Getting the Right Interconnects for Patient Monitoring Devices

Getting the Right Interconnects for Patient Monitoring Devices

2 Feb 20236 min readBrandon Tillman
ATL made Sp02 sensor with cable, connector, and flex printed circuit board ATL made Sp02 sensor with cable, connector, and flex printed circuit board

Patient monitoring systems are an important part of patient care at many clinics, long-term medical care, and research facilities. Interconnects are integral to these patient monitoring solutions ensuring dependable, accurate, and consistent data and signal transmission.

The integrated wires, cables, circuit boards, and other electrical components that allow patient monitoring systems (and other medical devices) to operate need to be manufactured to high standards for use in a medical environment. This makes it important to partner with a manufacturer that is ISO 13485 certified, is FDA registered, and has experts in-house that understand the complex regulatory environment.

To help your patient monitoring systems operate at peak efficiency, it is important to have the right interconnects to overcome the challenges your clients face.

What are the challenges that your clients face when managing patient monitoring systems? Why are interconnects important for patient monitoring solutions? Most importantly, how can you minimize costs and risks for your interconnect manufacturing and supply chain?

Challenges of Managing Patient Monitoring Systems

Cable and connector assemblies are often one of the last components to be designed for a new product, medical device, or system. However, the challenges discussed below are examples of how important it is to find a partner that has complete device assembly experience and can make recommendations to ensure project success.

Keeping Up with Interconnect Replacements

Cables and wires that connect monitoring systems to a patient, or other devices/power sources, are exposed to various and repetitive stresses in a hospital setting. Some of these stresses are wear and tear from being pulled on, exposure to caustic chemicals and bodily fluids, cuts to lines and sheathing, and oxidation of exposed components. Sensor pads can have an especially high consumption rate as patients accidentally remove or damage them. To help medical industry clients keep up with the loss rate of these interconnects, it is important to have the ability to rapidly ship new ones as old ones are lost or damaged.

Consistent Connections for Patient Monitoring Systems

Cables and connectors not manufactured to precise parts tolerances increase the risk of things like faulty connections, interference, data interruption, etc. This makes it more difficult for medical facilities to accurately monitor patient vitals and can create false alarms. An example of this would be a heartbeat monitor failing to register the patient’s pulse. Misconnects may also occur when a patient monitoring cable is attached to the wrong port or connector. This is why well-designed interconnects that include design aspects like custom coloring and/or custom keying are important; they help to prevent this type of accident from occurring.

Reducing Risk with Limited Reuse Technology

Though the reasons for reusing single-use devices range from “lowering costs” to “reducing medical waste”, the risk this practice presents to patients cannot be ignored by medical device companies. Many advancements in use-limiting technology have been made, including mechanical use-limiting, single wire/electric limiting, and radio frequency identification limiting (“RFID”). To learn more about this technology, download our “Use-limiting Medical Connectors” eBook.

Why High-Quality Interconnects Matter for Patient Monitoring

Why are interconnects so important for monitoring patient vitals? The first and most obvious reason is that a patient monitoring system cannot function unless the connections between it and the patient are in place.

  1. Cabling needs to be the right length to go from patient monitoring systems to patients without hampering the mobility of patients or getting in the way of hospital staff
  2. They should be light enough to not pull the sensor pads off patients under their weight.
  3. The materials used need to have low capacitance to avoid signal interference between multiple closely placed wires.
  4. Wiring and connectors should have a high degree of conductivity to ensure a stable electrical flow and minimize interconnect delay risks.
  5. Jacketing should be durable and able to withstand various forms of sterilization if they are re-used.

For medical facilities, remote patient monitoring solutions must always work at peak efficiency. If the interconnects used in a monitoring device are not up to quality standards, and are not readily available, it can prevent them from monitoring patients. Therefore, manufacturers need to meet strict quality standards and find ways to minimize time-to-market for both off-the-shelf and custom medical device interconnect solutions.

Minimizing Cost and Risks for Patient Monitoring Interconnects

In addition to ensuring strict quality standards, medical device manufacturers also need to consider the cost of goods for the devices and components they bring to market. If their cost of goods is too high, manufacturers will need to increase the cost of their products, or accept slim margins (or turn products into loss leaders) to capture the attention of cost-conscious customers.

Furthermore, manufacturers need to find ways to minimize their supply chain risks. Disruptions in the supply chain can lead to delays in getting vital medical devices and components to customers—which can lead to lost sales and customers as they seek new sources for the devices they need.

How can you ensure that your medical devices are high-quality while reducing costs, improving time-to-market, and minimizing supply chain risks? One way is to partner with a vertically integrated medical device development and manufacturing specialist with access to nearshore, offshore, and domestic manufacturing capabilities.

ATL Technology has facilities in the USA, China, and Costa Rica that make it easy to access expert manufacturing capabilities while minimizing cost, and time-to-market for your medical devices. Our proven solutions help reduce supply chain risks by distributing manufacturing capacity across the globe.

We take an engineer-to-engineer approach to custom medical devices and interconnect design, development, and manufacturing. We collaborate with you and your team to ensure that every project is a resounding success that meets your (and the patient’s) needs.

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