It was the Greek poet Archilochus who wrote: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Nate Silver, author of “The Signal and the Noise,” recently brought this aphorism back into prominence when he used it to differentiate thinkers who believe there are many ways to solve a problem from those who view the world through one big idea and tend to be more stubborn and ideological in their views.

The healthcare profession, like many others, is made up of both foxes and hedgehogs. But it’s the medical device industry, a subset of healthcare, where foxes reign supreme.

The fox mindset has become dominant out of necessity. The complexity of medical devices continues to increase at an astounding rate. As new technology is adopted the bounds of what is possible grows. Technology has advanced to the point where a doctor can perform robotic surgery with the precision of peeling the skin off a grape. An ophthalmologist can detect cardiovascular disease in a patient without physically examining them in the office. 3D printing has brought the construction of artificial organs and tissues from the pages of a sci-fi movie scripts to reality.

As a trusted operating system (OS) provider for hundreds of thousands of medical devices, we have had a front row seat at this astounding evolution in medical device technology. Our OS has been trusted with blood diagnostics, ultrasound imaging, infusion delivery, heart monitoring and resuscitation, robotic surgery, and numerous other applications.

We have had the honor of contributing to Medical Design Technology, writing about issues that we see medical device manufacturers grappling with -- issues such as buy versus build, the reliance on smartphones for critical health applications, and the manageability and security of medical devices. And now, we are proud to tell you that we will become monthly contributors. We will continue to tackle the issues that keep our customers up at night, such as:

  • the challenges of bringing wireless connectivity and mobility to medical devices
  • rising expectations about the user experience of medical equipment and of complementary devices, including phones and tablets
  • concerns about security from both a hackability (system) and privacy perspective (data)
  • movement towards consolidated hardware and software platforms across product lines
  • growing complexity of regulatory compliance

I will be joined in this column space by my colleagues Chris Ault and Steven Dean. Chris Ault is a software designer and senior product manager responsible for the QNX Software Systems medical software portfolio. He is an avid electric guitar player and water skier, and a skilled carpenter. Steven has over 15 years’ experience in the medical device field and is currently responsible for leading the medical initiative at QNX Software Systems as the global healthcare segment manager. In his downtime Steven’s enjoys spending time with his wife Kathy of 30 years, his three children, sailing in the tropics, and home brewing. 

We look forward to having you read along and look forward to your feedback.


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