Heart Simulation to
Simulation is something with which many people are
familiar, whether from video games, occupational training,
or movies. However, it’s not often thought of as being in-
volved with the development of medical device technology.
A collaborative effort is hoping to change that. This article
highlights the creation of a simulated human heart to test
designs for cardiac treatment innovations.
By Steve Levine, Chief Strategy Officer, Dassault Systèmes
We’ve seen simulation use steadily grow to accelerate the development processes for many industries. For example, aircraft companies use simulated models to understand in detail, even before it is built, how
a particular vehicle design will react to the extremes of its operating conditions
while maintaining standards for comfort, capacity, strength, reliability, and safety. Similarly, automobile engineers use simulation to understand how to tune a
design to protect passengers in a variety of crash situations.
By using simulation to streamline their development processes, they’ve saved
valuable resources that would otherwise have been wasted in a series of failed
prototypes. They also increase their time to market with increased confidence in
the reliability of their product. Simulation offers similar and, in many ways, more
opportunity for the healthcare industry, but it has been slow to catch on. Why?
Today, medical device manufacturers are facing growing pressure from regulators to increase the quality and safety standards of their designs. As a result,
the time and cost to obtain market authorization is rising and success is unpredictable. But the healthcare community is also in desperate need for innovation.
Medical needs are vast and the pressure is coming from all specialties to better
and more quickly solve today’s healthcare issues. So how do designers balance
the need with the challenges?
By using tools like simulation, it is possible to ensure that compliance and
innovation become complementary rather than conflicting processes. Imagine
if medical device companies could innovate the way automobile companies do
to bring new products to market with the confidence that new product designs
will perform as expected. Imagine the effects not only on companies’ bottom
lines, but on the patient experience.
The (He)Art of Innovation
Before promoting adoption of simulation as a sweeping tool across the medical
industry, Dassault Systèmes ( www.3ds.com) started with a specific focus, but
one with major implications. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause
of death worldwide, responsible for 30 percent of all deaths. That, combined
with the understanding that 95 percent of new devices in the U.S. are approved
without ever being tested in a human, made the heart and devices developed
for it a logical place to start.
The healthcare and medical industry is unique in that the consumer must
place tremendous trust in the products and community with little ability to
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