A promising area of medical technology is emerging in which medical device design will be able to make a major contribution. We’re seeing a number of companies that are working on technologies that enable nearly instant diagnostic test results. Epocal is one, Abbott is another. Most of the focus seems to be on bedside administration, where treatment regimens can be immediately adjusted, rather than having to wait for lab results to come back. By virtually eliminating the lag between test administration and result, these technologies will factor greatly in speeding recovery, reducing time of hospital stays, and thereby significantly reducing cost.

Because instant diagnostics will take place at the point of care, smart human factors design for ease-of-use will be critical. The expertise offered by practitioners of medical device design, especially medical industrial design, will be highly valuable in this context.

We will continue to keep an eye out for advances in instant diagnostics. We predict there will be significant opportunities in this area.