Usually, innovation-related fields like MedTech are seen as creative by nature. Although there is some truth to this, we also need to consider that, in order to come up with new and disruptive ideas, there is much more than just pure inspiration. Innovation also requires a methodic and disciplined approach. Something like design and its sub-disciplines, many of which resemble the scientific method when applied to problem-solving. But even methodic approaches fail to find inspiration.
Inspiration won’t just knock on our doors to help us build great health devices. It is necessary to go out and look for it. Luckily, there are many sources of inspiration that we can consult. There is one in particular that we’d like to discuss in this post: Speculative Design.
If you are thinking about leveling up your Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) idea, you’ve come to the right place. In this post I discuss some futurist ideas of SaMD built through Speculative Design. These ideas will surely give you the inspiration you need to build your own software-based medical device.
In brief, Speculative Design is the creation of possible futures. It is a branch of design that seeks to create fictional artifacts that can help us imagine how the future could be. Throughout this process, designers, together with interdisciplinary teams, can build all types of future scenarios. These are often used to rethink the role of technology, or even to imagine things that have never been done before.
Speculative Design does not have to be ‘correct’ or fall within what’s possible. The point is to go beyond the frontiers of our current limitations; things like technology, politics, imagination. By doing so, it is possible to imagine what the future can be.
The Importance of SaMD
Medical software has been gaining popularity due to its potential to help health personnel and patients address a wide range of issues. The fact that software can be referred to as a medical device has spurred an entire MedTech innovation ecosystem.
As novel technologies emerge, we can expect new ways of using software for medical purposes. However, for this to occur, companies need to understand the responsibility involved. Using algorithm-driven devices and solutions to help solve or enhance human health sounds nice, but it needs to be done in a safe way. Guaranteeing patients’ safety and health, after all, should be a top priority.
Using software as a medical device is a complex task. It requires understanding the regulatory part of the business, the innovative side of technology, and the human side to medicine. Some good old speculation can help us think about these issues.
3 SaMD Speculative Examples
We thought it would be interesting to share some ideas on speculative SaMD. This, however, involves taking the concept of SaMD to its limits, presenting us with new and challenging situations that can make us question when exactly software is a medical device, and more importantly, where it is heading based on our current technology.
Who knows, you might find some interesting ideas. Don’t worry if you are just looking to learn about Speculative Design, this might also interest you.
Scenario #1: Machine Learning-Driven Hospitals
It is the year 2040. Artificial Intelligence has reached its peak. Humanity was finally able to create computers that could emulate humans in many aspects. Yet, this technology still falls short of behaving entirely like humans. Its power, however, is enough to manage complex systems and learn from real-time data.
Hospitals have successfully implemented Machine Learning to control their entire operation. Medical personnel still exists, but their function is now different. They focus on critical tasks that cannot be performed even by the most advanced robots. Through powerful apps, medical personnel and robots coordinate taking care of patients. The system helps determine what patients need and keeps the place up and running, even managing supplies and doing other administrative tasks.
Robots help patients complete tasks that do not require someone else. This has allowed health to improve drastically. Patients are happy, mistakes have been reduced, and medical personnel has more time to focus on critical tasks.
Scenario #2: Wearables Enhance Human Health
After the pandemic, the wearable-tech industry saw a surge. MedTech companies identified a great opportunity to invest in monitoring people’s health through ordinary things like shoes, shirts, and even glasses. Everything connects through a mobile app that helps users set configurations and share information with their doctors.
People can track their biometrics. This is very useful to identify medical conditions, and even more important, to identify future possible epidemics. Society has come to be dependent on these technologies to treat many ailments.
Scenario #3: Blockchain-based Health Systems
Year unknown. The health system as humanity knew it throughout the XX and XXI century no longer exists. Traditional health institutions were replaced by a decentralized health system that is entirely based on Blockchain. Smart contracts make sure that every citizen has access to a decent medical service.
Blockchain technology has evolved so much from its first years that it can easily operate on mobile devices. Citizens must have them at all times, as this is like carrying your ID. Different apps compete to offer the best blockchain-based health service.
Thinking About the Future
Can a computer-operated hospital be considered a medical device? What will happen to patient medical data in the future? Is a specific innovation a threat to my current business model? These are probably some of the questions you have after reading these speculative SaMD futures.
Much of what these scenarios describe will probably never occur, but that is beyond the point. Through them, it is possible to imagine how the future of MedTech will be like, and more importantly, we can think of innovative SaMD solutions.
The future is uncertain, but notice that, throughout the three speculative futures, there is one thing in common: amazing apps that make everything possible. That is no coincidence. Whatever the future holds, apps are bound to lead the healthcare industry. Even with powerful machines that make important decisions for us, apps will play an important role in how users interact with health systems. That’s one idea we can work with from this speculative exercise.
At Koombea we understand the MedTech industry and its intricacies, like HIPAA compliance matters, and where technology is heading. Our more than 1000 software projects have allowed us to become experts in Medical app development, and most importantly, it has taught us how to work hand by hand with our clients.
That’s why we are a preferred software development partner by many of the industry’s leading apps. Contact us for more information and schedule a free consultation with one of our experts. We’d be glad to help you speculate about the future of healthcare.