It may be a cliché, but in the field of medical technology (med tech), change is the only constant. Continuous advancements in healthcare technologies, medical IT, the healthcare Internet of Things and medical devices not only save lives but increase reach and enhance patient care.
Med-tech innovation also keeps healthcare moving forward, evolving alongside humans according to their ever-changing healthcare needs.
Read on for a closer look at 10 of the most innovative and groundbreaking new medical devices currently in development or emerging onto the healthcare arena.
1. Hummingbird Ear Tube Placement Device
A new paediatric medical device that enables safe, in-office ear tube placement for children
The Hummingbird Tympanostomy Tube System (TTS) launched in June 2021. It is a breakthrough, FDA-cleared paediatric technology that reduces surgical trauma while enabling in-office ear tube placement for children.
Every year, millions of children around the world undergo ear tube placement procedures.
Ear tubes are usually required to address chronic ear infections when excess fluid is present in the middle ear. Ear tubes help prevent such fluid build-up but typically require placement under general anaesthesia. This procedure can be distressing for young children as well as their parents.
Minnesota-based med-tech company Preceptis Medical has developed The Hummingbird, a single-pass, in-office ear tube-placement medical device that provides a more affordable and convenient ear tube-placement solution.
“In-office pediatric ear tube procedures using the Hummingbird are becoming increasingly sought after by parents,” said Dr Ted Truitt, MD of St. Cloud Ear, Nose & Throat in Minnesota.
“The Hummingbird’s improved ergonomic design strengthens its already groundbreaking single-pass functionality, a unique characteristic that helps reduce surgical trauma, leading to a more tolerable ear tube procedure for young children.”
Read more about this ground-breaking new medical device here.
2. Hero Arm
The first-ever clinically approved 3D-printed multi-grip bionic arm
At less than half the price of its nearest competitor, the robust, advanced and intuitive new Hero Arm (launched October 2020) is touted as the world’s most affordable multi-grip bionic arm.
Millions of people around the globe are navigating life while living with limb loss. Apart from being a source of significant physical and emotional trauma, the loss of a limb can turn the simplest of tasks into a major challenge. Limb amputation alone requires a lifetime of care and is associated with astronomical medical costs.
Through advances in medical technology, high-tech medical devices such as the Hero Arm can help amputees regain their independence.
Originally launched in 2018, the new Hero Arm (announced October 2020) is an ergonomically designed, lightweight myoelectric prosthesis. Boasting multi-grip functionality and sleek, modern design, the new Hero Arm is both highly affordable and widely available to below-elbow amputees (adults and children aged eight years and above).
With multi-grip features and proportional control, the wearer decides the speed of finger movements. This allows for even delicate movements, such as picking up an egg. Posable thumbs and wrists allow wearers to grab tiny objects, while 180-degree wrist rotations allow wearers to pick up items at odd angles.
The Hero Arm was engineered by UK-based Open Bionics and is now available in the USA, UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
3. Morari Patch: Neurostimulator for Male Sexual Dysfunction
The world's first wearable-tech delayed ejaculation solution premiered in January 2021
It’s been humorously referred to as the “taint band-aid”, but premature ejaculation is a legitimate medical condition. It is estimated to affect around 30% of men around the globe.
Launched early in 2021, and perhaps not strictly (or technically) speaking falling into the category of medical devices, this wearable-tech solution was created to assist with male sexual dysfunction. The company behind the device is Minnesota-based sexual health company Morari Medical.
Touted as “the world’s first wearable-tech delayed ejaculation solution”, this wearable neurostimulator patch is applied to the perineum and then activated using a Bluetooth wireless device.
How does it work? Electrical signals from the Morari Patch slow the nerve transmissions that can cause premature ejaculation. On Morari’s website, it’s explained that the patch “contains elements that, when activated, interfere with the nerve signals from the penis to the brain to delay an ejaculation”.
According to Cleveland Clinic, between 30% and 40% of men experience premature ejaculation (PE) at some stage in their life.
The American Urological Association states that PE is the most prevalent type of sexual dysfunction in males, with approximately one in five men aged between 18 and 59 reporting incidences of PE.
In Western cultures today, a significant number of men desire to prolong latency to orgasm. Rapid ejaculation is one of the most common complaints from men and couples attending sex therapy.
With this in mind, Morari’s drug-, cream- and pain-free premature ejaculation solution, set to hit the market in late 2021, may bring about the male sexual health revolution the world has been waiting for.
Morari Medical describes itself as “a pioneering sexual health company, using cutting-edge medical technology to champion male sexual confidence, control, and satisfaction.”
