Being the change in global healthcare

16th September 2021
Joe Bush

The global health IT and medical technology conference held by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is a key date in the calendar of any healthcare professional. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the pressures faced by healthcare organisations worldwide, 2021’s HIMSS show was even more important in highlighting the technologies that are reshaping healthcare. Here, Eric Lind, Vice President of commercial operations and business development at medical battery manufacturer Ultralife Corporation, reviews some of the key take-aways from the 2021 conference.

Although August’s HIMSS21 conference maintained the same theme of 'be the change' as the planned March 2020 event, there is no doubt that the message took on a decidedly different meaning in light of the last 18 months. The healthcare industry has been at the forefront of the pandemic response, which has meant that the sector has also experienced a surge of accelerated innovation and redefined practices.

Despite the recent pressures, Philips’ Future Health Index 2021 report indicated a positive outlook among healthcare leaders for the years ahead. This optimism was reflected in the atmosphere at HIMSS. The rapid innovation of 2020 showcased how resilient the sector can be, which has given many healthcare and medical businesses a renewed focus. This was summarised succinctly in a session from IBM Healthcare, with company transformation leader Kate Huey stating: “We saw things that would’ve taken us months and years that we really pulled off in days and weeks.”

Hardware is at the heart of many of the healthcare sector’s rapid achievements. An interesting observation from the exhibition floor was that medical original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were particularly active during the show. This is a natural consequence of greater healthcare digitalisation, especially when it has been accelerated by as pressing an issue as a pandemic.

In recent years, much has been made of the digitalisation of healthcare as far as sophisticated patient management software, enhanced diagnostic informatics and AI powered platforms are concerned. However, it is also important to recognise the advances in hardware that have made a difference on the front-line.

A prime example is the evolution of medical carts or workstations. These systems are becoming increasingly advanced for more effective point-of-care attention, with a range of computerised systems, powered devices and electronic documentation connected to a single cart. One workstation that was on show at HIMSS21, from Advantech, combines an all-in-one PC with a full HD digital scope and video conferencing software. This highlights the expanding role of medical carts in telehealth.

The sophistication of modern medical carts made Ultralife’s own stand at HIMSS an important and popular one for medical OEMs. HIMSS21 saw the first appearance of the new URS-X5 medical cart power system, a unique development that allows medical cart integrators to tailor the power system to the specific equipment needs used on the cart. The system was designed with the evolving needs of medical technology in mind, while balancing electrical performance with ease-of-operation for clinicians.

In addition to featuring up to two hot-swappable batteries, the X5 power system supports a hybrid configuration in which hot-swap batteries can be paired with an embeddable U1 battery for longer runtimes. This flexibility allows the system to be suitable for numerous applications, which attracted a lot of attention from OEMs and visitors during the exhibition - with many already asking for demos of the system for their upcoming projects.

The reception of the X5 medical cart system at HIMSS21 was a firm success for Ultralife and a mark of confidence for the product. More than this, it also reinforces the importance of medical hardware in times of innovation. Making equipment and devices as effective, efficient and dependable as possible is vital to resilient healthcare, both during a pandemic and in the years to come.

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