Engineering Insights by Hartie Spence

ASH Industries Blog

Pain-free Type 2 Diabetes Managements

During the holidays, I was talking to a good friend (let’s call him Alex) from the medical device manufacturing world.

Alex is trim, an active outdoorsman, and Alex has suffered significant health struggles all stemming from Type II diabetes. The effects of diabetes has woven itself through Alex’s life and a number of problems have surfaced that have led to periodic hospitalization (obviously hindering his product design work). His problems have included heart disease, signs of kidney damage, hearing impairment, and disorders of his nervous system.

Alex understands the risk of diabetes and how every area of his life and ability to remain independent depend on proper medical management of diabetes. For this reason, Alex has made changes to his lifestyle and eating habits to “design out” as much of the ravages of diabetes as possible. Even so, Alex struggles with monitoring. Pricking his finger time and time again is not fun, is easy to put off, and is something that he struggles to justify when he is feeling so great. This daily trial and test of will power is the weak point in a chain of medical management with severe, long-term implications. A simple, yet painful and never-ending, act of “finger pricking” is a behavioral hurdle with direct bearing on Alex’s long-term health. He is certainly not alone.

ASH has seen the world of medical device manufacturing and product design possibilities explode. More and more designers are coming to ASH for device component and assembly solutions. Whether design engineers are engaged with our medical injection molding, silicone molding (LIM), or metal injection molding (MIM) manufacturing groups, questions like these are common in their approach to health care challenges: “How does our solution benefit our target group, does our solution significantly lower the risk of treating, managing, or healing this disease track, can the medical device manufacturing solution reduce the cost of treating a disease path, does this design remove a significant risk for the patient, and most importantly; does our device have a direct impact on the quality of life of our target market?” It is heartening to hear product development engineers, even removed from direct customer care, express deeply held convictions and passion that this medical development could make a difference.

Solutions, like the skin patch mentioned in this article, are a sign of things to come. Once a daily burden, finger pricking, may be designed away and no longer be a part of a diabetic patient’s life while simultaneously reducing the long-term risk of an insidious disease. A “once-daily necessity” will then be revised out of existence and reduced to an arcane method relegated to history by tenacity, heartfelt manufacturing drive, good medical device development, and people capable enough to make the solution work.



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