4. Dxter Tricorder
A tricorder medical device that recognises 34 different health conditions
Tricorders (hand-held portable scanning medical devices used to take basic vital measurements and self-diagnose medical conditions) have long fascinated consumers and medical professionals alike.
Basil Leaf Technologies has created a tricorder called Dxter that, once commercially available, can be used by patients at home, with no medical training required.
The Dxter tricorder has been in development since 2013 and previously won a combined $3 million in prizes at the prestigious Qualcom Tricorder Xprize contest in 2017. Dxter boasts a highly sophisticated diagnostics engine, enabling it to collect patient data from multiple sources. The patient data is then run through algorithms that recognise 34 separate health conditions, including diabetes, pneumonia, tuberculosis and stroke.
“We’re not trying to replace the doctor. We want people to have this information so they can interface with the doctor,” says Basil Harris who, with his team at Basil Leaf Technologies, is currently developing the next-generation Dxter tricorder.
“Dxter collects all patient data non-invasively, getting a reading on glucose, haemoglobin count, and white cell count without drawing any blood,” says Harris.
Read more about this groundbreaking medical device here.
5. Otoset Automatic Ear Cleaning Device
An automated ear-cleaning solution designed to address impacted earwax
Released in November 2020, the Otoset Automated Ear Cleaning System for removing impacted earwax consists of a set of headphones designed with suction and irrigation tips on the inside.
Developed by Tucson, Arizona-based firm SafKan Health, the FDA-cleared Otoset Automated Ear Cleaning System is the first automated ear-cleaning medical device for clinical use.
Impacted earwax is a common occurrence, affecting millions and often causing preventable hearing loss. The Otoset headphone’s irrigation and suction tips spray water onto the ear canal walls, instead of directly toward the eardrum, sucking out residue simultaneously. The residue is collected into a built-in, disposable container which is replaced (along with the spray tips) between uses. After the procedure, the device is wiped down with alcohol wipes to maintain hygienic standards.
The best part? The Otoset Automated Ear Cleaning System can professionally clean a patient’s ears in just 35 seconds.
6. Masspec Pen
Cancer tissue detecting pen
A water droplet is released onto fresh tissues to gently and non-destructively extract molecules. These molecules are then directly analysed by mass spectrometry and statistical classifiers, providing a predictive diagnosis: normal or cancer.
One of the most prevalent challenges facing cancer surgeons is determining where tumours begin, and where they end.
Should the surgeon remove excessive tissue, it can negatively impact normal functions. Removing insufficient tissue could result in cancer reoccurring.
The most often-used method used by medical professionals to determine tumour margins or verify diagnosis, histopathology, is over 100 years old.
Enter the Masspec Pen. This hand-held medical device (invented in 2017 by Livia S. Eberlin Group and currently being evaluated for intraoperative use during oncology surgeries and on freshly excised tissue biopsies) could soon assist surgeons in distinguishing cancerous from healthy tissue with much greater certainty – in a matter of seconds, while surgery is in process.
Using the Masspec Pen, a surgeon places the device against a patient’s tissue, using a foot pedal to begin the automated analysis. The Masspec Pen releases a drop of water onto the patient’s tissue, after which small molecules from the tissue migrate into the water.
The medical device then drives the water sample into the mass spectrometer that reads thousands of molecules as a “molecular fingerprint”.
Once the Masspec Pen has completed its tissue analysis, the words “Cancer” or “Normal” automatically appear on a PC screen, enabling surgeons to know which tissue to remove and which to leave in the patient’s body.
The Masspec Pen has been licensed to Genio Technologies, a subsidiary of MS Pen Technologies. It is currently being used for research only and is not yet FDA approved.
Read more about this revolutionary medical device here.
7. Garnet Pathogen Filter
An extracorporeal therapeutic medical device that filters pathogens directly from the blood
Sepsis is the result of an uncontrolled spread of infectious pathogens and the release of toxins that could lead to systemic inflammation and multiple organ failure, and even death.
Usually, pathogens responsible for sepsis are hard to identify, with patients most often treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics.
But even dead pathogens remaining in the bloodstream can still release toxic fragments known as Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns or PAMPS. These PAMPS can trigger inflammatory cascades that could lead to sepsis and even death.
Enter the Garnet Pathogen Filter, a medical device first conceptualised in 2014 and 2015, that can filter such deadly pathogens directly from a patient’s blood. The Garnet Pathogen Filter was developed by researchers from the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering in Boston.
