Medical devices do more than keep people alive; they allow many patients to live normally, with minimal impact from their condition. Frequent check-ups or long stays in hospitals or clinics are not only costly for the healthcare industry, but it disrupts peoples’ lives. Particularly in times of a global pandemic, in-person contact with patients is not always feasible, especially with patients that may be immune-compromised.

Remote monitoring for medical devices enables patients and healthcare workers to monitor their health efficiently without the need for contact. The device sends data to a computer or mobile device, and healthy reading parameters can be set for automated alerts if the patient becomes ill. Medical wire plays an important role in these devices for sensing and transmitting this electronic data.

As a trusted supplier of steel and metal alloys, Sandvik’s Exera brand of ultra-fine medical wire is used in medical devices to transmit, sense or stimulate within the human body. With more than 200 alloys and various customisations such as coiling and coatings, medical device manufacturers have worked with Sandvik to create devices that safely monitor patient’s health.

According to Gene Kleinschmit, senior product manager for Sandvik Materials Technology’s medical business unit: “The remotely monitored device that we help to manufacture in the largest volume is the continuous glucose monitors for people with diabetes. The sensor will communicate with the person’s iPhone or another handheld device to monitor their glucose levels throughout the day. It can also be set up so that others can monitor that same person’s glucose, so if a parent wants to monitor their child while they’re in school, they can get readings from the device throughout the day. There are also devices for monitoring people with heart issues, where the device is put in a vein near the heart and monitors heart rate.”

“Remote monitoring by a family member meant that they were able to call 911 and save the patient’s life.”

For patients with diabetes, this means that they will not need to carry out finger prick tests during the day to monitor glucose levels. Patients who have recently come out of surgery or are otherwise immune-compromised can minimise potential exposure to contagion, while still providing essential follow-up details to hospitals. Gary Davies, manager at Sandvik Materials Technology’s business unit for medical wire manufacturing, stresses that the human factor should not be overlooked, and it is important for patients to have freedom and comfort in their own home.

“Doctors or physicians can monitor a patient when they leave the hospital to make sure they haven’t gotten an infection or they haven’t gotten fluid build-up around their heart following surgery,” Davies explains. “They can monitor a lot of the patients at home, where they’d rather be and they’re more comfortable.”

For the elderly or people with limited mobility, remote monitoring reduces the need for journeys that may be difficult and stressful. This continual monitoring throughout the day also means that emergency alerts can be automated. For example, a patient with diabetes will be immediately alerted if their glucose level reaches an unhealthy level, and emergency services will be notified if this patient is at risk.

“Our customers share experiences of people using a glucose monitoring device who went into a diabetic coma when nobody else was around. Remote monitoring by a family member meant that they were able to call 911 and save the patient’s life.” Kleinschmit adds.

In this technological age, data collected from remotely monitored devices can be integrated with analysis software that utilises machine learning and AI. This means that in the future, we will be better at anticipating and understanding potential emergencies, as well as making medical studies much more efficient when it comes to data collection.

For more information about EXERA ® fine medical wire-components, including a full list of materials or to contact Sandvik about developing a medical field device, visit their website.