Few industries have the potential to impact the health of our lives now and into the future as much the increasing use of information and communications technologies (ICT) in the medical devices sector.
Mobile devices like implants are already wirelessly transmitting vital health information to smartphones or doctors and an explosion in the use of digital technologies for telehealth are providing immediate connections between medical specialists and patients regardless of location. Surgeries are even now done by doctors manipulating a robotic arm in one location while the patient is in another hospital’s operating room!
Canada has one of the largest medical devices industries in the world, chalking up $7 billion in annual revenues, according to Industry Canada. The industry develops and produces devices with applications and services that draw on the latest discoveries in many other sectors like microelectronics, robotics, telecommunications, mobile apps and data informatics.
Mobile health apps are one of the hottest growth areas right now with developers coming up with all kinds of new ways to adapt smartphones and tablets for medical uses. An app can help monitor glucose levels for diabetes. Another tracks medications and texts an alert when it’s time to refill prescriptions.
The increasing use of wireless implanted sensors will ultimately result in health monitoring centres with automated tracking of potentially fatal conditions like heart disease. Implant monitors will sound an alarm to send an ambulance to your house before you even know you’re close to having another heart attack or stroke!
The digitization of health records from paper files is now taking place around the world. Having all records online will improve patient safety by making medical histories available on healthcare professionals’ mobile devices wherever they may be. If you’re unconscious as a result of an accident while travelling in another city or country, emergency responders will be able to access your medical history immediately to make sure treatment doesn’t complicate existing conditions.
If you want to be part of sector that is just beginning to have a life and death impact on people’s lives, this one won’t disappoint. It’s also growing at an annual rate of 44 percent, according to GlobalData research that estimates the mobile health technology market alone will balloon globally from $500 million in 2010 to $8 billion by 2018.
Cool Careers in Medical Devices
Because medical devices range from mobile apps to microelectronics, you can prepare for a career in this exciting sector through a number of different disciplines.
Check universities you might be interested in to see if any of their programs have a specialty related to medical devices. For example, McMaster University’s School of Biomedical Engineering has a medical robotics group that is recognized around the world for its experience in remote telepresence surgery. Ryerson University offers a certificate in health informatics that includes computer-based tutoring systems for training health professionals and patient monitoring systems.
Below are CareerMash profile examples that can lead to careers in the medical devices industry. Click on the title to see the full career profile with educational paths.
- Biomedical Engineering Technologist - Biomedical engineering technologists are the doctors of health tech. Information networks increasingly interconnect all types of medical equipment to instantly update digital patient records. Technologists make sure no link in the data chain will disrupt treatment or care.
- Health Informatics Analyst/Consultant - The health informatics field is just beginning to revolutionize healthcare through telehealth and other initiatives such as digitizing every Canadian’s health records. So this is a great time to get into this field as it gets ready to take off. Analysts and consultants take pride that their work saves lives in the information-rich health systems of the 21st century.
- Mobile Apps Designer - Mobile apps designers are creative innovators, able to imagine what users need before they know they need it. Good designers have a sharp visual eye. They can sketch an image from an idea, using digital imaging tools to turn it into a lifelike 3D animation.
- Mobile Apps Developer - Mobile apps developers love to solve problems. They work behind the scenes of every app everywhere, in every industry, re-inventing the way smartphones and tablets are used.
- Robotics Engineer - Thanks to robotic tools and ultra-high speed communications, a Canadian company, Haivision, is helping show how to do ultra-sensitive surgeries from thousands of miles away.
- Electronics Engineer - The scope of electronics is vast. For example, electronic engineers can be involved in designing new products as well as testing and ensuring electronics are functioning properly. They can also be responsible for developing software for quality control.