide a low-power sleep or hiccup mode to achieve low-power operation during sleep.

According to Maxim John Di Cristina, home monitoring devices are typically battery powered, and ICs used in such medical devices require low power, small size, and high integration. The requirements for medical imaging system ICs are that the number of channels for imaging processing is increasing, the performance needs to be increased to occupy a wider frequency band, and on the other hand, the limitation of system power consumption needs to be considered, which brings the design of portable medical equipment. A huge challenge. To this end, Maxim offers small, low cost, high performance (low noise, broadband, etc.) solutions based on user specific requirements, providing a complete analog front end for personal portable monitoring products; highly integrated and superior for ultrasound imaging equipment Performance low-power analog receivers and high-voltage products for transmission channels. In addition, according to user requirements, Maxim will also introduce diagnostic and monitoring ICs to continuously improve the value of the user's final products.

A big problem with medical devices is that they can often take years to design and develop clinical trials and approvals. Medical device manufacturers must ensure that the products they use in their designs receive end-time support from IC manufacturers, as any design changes may require re-certification, delays in product delivery, and significant cost increases. The reliability of the IC is of course extremely important, but it is equally important to be able to supply the product reliably. Regarding product elimination, Alison Steer, product marketing manager for Linear's mixed-signal products, said that the company has a very stable strategy to do everything it can to continue to support the devices already in production. Diagnostic imaging systems such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and digital X-ray imaging continue to make significant advances in imaging, making the accuracy of radiological diagnostics continuously improved. High-speed analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) are located at the heart of these receiver systems, and their performance determines the maximum achievable resolution. The high resolution ADC provides higher contrast and produces detailed images for the user. The Linear Dual High Speed ​​ADC family offers the industry's lowest channel-to-channel crosstalk (-110dB) and is used to increase the redundancy of precision medical devices such as electrosurgical tools.

Another future trend is that portability is a necessary condition for improving efficiency and reducing inventory costs in hospital environments for valuable medical devices. Now, Power over Ethernet (PoE) is bringing many benefits to portable devices because Power over Ethernet delivers data and power simultaneously on a single twisted pair cable (usually CAT5), minimizing clutter. And make the equipment easy to relocate. Because CAT5 is stable and does not require an electrician to install, wiring is not expensive to install, making it easy to move equipment and easy to maintain and overhaul. In addition, PoE makes it easy to power remote locations and manage remote locations, while providing centralized power by economically placing batteries in the same location. Device power can be cycled remotely to load firmware or reset the device.

The most overlooked is that medical equipment has its own unique requirements. In addition to longer life cycles and tighter reliability, many special standards are also met, such as IEC60601-1 and IEC60601-2 (eg galvanic isolation). According to Zhou Wensheng, senior business manager of Asia Pacific Healthcare at Analog Devices, ADI has a long-standing tradition and clear strategy for meeting the long life cycle of products for medical applications, using a very strict quality control process to achieve product reliability. For medical standards such as galvanic isolation as required by the IEC60601-1 standard, ADI has developed the iCoupler family of products to isolate digital signals or power supplies. The latest product is the world's first single-package USB isolator, the ADmM4160, which provides patient-to-device isolation. ADI established a medical team more than a year ago to promote the development of the medical electronics business. On the one hand, we continue to increase investment in general-purpose devices, improve the accuracy of devices, and meet the development needs of medical devices. At the same time, we are investing in cutting-edge technologies such as isolation chips and MEMS to meet the needs of future medical electronic devices. On the other hand, it offers a more integrated solution. For example, the eight-channel ultrasonic receivers AD9276 and AD9277 are introduced for CW (continuous wave) and PW (pulse wave) Doppler ultrasound, integrating the gain, filtering, data conversion and demodulation of CW Doppler signal processing in a single chip. Functional chips to meet increasingly complex diagnostic requirements from everyday antenatal care to advanced cardiac imaging.


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