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5/31/2011
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MIT Invests In Next-Generation Medical Technologies

In conjunction with GE and Analog Devices., the school has opened the Medical Electronic Device Realization Center to improve IT usability and foster innovation.

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The healthcare sector's deepening reliance on electronic devices and healthcare information technology systems has created a plethora of opportunities to develop innovative next generation medical technologies. To encourage these efforts, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has launched the Medical Electronic Device Realization Center (MEDRC), to develop products that address healthcare's new IT demands.

Announced last week, and created in collaboration with Analog Devices (ADI) and GE Global Research, the center will develop technologies that address the challenges and improve the usability of patient-monitoring devices, point-of-care instruments, communication technology, and ultrasound imaging equipment.

The MEDRC establishes a partnership between the microelectronics industry, the medical devices industry, medical professionals, and MIT to collaboratively reduce costs while raising the performance of medical electronic devices.

According to MIT officials, the center will foster the creation of prototype devices and intellectual property, and will serve as a catalyst for implementing innovative technology that seeks to reduce healthcare costs in both the developed and developing world.

One of the center's objectives is bringing together large businesses, venture-funded startups, and the medical community at a time when healthcare delivery organizations are transferring patient records from paper-based systems to digitized medical records.

As the volume of digitized medical records grows, officials say the center will help sort through the data to make it easier for physicians to quickly access important medical information.

"The future will see a proliferation of medical data--we are concerned with reducing data to actionable information," said Brian Anthony, director of the master of engineering in manufacturing program at MIT's Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity.

MEDRC scientists and ADI engineers plan to research technologies that enable portable, non-invasive monitoring of vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. Novel sensors of physiological signals, coupled with smart algorithms to process and reduce the data for communication with extremely low energy, are being developed by the team.

GE's ultrasound research team will work with MEDRC researchers to simplify routine ultrasound measurements and improve the quality and diagnostic capabilities of ultrasound imaging. GE researchers are building more intelligence into ultrasound probes in an effort to achieve higher quality images and aid in the diagnosis of disease.

Dr. Kai Thomenius, chief technologist at the Diagnostics & Biomedical Technologies Domain of GE Global Research, said in a statement that a major focus of GE's healthymagination vision for the future is to reduce healthcare costs, increase access and improve quality around the world.

"In line with this vision is our interest in bringing ultrasound technology to more patients in areas where healthcare access may be inadequate," Thomenius said. "We want to enable the next generation of ultrasound systems to have the intelligence to aid in the diagnosis of common medical issues, so that we can reach more patients in need of this imaging technology. In view of the dramatic reduction in size and cost of GE's scanners, this is particularly appropriate."

The Healthcare IT Leadership Forum is a day-long venue where senior IT leaders in healthcare come together to discuss how they're using technology to improve clinical care. It happens in New York City on July 12. Find out more.

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