Shortly after his death this past October, Steve Jobs was memorialized in The New Yorker magazine in a story provocatively titled, “The Tweaker.” The piece, written by author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell, hailed the visionary Apple CEO’s “real genius,” which Gladwell argued was not Jobs’s ability to invent new things but rather his knack for refining existing technologies. The iPhone, for example, wasn’t the first mobile phone; it was a better mobile phone. This year’s Medical Design Excellence Awards finalists seemed to follow his lead.
“It was really striking how there were very few really new things,” jury chairman Stephen B. Wilcox says of the submissions. “We didn’t really see any completely new technology, and by that I mean something to either address a condition that wasn’t addressed before or something that clinically was really unique.” Instead, many of the devices entered into the competition were improved iterations of products and technologies that have been around for some time.
“People are inventing things to try and make healthcare more efficient and do more with what we have,” says juror Edward G. Chekan, MD. “We didn’t see a lot of new platforms or new developments. What we did see were people saying, ‘Let’s take what we have and make it better, lower the cost, or make it more efficient.’”
From an easier-to-use inhaler to smaller, cheaper, and more efficient versions of an x-ray machine, a ventilator, and a prosthetic foot, the 2012 finalist products included features to make existing medical device concepts better. The areas of innovation covered products which were designed for:
•easing the burden of chronic disease
•bringing devices down to size
To read more about the winners and trends, go to "Four Trends from the 2012 Medical Design Excellence Awards", which originally appeared in our sibling publication MD+DI (Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry).
About the author
Jamie Hartford is the associate editor of MD+DI and MED.
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