What Does Miniaturization Actually Mean for Medical Devices?

The medical industry is finding that size really does matter, but it’s not the old “bigger is better” mindset.  The trend is miniaturization…of practically everything.

What is Miniaturization?

Miniaturization is the practice of making things smaller and it’s sweeping the nation from the downsizing of computers and mobile phones to tiny swallowable cameras used to make a medical procedure less invasive.

Medical miniaturization is the process of shrinking the size of a medical device or tool.  Med-tech innovators began the state-of-the-art the shifting downtrend over 50 years ago but only in recent years have the results been made available.  Although great strides have been made, there’s much room for improvements which is exactly what’s currently taking place – perfecting performance.  (Big Prospects for Medical Device Miniaturization | designnews.com)

Mini Matters

There are big benefits in the miniaturization of medical devices including:

Function:  Nothing is more important in the medical field than functionality because if a device doesn’t work, lives are lost.  Smaller devices fulfil the purposes larger ones do but even better.  They enable surgeons to reach places and to accomplish things they couldn’t with larger, bulky devices.  They allow for less invasive procedures which means a shorter hospital stay (or no stay at all) and a speedier recovery time.

Cost:  Because surgeries and procedures are done with miniature devices are less invasive and therefore require less time in the hospital and less recovery time, the overall cost is less for the medical entities as well as for the patients.  In addition, the expense of the devices is lower because less material is needed to make them.  Shipping charges cost less too.

Convenience:  Surgeons and surgical personnel are busy tending to important matters – such as saving lives.  Medical miniaturization devices are easier to work with, making everything much more convenient for all, leaving less chance of mistakes being made and an overall calmer atmosphere.

Size:  According to experts in development and design, smaller devices are being made to be more powerful because all forces are multiplied, but use less power to operate. (https://www.medicaldesignbriefs.com/component/content/article/mdb/features/articles/17280)

Smaller sized medical devices make them easier to transport and store. For instance, it takes only a portion of a docking cart to hold miniaturized medical items whereas regular tools, equipment, and devices take up the entire dock cart.

Space:  Operating rooms have always been cramped for space.  Smaller-scaled medical equipment, devices, and tools reduce clutter, thus giving more room for surgeons and staff to perform their jobs better.

Portability:  One of the best advantages of miniaturization in medical devices is the ease in which they can be transported.  Even patients reap the rewards such as having access to cardiac rhythm devices, tiny bio-sensing implants, and so much more.  (https://www.bench.com/setting-the-benchmark/miniaturization-is-a-big-deal-in-medical-devices).  Swallowable cameras are so small and portable, studies are being conducted that may open the door for patients to undergo screening in their own homes by simply swallowing the tiny endoscopic-type camera then connecting to a doctor who will read the results (Swallowable Capsule-Camera Instead of Endoscopy for Use at Home (medscape.com)). 

Big Challenges

The design of miniaturization is challenging designers to develop and design products that are smarter, faster, and smaller as the demand for them is constantly increasing.   New materials to make the tiny devices are also being sought on a constant basis.  Some parts are so tiny, they can’t be seen with the naked eye, adding even more challenge to the call. (Big Prospects for Medical Device Miniaturization (designnews.com)

The Future of Medical Miniaturization

Medical miniaturization is revolutionizing the industry, evident by such inventions as the pint-sized heart monitor that helps physicians diagnose irregular heartbeats quickly and accurately and “pill cameras” that can be swallowed so physicians can take a look around the gut to detect defects, disease, and even cancer.

Some of the most notable engineers of the miraculous mini medical devices insist that even though devices are small now, they can be made even more so – possibly as much as ten times smaller.  (The future of healthcare is mini: The miniaturization of healthcare (hospitalnews.com)).

As medical miniaturization becomes the norm, the need for other products to manufacture and accommodate them is being created, a win-win for the economy.  Dock carts to efficiently and properly house the tiny devices are requiredParts for the miniature devices are needed and cases and containers for them to go into are in demand as well.

When it comes to “going small”, it seems there is no end in sight.  It is safe to say that the trend towards medical miniaturization is changing not only the medical community and patient’s lives but the entire world.

Interesting Related Article: “How the Repeal of the Medical Device Tax Benefits Healthcare Companies