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MDEA Finalists Exhibit Advanced Diagnostics, Improved Surgical Devices

Originally Published April 2000

INDUSTRY NEWS


MDEA Finalists Exhibit Advanced Diagnostics, Improved Surgical Devices

After evaluating more than 100 products submitted to the 2000 Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA) competition, a jury of medical device industry experts has selected 29 finalists representing the competition's 10 categories. Now in its third year, the design competition rewards innovation and engineering excellence in medical product design and manufacturing. The awards program is organized by Canon Communications and sponsored by Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry magazine.

Corporate sponsorship for the 2000 MDEA competition is being provided by DuPont Tyvek (Wilmington, DE), a supplier of sterile packaging materials for medical products; Eastman Chemical Products (Kingsport, TN), a supplier of medical-grade resins, plasticizers, and packaging materials; and Medsource Technologies (Minneapolis), a firm that specializes in full-service outsourcing and complete project management for medical device manufacturing.

The nine-member jury—with expertise in biomedical engineering, human factors engineering, industrial design, medicine, nursing, packaging, and diagnostics—convened during the Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) West 2000 Conference and Exposition this past January in Anaheim, CA. The jurors evaluated the submissions on the basis of design and engineering innovation, cost-effectiveness, benefits to users and patients, appropriate aesthetics, and business impact.

Increased demand for intuitive user interfaces

Commenting on the trends reflected in this year's product submissions, jury chair Michael E. Wiklund said, "In addition to evaluating many devices intended for use in operating rooms or sophisticated laboratories, the panel reviewed a large number of products designed for use in doctors' offices, ambulances, or even in homes. For such products, users can be expected to have relatively less medical knowledge and experience with special technology." Wiklund, a human factors engineering consultant with the American Institutes for Research (Concord, MA), observed that the trend toward alternate-site use "places an increased demand on designers to produce user interfaces that are intuitive and error resistant."

Weighing less than 20 lb, a portable ultrasound system for cardiac imaging was designed by EDGE Product Development and Acuson. It is one of three finalists in the Radiological and Electromechanical Devices category.

Overall, devices designed with significant consideration of the user's needs received high marks from the jurors. "What impressed me about some of the products was the degree of detail to which the designers and engineers studied various aspects of a problem and how best to meet the needs of the end-user," said juror Herbert Voigt, president of the Biomedical Engineering Society and associate professor at Boston University's department of biomedical engineering.

After reviewing entries in the category of rehabilitation and assistive-technology devices, juror Corinna Lathan, PhD, president and CEO of AnthroTronix Inc. (Wheaton, MD) and associate professor of biomedical engineering at the Catholic University of America (Washington, DC), said, "Good design of medical devices needs to take into account many factors about the consumer. What is the level of experience of the person using it? Where will he or she be using it? There was clear attention to these systems-level issues in the finalist products."

Supporting the move of medical professionals toward procedures that minimize patient trauma and reduce hospital stays, many of the finalist products were created to improve minimally invasive surgical procedures. "Devices such as the Sew-Right, Ti-Knot, and AutoSonix system have taken engineering advances into the operating room and permitted a broader range of endoscopic applications," said Eliot S. Lazar, MD, president of elCON Medical (Buffalo, NY). "With these forward-thinking products, surgery is more efficient, less traumatic, and permits quicker and easier patient recovery."

Devices in many of the categories were considered innovative for their small size and portability. "At least five of the finalists wouldn't have been possible five years ago," said juror Douglas Anderson, CEO of Optos plc and chairman of the design firm of Crombie Anderson Associates Ltd. (both in Dunfermline, Scotland). He credited recent advances in component miniaturization for making possible the smaller, less-expensive devices that have recently reached the market.

Miniaturization is key feature of diagnostic devices

Component miniaturization and portability were certainly key features of many of the diagnostic devices submitted to the competition. Examples of this trend included the Careside Analyzer blood-testing system, selected as a finalist for its small footprint, ability to deliver accurate results in minutes, and data storage and transmission capabilities. "We are seeing more point-of-care diagnostic devices that eliminate the need to send patients or materials to the lab and reduce the cost and time required for patient care," added juror Joseph Dyro, PhD, president of Biomedical Resource Group (Setauket, NY), professor of biomedical engineering at Touro College (Dix Hills, NY), and associate professor of anesthesiology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

A noninvasive detection system for carpal tunnel syndrome developed by NeuroMetrix and Product Genesis is one of three finalists in the General Hospital Devices and Therapeutic Products category.

Jurors observed that many of the device companies participating in the competition gave significant consideration to environmental issues. Juror Donald Barcan, president of Donbar Industries (Long Valley, NJ), noted that both small and large companies have made source reduction a priority. Craig Jackson, PhD, a medical diagnostics research and development consultant, added that "The attention some companies paid to using environmentally friendly packaging is very pleasing to see. Hopefully, packaging with minimally adverse effects on the environment will one day be so common that it no longer receives comment."

The designers and engineers responsible for this year's finalist products are clearly being rewarded for embracing the "form follows function" philosophy and creating devices with appealing—yet appropriate—aesthetics. As Wiklund observed, "A common denominator among many of the products selected as finalists is their elegant integration of superb functionality and the kind of creature comforts normally associated with consumer products. Many of the entries feature a sculptured form that is both ergonomically correct and attractive to the eye."

The 2000 Medical Design Excellence Awards winners will be announced and displayed at the MD&M East Exposition, June 6­8, 2000, in New York City. For more information about the competition, call Canon Communications at 310/996-9434 or visit the program's Web site at http:// www.MDEAwards.com. —Amy Allen

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