The high cost of low-performing medical devices

Guest post by my colleague Patryk Fournier, medical marketing communications manager for QNX Software Systems

Manufacturers of consumer products have long used money-back guarantees to promote laundry detergent, newspapers, pizza, and yes, even beer, as a way to reassure consumers about the purchase they are making. You can now add medical devices to the list.

Last week, Reuters reported that medical device manufacturers have begun to offer device performance and reliability guarantees to hospitals:

“Medical device makers, facing sluggish sales and increasing pressure to prove the value of their products, are beefing up guarantees to compensate U.S. hospitals if a device does not perform as expected.”

Medical device manufacturers already operate in a challenging environment filled with stringent regulatory requirements and industry pressures. They must develop increasingly complex devices in timelines that are more typical of consumer-grade electronics, but difficult to meet in a regulated industry. The added burden of providing compensation to hospitals simply adds a cost line directly attributed to device performance or reliability issues.

These product guarantees underscore the importance of building a medical device on a solid, robust, and reliable realtime operating system. Not having a reliable OS will cost medical device manufacturers — literally and figuratively.

At QNX Software Systems, we’ve been taking reliability seriously for almost 35 years. That’s why our OS supports intelligent fault recovery to enable high uptimes, time partitioning to ensure availability of critical processes, security mechanisms to help devices from attack, and realtime determinism to help applications meet hard deadlines. Moreover, this OS technology has been deployed in dialysis machines, infusion pumps, angiography systems, CT scanners, surgical robots, heart defibrillators, and a host of other medical devices.

No, we don’t offer money-back guarantees. But I think we offer something better: tools, services, and certifications to help our medical-device customers save time, money, and effort in the first place.


They did it! Solar Impulse team makes non-stop flight from Japan to Hawaii

Solar-powered plane sets new endurance record while completing toughest leg of round-the-world journey.

Touching down in Kalaeloa
Source: Solar Impulse 
Now here's good news for a Friday afternoon: The Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane outfitted with QNX technology, has landed safely in Kalaeloa, Hawaii, after completing the longest leg of its round-the-world mission and setting a new endurance record for solo flight.

The plane lifted off from Nagoya on June 28 and touched down in Kalaeloa almost 120 hours later, using the sun as its only power source. And did I mention? The plane had only pilot, AndrĂ© Borschberg, who was at the helm for the entire 5-day flight. Yes, he was able to take naps while the plane was on autopilot — but only 6 a day, each lasting 20 minutes. Color me impressed.

The team’s round-the-world flight, which started on March 9 in Abu Dhabi, hit a snag when the plane reached Nagoya, where weeks of bad weather threatened to cancel the project. But, finally, a five-day window of clear weather opened and the team was able to resume its historic journey, which is dedicated to the promotion of green energy.

The team’s other pilot, Bertrand Piccard, will fly the next leg, from Honolulu to Phoenix, Arizona. Piccard’s name may ring a bell, but not because of any Star Trek connection: In 1999, he became the first person to complete a non-stop balloon circumnavigation of the earth.

QNX Software Systems is the official realtime OS partner for the Solar Impulse team, and the plane uses the QNX Neutrino OS for several control and data communication functions. Read my previous posts for more information on the Solar Impulse project.