From Nordic Semiconductor: How to design connected drug delivery devices
Written by Thomas Søderholm from Nordic Semiconductor
Connected drug delivery systems can improve quality of life for patients, reduce work for professionals, and save money for healthcare providers, but designing them can be difficult.
Getting the product right is usually a matter of compromise between cost, battery life and design. You can often get two out of three spot on, but rarely all three. If you want a small design, you must sacrifice some battery life. If you want to do everything for everyone, costs will increase, and if you want a device that does everything and lasts forever on a single battery, your design is going to become extremely complex.
> Read more: Smarter medical monitoring
Nordic Semiconductor’s chips use very little power to deliver high throughput of data and can run for months on a single small coin-cell battery. The small size enables solutions to be developed that can fit into tiny spaces without compromising the design too much.
Choosing a chip
The main choice initially is between Chip Scale Package (CSP) and Quad Flat No-leads (QFN). CSP is a simpler package that’s generally smaller. QFN, on the other hand, will likely be bigger.
Smaller isn’t always better. In QFN, a lot of the work is done for you so it’s simpler to integrate into a product. A two-layer circuit board will do the job, whereas with CSP you’ll likely need a more costly four-layer design.
Unless the smallest possible size is your primary goal, a QFN will most often be the more cost-effective route to a reliable product. The increased cost of the chips is offset by the ease of the circuit board design and at 5mm the size is small enough to fit into the form factor required by most devices.
The main consideration for battery life is ‘How long does my product need to last for?’. A single-use injectable, or a pen-injector that lasts for six months before being replaced, will be able to do a fair amount of computing on a single battery. If your device needs constant or very frequent connections then you’ll need either a bigger battery or a rechargeable or replaceable solution.
Bluetooth 5 chips require very little energy to run. With most applications, Nordic chips can run for months, or even years, on a single battery. Our chips can help you make sure that you won’t need to compromise on battery life to make a great product.
Bringing down costs
A ‘cheap’ solution can end up being more costly in the long run. Parts are usually cheap because they’re poorly designed or poorly manufactured. Investing a few more cents in a product that has a track record of reliability and efficiency can make your overall solution cheaper.
Safeguarding the patient’s health
The most important considerations outside of product design are security and safety. Any medical device needs to be approved, usually by a government body like the USA’s FDA. How secure a device needs to be depends largely on its function. An injection pen that talks to a smartphone is going to be secure by design, but it also needs to be safe from data corruption to ensure dosages can’t be wrong.
> Read more: Security of connected medical devices
Nordic Semiconductor is already designing into FDA-approved products and we have a wealth of software and hardware testing experience that can ensure your time to market is reduced by getting it right first time. Whether you choose to develop your own products in-house or work with a preferred specialist partner, we can support you all the way through the process.
We offer a total solution, with support in all aspects from concept to market, to ensure you produce a product with great features, great battery life and great design at an affordable price.
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