Advancements in Medical technology

medical-doctorIf there’s one aspect that tends to impact more on medical advancement more than almost anything else, it’s how doctors and clinicians gather data about their patients. To be able to construct an effective care plan for those suffering from long-term illnesses in particular, you have to be able to ‘track’ the disease, its symptoms and how the body is responding to treatment. This means gathering data – lots and lots of data.

However, the primary drawback in this process isn’t medical, it’s logistical. Previously, monitoring a patient’s status would involve hooking them up to expensive and bulky machinery, often confining someone who should be able to carry out at least a semblance of a normal life to the constraints of a hospital room. Not only does this make it difficult for the patient, but it also ties up a lot of very costly machinery for prolonged periods of time, extending waiting lists for others, uses up resources and generally proves to be an inefficient way of monitoring a patient’s situation.

Seeing opportunities

But medical science is nothing if not adaptable, and one thing it’s very good at is seeing the opportunities in other forms of technology that may have been developed for an entirely different purpose. And one of the biggest potential breakthroughs in medical technology has come from a recent collaboration between ISORG and Plastic Logic, with the development of flexible electronic sensors.

By marrying up organic printed photodetectors (OPD), pioneered by ISORG, onto a plastic organic thin-film transistor (OTFT) backplane, developed by Plastic Logic, the team have created a flexible sensor with a 4×4 cm active area, 375um pitch (175um pixel size with 200um spacing) and 94 x 95 = 8 930 pixel resolution.

But the key aspect here is ‘flexible’. This OTFT can be incorporated into monitors that can be worn on the skin, providing a constant stream of data to a computer and allowing a primary care team to monitor the fluctuations in the health of their patient.

Significant breakthrough

The flexible, transmissive backplane represents a significant breakthrough in the manufacture of new large area image sensors. Originally designed for plastic displays, the sensors are now forging themselves a nice little niche in medical applications, particularly in long-term primary care situations.

But it doesn’t end there. The possibilities and potential applications of this technology could transform the medical environment into a much more high-tech and efficient scenario. Miniature flexible display screens in medicine could potentially be incorporated into patient notes, making it easier for anyone involved in the patient’s care to update the information instantly and from any location. The use of this type of display would also remove the problem of interpreting handwritten notes, which can have major consequences.

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It’s an exciting area of development, and one that is only just starting to see its full potential. Indro Mukerjee, CEO Plastic Logic has commented: “I am delighted that Plastic Logic can now demonstrate the far-reaching potential of the underlying technology. Our ability to create flexible, transmissive backplanes has led us not only to co-develop a flexible image sensor, but is also key to flexible OLED displays as well as unbreakable LCDs.”

Guest article written by: Verena blogs about gadgets and technology, covering everything from the latest mobile advancements to display technology. When she’s not online Verena enjoys swimming, cycling and travelling the world.

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