Sep 9, 2020

Wearable tech inspired by animals could prevent injuries

Wearable technology
injury prevention
rehabilitation
Leila Hawkins
2 min
Wearable tech inspired by animals could prevent injuries
Casts inspired by animal scales could be beneficial to athletes...

When we think of wearable technology, what usually springs to mind are smart devices that can be worn on the body, like smartwatches tracking how many steps we take, and glasses that provide us with immersive experiences. 

However the latest in wearable tech could be the creation of a London university graduate, who's taken inspiration from animal skins to design a type of cast that can protect athletes from injury. 

Natalie Kerres is a graduate from the Global Innovation Design master’s programme, offered jointly by Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art. She researched animals that protect themselves against threats with their skins, shells or scales, to create a product for humans that can protect them in the same way, without inhibiting flexibility. 

The result is SCALED, so-called because it's made from interlocking protective scales, referencing animals like lizards and fish, that Kerres took inspiration from. It functions like a cast but doesn't limit movement, as the interlocking scales are bespoke to provide precise motion limitation for the wearer. It is also custom made to fit the wearer's body shape and requirements. 

The scales can prevent injuries from happening in the first place, and could also be used for improving rehabilitation and enhancing sports performance.

The project recently received funding from the MedTech SuperConnector programme (MTSC), for Natalie to further develop Scaled, with the aim of making it commercially available. The MTSC facilitates the early stage development of innovative medical technologies, from devices, diagnostics, and digital healthcare solutions. MTSC provides participants with funding, training, membership and access to industry partners to help fast-track their research discoveries to market.  

The six-month programme features masterclasses in business, mentorship, networking, project development and funding, ending with an investment pitch. Natalie will be working at the Additive Manufacturing Lab at the Dyson School of Design Engineering, part of Imperial College London. 

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Jul 24, 2021

A guide to labelling compliance for medical devices

medicaldevices
Technology
healthcare
Compliance
Susan Gosnell
4 min
A guide to labelling compliance for medical devices
Susan Gosnell, Product Manager at Loftware, explains labelling compliance for small medical device manufacturers

Small medical device manufacturers often find themselves scrambling to achieve the necessary compliance and validation, risking costly mistakes.

Validating systems and processes including labelling, to ensure they are compliant with stringent regulatory standards is tough and can be expensive. Indeed, compliance with the EU’s Medical Device Regulation (MDR) will cost more than 5% of annual sales, according to 48% of 101 companies polled by the German company Climedo Health, in July and August 2020 about their MDR-readiness.

But if companies bungle the software validation process or put incorrect and uncompliant data on the labels themselves, the penalties are likely to be more severe than just making corrections. Health and safety may be put at risk and fines imposed for failing to comply. When it comes to compliance, they may become overwhelmed with regulations in other geographic regions that focus on device traceability, each with a unique device identifier (UDI-like) component to it. 

On the validation front, companies may not be familiar with the software validation process and the multiple tests and documentation necessary for validation are demanding if companies only have a small IT team that is very busy.

Putting a plan in place

MDR-compliant labelling, however, brings with it certain requirements which differ from what is demanded under the FDA’s Unique Device Identification (UDI) system rules. Under MDR, for example, manufacturers must ensure the label specifically states the device is a medical one using an MD symbol in a box. This is only one of many stipulations that usually require redesigned labels.

Small medical device manufacturers who rely on time-consuming and error-prone manual or legacy labelling processes to facilitate these label updates run the risk of mislabelling which can lead to non-compliance.  They may have limited staff and no structured processes around roles and responsibilities when it comes to label design, changes and approval. As project leads work toward a compliant labelling process, it is therefore important to establish defined roles and access for each stage of the process.

When dealing with a compliance initiative, up to date, correct and compliant labelling is imperative. This involves having all the relevant label design elements in place to comply with the EU MDR or FDA regulations. Many times, label templates are hard coded, meaning IT must be involved in making changes. And with IT staff often being tasked with multiple mission-critical projects in the organisation, labelling projects can be delayed. For many small medical device manufacturers who have limited resources, finding a solution can be a challenge.

Why labelling in the cloud offers a roadmap forward

Validation-ready cloud labelling solutions have now emerged to ease compliance with regulations and time-consuming validation requirements. These solutions, built with the needs of regulated companies in mind, digitise the quality control processes and facilitate compliant labelling with role-based access, approval workflows and electronic signatures. Outside of compliance, carrying out labelling in the cloud drives scalability and productivity for small medical device manufacturers and boosts overall efficiency.

The latest cloud labelling solutions integrate with other cloud solutions, allowing for seamless functionality and minimising the need for local infrastructure resources and cost.

When it comes to validation, as with many labelling systems, those hosted in the cloud have vendor-supplied documentation that streamlines the process and significantly eases the burden when it comes to installation qualification (IQ). The manufacturer itself has a much lighter burden and a streamlined path to a validated system and process.

A more relaxed software release schedule eases the validation burden on life sciences companies because the software is updated once a year rather than multiple times. This gives them a continuously updated and maintained labelling solution without increasing the validation workload on their IT staff.  

Future-proof technology

The manufacturer would of course need to work closely alongside the vendor and review the documentation, but, if needed, the vendor is able to do much of the work for them, providing not only the full validation acceleration pack but also professional services to assist with the validation process.

While some medical device manufacturers choose to tackle validation on their own, the vendor supplied validation acceleration pack or documentation helps to simplify the process. Consultancy and advice around validation is usually available from the vendor, tailored to the business’s specific needs.

Given the immense hassles of compliance for small device manufacturers, cloud-based labelling systems offer the benefits of a full label management system while easing compliance and validation. This is a future-proof technology. With a cloud-based labelling system, medical device manufacturers can be confident that they are running the most up-to-date software, enabling them to address the fast-changing new regulations and cope with whatever comes their way. And especially in the current pandemic, when face-to-face meetings are still problematic, it is a perfect way to keep labelling operations moving forward.

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