Designing for the Under-Served Pediatric Population

October 21, 2014

While the adult healthcare industry continues to grow in size and cost, the world of children’s healthcare remains fragmented and out of focus. More specifically, innovations in pediatrics appeal to smaller markets, due to being broken into numerous developmental phases and categories within the industry. Adult medical product opportunities are versatile and therefore present a greater market need, hence children are often treated using adult-sized equipment (i.e. unnecessary lengths of IV tubing hanging from a child’s mobile unit). The focus on pediatric innovation is so divided that pediatric patients are not being treated with the devices and products they really need.

Recognizing this unfortunate disparity, Ximedica Mechanical Engineer Tim Clarke was moved to get involved with Minneapolis-based non-profit, DesignWise Medical, which works to bridge this gap.

Tim has been developing a device in his spare time that will help intubated children sleep more soundly and with less physical discomfort. It is called the OPOD, or Overnight Pediatric Delivery System, and is comprised of a hood that goes over a child’s bed, using facial position tracking technology and thermal cameras to direct oxygen towards his or her face. The OPOD eliminates the need for a nasal cannula, which children usually pull out in their sleep, and gives them the freedom to rest comfortably with ample oxygen. Through this experience Tim notes how different some of the challenges can be in designing for a pediatric population in contrast to his typical work here at Ximedica. “Children are smaller, more active, and have different body structures and functions than adult populations. Their bodies are also developing at a very fast rate, which creates challenges with implanted materials and device longevity.”

“In addition, the information that children are able to give us about their experiences is challenging to obtain and often second-hand. While the individual device markets tend to be small to begin with, most of the feedback received is indirect, from the points of view of parents or caregivers.”

Designing for pediatrics provides indispensable lessons to all medical device design and developers - and no other population calls for innovation as do our children.

Learn more about Ximedica’s support of DesignWise Medical here.