As the market for mobile, wearable, and patient monitoring devices continues to expand, companies looking to play in these spaces tend to focus on such important aspects as industrial design, ruggedness, algorithms, and miniaturization. But adhesives—critical components of many of these mobile medical devices—often get overlooked until failure or sub-par solutions becomes evident, according to Joseph Davin, group president at Scapa Healthcare (Windsor, CT).
"All of a sudden, we're getting contacted by new customers where their adhesives are failing," Davin recounted during an interview at MD&M East last week. "We realized that we have something unique here—our know-how and trade secrets to apply the adhesives, develop the fixation mechanism, and design it for low-cost manufacture to integrate it into a device."
Scapa has applied this know-how to the development of its soon-to-be-launched MEDIFIX mobile medical device fixation platform, which can be tailored to meet the specific requirements of an application. "There are many different facets that play into what is going to be the right solution for a customer," commented Michael Muchin, Scapa vice president of global sales.
Considerations that factor into the development of a custom adhesive solution include whether the product will require short-term wear versus long-term wear, placement on the body, and dwell time on the body. If a device is adhering directly to a patch, according to Muchin, an important determination is also whether the application requires the patch to be removable or permanently affixed to the device.
The typical patient and use environment influence the requirements of the adhesive solution as well. "If you have a diabetes management solution, for example, you may want something that has seven-day-plus wear time. It's the nature of a mobile device: These folks are active, they’re moving, they want to shower, they want to go to the gym. They want a device that's going to live with them and match their lifestyle," Davin said. "But if I'm making an adhesive solution for a patient monitoring company that has customers or clients in the ICU, that's an entirely different set of requirements than a person who is basically healthy and managing their condition."
Skin-fixation solutions for mobile and wearable medical devices also obviously need to firmly secure the device to the patient. However, Davin noted, they also must be relatively easy, convenient, and pain-free to apply, remove, and apply again in order to ensure patient compliance. Improving the user experience and, in turn, compliance, is a critical part of the mobile medical device’s value proposition, he added.
"Remote patient monitoring is just at its beginning," Davin said. "People want to be able to take control of their health where they can. For those applications where you do want to use an adhesive, put it on, and forget about it, that's where we can help."