According to Grand View Research, the global market for wearable medical devices is expected to reach $27.8 billion by 2022.1 Dow Corning reportedly sees the role of specialized adhesive technologies as a key driver of this growth, especially in skin- adhered medical devices, a major segment of the wearables market. Selecting the right adhesive for each device type based on factors such as duration of wear, skin condition, and device size and weight can have a significant impact on patient compliance and, ultimately, treatment efficacy. Advancements in silicone-based adhesive technologies are intended to offer expanded flexibility to support new device designs while meeting patient needs for comfort and ease of use.
“Wearable medical devices represent one of the fastest growing sectors in the healthcare industry, which is being fueled by several trends,” said Marie Crane, Dow Corning’s Healthcare marketing leader. “While wearable monitoring and treatment devices can deliver important benefits to patients, caregivers and the health system as a whole, their effectiveness depends on compliant usage―and compliance is closely linked to comfort.”
Medical Device Megatrends
Four major trends are driving the growth of wearable medical devices, including skin-adhered diagnostic and therapeutic devices.
According to the Administration for Community Living, people ages 65 years or older numbered 46.2 million in 2014 (the latest year for which data is available). By 2060, that population will more than double to about 98 million.2 Seniors typically have more medical issues than the younger population and can face difficulty traveling to the hospital or doctor’s office to receive care. Wearable medical devices allow more elderly people to benefit from convenient, remote monitoring and treatment at home.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as of 2012, about half of all adults 117 million people had one or more chronic health conditions.3 Heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity and arthritis often require ongoing monitoring, which can be provided with wearables. Wearable devices can also help with prevention by enabling patients to track their health and make healthier choices.
Patients’ increasing interest in managing their own health and fitness is another major factor in the growth of wearable devices. Skin-adhered devices can provide a range of self-management functions, from back therapy guidance and ambulation monitoring to smoking cessation and sweat analysis4 for evaluating exercise results.
Ongoing pressure to reduce spiraling medical costs can be alleviated by replacing some in- or out-patient clinical care with remote monitoring and treatment. Skin-adhered devices can wirelessly relay critical data to clinicians and automatically deliver medication, for example, via a programmed on-body injector.
Comfort Promotes Compliance
While skin-adhered diagnostic and therapeutic devices provide answers to the challenges of these megatrends, their efficacy and market success depend directly on patient compliance. Avoiding irritation during wear and discomfort during removal of skin-adhered devices, particularly when patients have delicate or sensitive skin, is an important compliance factor. This is why many device designers are turning to silicone pressure-sensitive and soft-skin adhesives. In addition to delivering proven biocompatibility, water repellency and design versatility, advanced silicone adhesives with different levels of tack, adhesion strength and other parameters can make it easy to find a match for each application. ASI
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1. “Wearable Medical Device Market Worth $27.8 Billion By 2022,” www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-wearable-medical-device-market.
2. “Aging Statistics,” Administration on Aging (AoA), https://aoa.acl.gov/Aging_Statistics/Index.aspx.
3. “Chronic Disease Overview,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview.
4. Fellman, Megan, “Researchers Develop Soft, Microfluidic 'Lab on the Skin' for Sweat Analysis,” https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2016/11/researchers-develop-soft-microfluidic-lab-on-the-skin-for-sweat-analysis.