Scotland is ideally placed to pioneer the next generation of healthcare technologies needed by patients across the globe, according to experts at the University and Institute for System Level Integration (iSLI).
The message comes after companies from across the country attended an event to identify opportunities in the worldwide wellness and medical devices markets.
Hosted by the University, the event brought together leading academics and companies in the engineering, science and medical sectors to investigate the development of new technologies, from wireless sensors to monitor a person's health to telecommunications for remote diagnosis.
It was organised by the University in conjunction with Strathclyde Institute of Medical Devices (SIMD), iSLI, the Wellness and Health Innovation initiative and Strathclyde Links.
Professor Patricia Connolly of the Strathclyde Institute of Medical Devices at the University of Strathclyde, said: "The need for new technologies to tackle healthcare problems - and improve preventative medicine - has never been greater.
"With an ageing population, new devices are needed to help people manage existing medical problems at home and prevent new illnesses from occurring. The rise of home blood pressure and glucose monitors is an example of how people can monitor their own health to ensure early detection and prevent potentially life-threatening conditions developing.
"Equally, in a clinical environment, there is a clear demand for new imaging and diagnostic equipment, as well as intelligent medical devices for surgery and rehabilitation.
"Scotland has a proven track record as a leader in electronic technology and a pioneer of medical devices. By bringing together expertise from the engineering, science and medicine sectors, we are ideally placed to meet the international demand for effective healthcare innovations. SMEs interested in working in this sector can also access support from the organizations sponsoring the event to help them enter the field."
Professor David Wyper of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, a keynote speaker at the event, said: "Delivery of new instruments, devices and technologies for patient benefit in the 21st Century will depend heavily on close cooperation between clinicians, academics and industrialists and we are happy to be at the forefront of this."
It is estimated that the global Wellness market alone was worth $200 billion a year in 2007, with projected growth to three times that by 2012.
Dr Mark Begbie, a director with iSLI, said: "Products of all types are becoming ever more reliant on complex electronic systems to provide the high levels of functionality, ease of use and data presentation that the market demands. From a device as simple as a pregnancy test stick to a multi-million dollar MRI scanner, electronic systems make the difference.
"Much is already being achieved in Scotland. Indeed, ISLI, Heriot-Watt University and Optos plc have previously partnered to develop elements of the Optos product which enable it to automatically track the patient's eye to optimize performance. We fervently believe, however, that there is much more we can do.
"We have all the elements in place locally to bring disruptive healthcare innovations rapidly to market. By linking the people with clinical insight and fresh ideas to those who can transform these into a customer ready product we have the potential to radically shorten the product development cycle. The real benefit of this event will come in the ideas we take forward to product development as a result."
Janette Hughes, Project Manager at the Wellness and Health Innovation initiative, said: "Innovative application of new and existing technologies in a collaborative environment will play a major role in delivering the solutions to the challenges of providing a 21st century healthcare service.
"Collaboration between clinicians, researchers and commerce and has been placed at the heart of improving patient care in Scotland’s E-Health strategy. This joint approach, endorsed by this event, will also provide significant opportunities for visionary Scottish companies to compete in a rapidly growing wellness and health market and improve the lives of people world wide."
The event - Opportunities for Electronics in Healthcare - featured presentations on new medical products developed through multidisciplinary research. They include an award winning device that monitors how well wounds are healing to bring faster relief to patients - and could save health services millions of pounds from unnecessary dressings, and a breakthrough digital imaging system from Optos that allows an unprecedented view of the eye. Optos founder and former CEO, Douglas Anderson, also gave a presentation on developing and commercializing healthcare technology.
7 September 2009