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article Health and safety experts have raised concerns about how the devices will be used in the future, as the U.S. government prepares to begin allowing the sale of smart medical equipment.
While there are currently no plans to make medical devices like these “smart,” a number of medical experts are concerned that the devices are being used in a dangerous way.
“It’s becoming very clear that the health-related industries have become an industry unto themselves, and the technology for devices like this is becoming more and more advanced,” said Dr. Andrew Wiles, an expert on smart devices at the University of Michigan Medical School.
“I think that’s very dangerous for the public,” he said.
Wiles said that as the medical community is increasingly relying on smart medical devices to help manage the vast number of patients in the U-M Health Center, the UM Health System has begun to look at the issue more seriously.
“We’ve started to think about what we’re doing with this technology and how we can make it safer for patients,” he told The Hill.
“But the fact that we are using it, and it’s being sold, means that we’re also creating a liability risk for the industry.”
Wiles, who has researched medical devices for over 20 years, said that it is important to understand that smart medical technology can only be used for the medical purpose that it was originally designed for.
“That is, the purpose of the device,” he explained.
“The purpose of medical technology is to provide health care and it cannot be used to diagnose disease.”
When asked how he thinks this is going to play out, Wiles said: “It’s going to be a game changer for us, I think, because we’ll have more control over the quality of care that we can provide, and that’s a huge step in the right direction.”
Health and safety expert Dr. Eric Barger, an associate professor of medicine at University of Chicago, echoed Wiles’s concerns about the safety of smart devices in the current medical environment.
“The health-care industry is a complex enterprise,” he added.
“It will take more than just a few cases to have these devices used to treat patients, but a lot more.”
Barger said that while medical devices are generally safer than a lot of other devices, the safety issues that have come up in the past are “a little bit of a mystery.”
He added: “We have some concerns about a lot [of] medical devices, but it’s just a little bit beyond the control of any company to determine what’s safe and what’s not.”
Dr. Michael Brown, a professor of infectious disease at Harvard Medical School, said he’s worried that the government could put a number on the number of cases that will be caused by smart medical products.
“They’re not going to tell you, ‘How many cases we’ve got to go through,’ ” he toldThe Hill.
“But they will say that we need to take some action.”
He noted that the number is a direct reflection of how much we’ve learned about medical devices over the past year.
“What’s really going to drive the public’s attention will be the amount of data we have to see,” he noted.
Brown added that there is a lot at stake in this issue, as it comes down to the safety and privacy of patients.
“How much will the technology be used?” he said, “and what will happen to that patient data?
The whole health-system is going through a lot right now, and a lot has to change.”
In the meantime, Barger and Brown are continuing to research the devices and their capabilities.
“If you want to be an expert in a specific field, the health care industry is an important one,” he continued.
“And we have a lot to learn from each other.”