Using Embedded Systems in Healthcare
An embedded system is part of a larger operating system that is designed to perform one or two specific tasks. In the healthcare field, embedded systems are often used for data storage. Since healthcare applications may be used in rugged operating conditions with temperature fluctuations and exposure to shock and vibrations, it is usually necessary for OEMs to choose industrial grade embedded systems. Industrial grade products are designed for use in those demanding conditions and can withstand them without any loss of functionality.
Embedded Systems 101
As the name suggests, embedded systems are located inside of larger operating systems. They are part of device systems that include hardware, and unlike a general computer, they can only perform a very specific task. Most embedded systems are small in size and have low power demands. Embedded systems can be based on microcontrollers or microprocessors. Most people interact with embedded systems daily, even if they don’t realize it. Traffic lights, digital watches, MRIs, and avionics are all examples of devices that use embedded systems.
Embedded Systems in Healthcare
Embedded systems have many applications in healthcare. They are used for monitoring vital signs, for amplifying sounds in electronic stethoscopes, and in nearly every kind of imaging system, including PET scans, CT scans, and MRIs. Glucose monitors, pacemakers, CPAP machines, and a variety of biomedical sensors also rely on embedded systems. With biomedical applications, embedded systems allow doctors to remotely monitor patients’ health and make diagnoses and treatment decisions through telemedicine and other remote systems.
Embedded Systems and Treatment Management
The use of embedded systems in healthcare has empowered doctors and patients alike. Through embedded systems, doctors can use imaging tools to diagnose health problems without having to perform exploratory surgery, and they can use those same imaging tools to track treatment progress. The use of embedded systems in healthcare also makes tracking vital signs virtually instantaneous. For patients, embedded systems have made managing conditions at home easier. For example, with a glucose monitor, people with diabetes can reduce the number of finger sticks they have to perform while constantly being aware of their blood sugar levels.