by Christelle Robelin, Linxens Healthcare Marketing Director
A revolution in the making
The commercialization of continuous glucose monitoring sensors for type 1 diabetics has revolutionized the management of diabetes. Indeed, it has allowed the optimization and personalization of treatments while greatly facilitating the life of diabetics. It is by far the most widespread application of smart patches with no less than 100 million units sold last year.
Another application less known to the general public, marketed in the United States but not yet in Europe, is the detection of cardiac rhythm abnormalities in people presenting symptoms of atrial fibrillation.
A smartpatch is a self-adhesive device that continuously measures one or more physiological parameters. These parameters can be heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation pressure, body temperature, pH, posture or activity. It sends wireless, via a relay box or a smart phone, data to a database stored on a cloud. An application on a smart phone or on the computer of a healthcare professional then processes the data using an algorithm. The vast majority of smart patches are medical devices. Some manufacturers are taking advantage of the "quantified self" trend to market devices for the general public.
What is a smartpatch?
A smartpatch embeds, on a biocompatible adhesive, a power supply, sensors as well as electronic components to process the sensor signal, record the measurements and transfer them to a cloud.
The miniaturization of electronic components as well as the development of electronics on flexible substrates and connectivity solutions have made the emergence of these devices possible. They must be comfortable to wear, i.e. light, discreet and conformable. They are usually worn on the shoulder or on the chest. They must also be biocompatible and breathable. They are often used for only a few days. Some devices are reusable. Only the adhesive part needs to be changed. Some models are even rechargeable.
What challenges does the smartpatch address?
Combined with a telemedicine platform, it allows patients to be monitored postoperatively at home rather than in hospital, thereby freeing up hospital beds and generating de facto savings for the hospital. In addition to the gain in comfort for fragile patients, it reduces the risk of contracting a nosocomial disease or Covid and the risk of postoperative complications. It allows to realize significant health savings on these items as well.
Finally, continuous measurement ensures more reliable monitoring of patients with chronic diseases (diabetes, respiratory diseases, chronic wounds) and better therapeutic effectiveness.
How can the smartpatch further revolutionize patient care and the healthcare system?
Transdermal smartpatches, like those used to monitor diabetics, could be extended to monitor other chronic or acute diseases in order to adjust treatments that can have harmful side effects when incorrectly dosed.
Chronic wound management incorporating smart dressings could detect infection earlier and avoid serious complications often leading to amputations or even death.
Finally, in the era of digitalization, there is a growing appetite from medical device manufacturers and the pharmaceutical industry to retrieve patient data in real-life conditions for clinical trials, or for treatment optimization purposes.
Linxens is a major player in the smartpatch sector
Few industrial companies have the capacity to mass-produce electronic on a single flexible substrate in reel-to-reel format, in compliance with ISO 13485 standards. Linxens brings these features together.
As a leading provider of smart card solutions, Linxens has had privileged access to major chip manufacturers for 30 years. Linxens assembles electronic chips and RFID antennas on electronic tracks created by deposition of selected metals on a range of flexible materials.
Linxens has developed over the last few years its skills in ink deposition for the realization of ECG, heart rate, skin temperature, effort and displacement sensors as well as the manufacturing of electrodes for the detection of biomarkers in sweat or interstitial fluid. Linxens offers the integration of a wide range of sensors.
Finally, Linxens can rely on its network of partners specialized in the assembly of biocompatible adhesives.