Biomed test equipment becomes portable, less pricey

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Biomed test equipment becomes portable, less pricey

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | May 31, 2013
International Day of Radiology 2012
From the May 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine


The low price is important for this function, as there have to be enough PocketSIMs to go around. A typical biomed shop might have 15 techs but only three patient monitor simulators, the engineers say. They say they priced theirs low enough that a CE manager could buy one device for every one of their biomeds. The PocketSIM retails for $300 dollars, while typical ECG simulators run from $800 to almost $2,500, if they also offer non-invasive blood pressure functions, Hafer says.

How did they make it cheaper? “A lot of Google searching,” Cadick jokes. The engineers are choosing the same path, oddly enough, that video game consolemakers have: using off-the-shelf parts. Sony and Microsoft are both expected to release next-generation video game consoles this year at lower prices than in the past, largely because they’re mostly avoiding custom-built innards. “To have your own custom tooling done, your cost of development goes up $10,000 or $15,000,” Cadick says.

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Simplicity and ease
Cheap is good, but there’s no substitute for intuitive, simple interfaces. The PocketSIM was originally designed with five separate buttons, but after getting feedback from TriMedx biomeds, the two engineers said they simplified it, so it can now be operated with the push of a single button. X2, the RaySafe-designed X-ray QA tool that was launched this year, was also created for ease of use, the company says.

“Honestly, a biomed who has never done a radiology reading before could walk into the room and get a reading,” RaySafe’s Fitzgerald says. “All they need to know is how to push a button.”

The focus on simplicity informs most of the product’s design, according to the company. The X2, which has a 10-hour battery life and can store about 10,000 exposures, doesn’t need to be oriented in an X-ray beam to take a reading. Also, waveforms can be seen on the device’s built-in display, so there’s no need to work off a laptop. For now, X2 only works with rad/fluoro, but future editions should be able to do mammography and CT, Fitzgerald says.

With a push for efficiency also comes a need to reduce downtime — something even testing equipment is subject to. Every year, QA devices have to be sent back to RaySafe for calibration. For the X2’s predecessor, the whole device had to go, which meant biomeds couldn’t use it for the seven to 10 business days it took to arrive, be recalibrated, and sent back. “It’s kind of like you giving up your laptop for seven to 10 days,” Fitzgerald says. “What am I going to do with myself?”

For the X2, RaySafe made a change — now, only the detachable sensor needs to be shipped back for re-calibration, meaning the company can keep several sensors on hand to eliminate downtime. The sensors are also much cheaper than full backup kits, Fitzgerald says, as the X2 lists for about $12,700.

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