“Garnet is an extracorporeal blood-cleansing therapeutic medical device capable of removing pathogens and their toxic inflammation-triggering debris directly from a patient’s blood,” says Nisha Varma, BOA Biomedical Chief Operating Officer.
“BOA’s platform technology has demonstrated the ability to successfully capture and remove PAMPs and more than 100 clinically relevant bacteria, fungi, parasites, toxins and viruses, including SARS-CoV-2.”
The Garnet extracorporeal therapeutic is not yet FDA cleared and is currently available solely for compassionate use by order of a physician.
To learn more about this groundbreaking medical device click here.
8. Kuduwave Pro-TMP
A clinically validated portable high-frequency diagnostic audiometer with integrated tympanometer
The Kuduwave Pro-TMP, for the first time ever, has made simultaneous, bilateral tympanometry outside of a sound booth a reality.
The Kuduwave Pro-TMP is a BSI-, CE- and ISO-certified, FDA-registered medical device with dual tympanometry integrated into the audiometric headset.
This highly portable, location-independent pure-tone audiometry solution was developed and launched by South African medical technology company eMoyo in 2020.
It is ideal for ototoxicity monitoring programmes and audiology practices alike, allowing clinicians and healthcare professionals to test patients at home, in hospital, on-site, or in the workplace – without the need for an audiometric sound booth.
Boasting extended high-frequency (16kHz) capability and telemedicine functionality, this diagnostic audiometer combines the sound booth, audiometer, bone conductor and extended high-frequency headset in a single, lightweight device, while also offering simultaneous, bilateral tympanometry.
The Kuduwave Pro-TMP boothless audiometer was designed with probe speakers and microphones in both ear cups, enabling ipsilateral and contralateral acoustic reflex testing for the first time ever. This functionality allows for testing to be carried out without swapping the probe or activator-stimuli tips.
This unique functionality enables users to save valuable clinical time while still yielding all pertinent clinical information. Additionally, the Kuduwave Pro-TMP audiometer offers users the ability to store the reflex measurement history.
To read more about the revolutionary Kuduwave Pro-TMP portable audiometer with integrated tympanometry, click here.
Learn more about eMoyo’s Kuduwave portable audiometer range.
9. Eclipse System
A non-surgical solution for faecal incontinence
Faecal incontinence is a fairly common medical condition, but it can be a highly embarrassing one, making it a challenge for sufferers to confide even in their physician about their symptoms.
Faecal incontinence can affect anyone but is particularly prevalent in a key group of patients – menopausal women in whom the condition is frequently associated with previous pelvic trauma, such as the kind which can occur during childbirth.
Options for the treatment of faecal incontinence are rather limited, including changes in lifestyle, or radical treatment like costly surgical implants. The niche gap for a low-cost, low-risk solution for faecal incontinence that is also highly effective has now been filled by Santa Clara, California-based med-tech company Pelvalon.
Pelvalon’s Eclipse System (FDA-approved in 2016) was designed to be a minimally invasive solution to faecal incontinence in female patients.
This medical device is simply an inflatable vaginal insert, designed to control the nearby rectum.
Once inserted, the gentle pressure from the inflated Eclipse System obstructs the passage of stool. When a user requires to empty their bowel, the inserted medical device is deflated to make allowance for this purpose.
10. Airpop Active+ Halo Smart Mask
App-connected smart mask with embedded Bluetooth sensor
At first glance, the Airpop Active+ Halo Smart Mask (launched January 2021), a dome-shaped face mask with an air gap above the wearer’s nose and mouth, bears a strong resemblance to an N95 mask.
What differentiates the Airpop Active+ face mask to make it “smart”? Its Halo sensor, embedded in the mask’s cloth layer.
The Airpop Active+ face mask’s Bluetooth Low Energy sensor can track users’ breathing rate, air volume, and wear time. When connected to the Halo smartphone app, a user’s location can be used to determine AQI (air quality index) as well as calculate the amount of particulate matter blocked.
Once connected, the mask’s Halo sensor can even automatically detect when a user starts breathing, to sync breathing data with the app.
The Airpop Active+ Halo Smart Mask was developed by Airpop, the world’s first “air wearables” company and can be ordered online.
Med-tech Innovation: The Potential to Transform Healthcare
Advances in portable med-tech keep presenting the medical world with practical, affordable healthcare solutions with the potential to enhance and even transform the health and lives of millions of people across the globe.
Learn more about how advancements in portable med tech are revolutionising healthcare in 2021 – and how it can help to transform the way you run your medical practice.