Outstanding medical devices can represent tremendous leaps forward or can advance a technology in small but significant ways. They can foster innovations in high-profile fields or in obscure ones. They can be sold around the world in millions of units or serve a low-volume but crucial niche.
That kind of diversity is represented among the winners of the 2006 Medical Design Excellence Awards. Yet despite obvious differences, the winners had some common threads among their accomplishments.
“Many of the award-winning devices had both new clinical or technical innovation coupled with obvious considerations of the users. Within each category there were a number of next-generation devices that demonstrated progress of improved healthcare delivery, as well as a few breakthrough or novel technologies,” says juror Mary Beth Privitera. She is assistant professor of biomedical engineering for the University of Cincinnati's Medical Device Innovation & Entrepreneurship Program. “Also, there is a trend in developing image-guided systems to eliminate errors in surgical techniques for therapies in the OR as well as in ancillary facilities.”
Products are judged on five criteria: design and engineering innovations, functional and user-related innovations, patient benefits, business benefits, and improvement to overall healthcare. Twenty-six entries were deemed worthy of awards. The following pages show you why.
Some could be revolutionary for their sectors. Ranging from a new approach to CT scanning to a test that can detect quickly a serious infection outbreak, these products represent paradigm shifts that could influence future designs.
Others bring improvements on a smaller scale. Whether designing trocars or nebulizers, the companies that make these products found ways to make established technologies better, less expensive, easier to use, and safer.
And some bring needed advances to underserved markets. From a cot that makes it easier for emergency medical technicians to lift patients to a battery technology that could promote hearing-aid use in Third World nations, these products bring solutions to places that don't get enough attention.
“I think the need for a safer product, the human factors associated with the product, and the unique characteristics of the product for the patient population” were among the factors that distinguished winning products, says juror Denise Korniewicz. She is a professor and senior associate dean for research at the University of Miami (FL) School of Nursing.
A list of the products, the stories behind them, and profiles of the jurors follow. MD&DI's coverage is the best place to learn about them until June 7, 2006, at the Medical Design & Manufacturing East show in New York City. That day, winners will be honored at a ceremony, and whether they won gold or silver awards will be revealed.