Boyd enables the next generation of wearable medical patchesApril 25, 2022
Wearable and disposable stick-to-skin medical patches have long been associated with wound care in the form of sterilized or medicated gauzes and bandages. In recent years, technology advancements and the rise of telemedicine have enabled greater functionality for stick-to-skin wearables and a rise in consumer demands as smart medical wearables now monitor and communicate patients’ health indicators.
Smart medical patches can improve patient care and recovery by increasing real-time continuous monitoring of prescribed activities, vital signs and other health events. Together with the use of new software and artificial intelligence, this data can improve diagnosis accuracy and speed as well as increase the efficiency, convenience, customization and cost management of healthcare.
This article reviews some of these smart wearable devices and how Boyd, a global leader in engineered materials, multi-functional material integrations, and stick-to-skin adhesives, works to innovate, design, and manufacture solutions that enable the next-generation of medical wearables and devices.
Smart medical wearable patches
Smart skin sensors and medical patches are being developed for a variety of complex medical purposes and applications, including vital sign monitoring (heart and respiration rate, body temperature, blood pressure), medical diagnostics (muscle, heart and brain activity, sleep), and the detection of biochemical indicators or biomarkers for ailments (glucose, lactate, alcohol, caffeine). These medical patches can be worn inconspicuously by the patient, allowing them to undertake their normal activities during monitoring.
Smart medical patch technology is enabled by technological advances in several different fields, such as miniaturized hand-held electronics, flexible and lightweight circuit technology, wireless communications technology (Bluetooth, infrared (IR), radio frequency identification (RFID)) and near field communications (NFC) technologies, high power miniaturized power sources and batteries and biocompatible materials.
As these wearables must be able to function and properly communicate from wherever the user may go. This means that the electronic circuit within these patches must be protected from the environment while remaining highly reliable and inconspicuous. In addition to top rated stick-to-skin adhesives, patches may also need material solutions such as EMI shielding or waterproofing.
Wearable medical patch adhesive considerations
Wearable and disposable medical patches are comprised of several composite material layers, including an adhesive, substrate, electronic circuitry and a protective cover that must satisfy several different requirements.
Fundamentally, they must be capable of adhering to human skin, which may secrete sweat, oils or other bodily fluids. Since they are not designed to be permanent, they must be easily removed and discarded by the user without damaging the skin or environment. During use, they must withstand a variety of environment conditions such as running water, high and low humidity, and hot and cold temperature extremes. Since human skin is inherently soft and flexible, the skin patches must also be soft and capable of bending and stretching without damage or loss of adhesion. Finally, the materials and adhesives used in the patches must not cause skin irritation or allergic responses.
For over 90 years, Boyd has been a world-leading innovator in engineered materials, material sciences, and thermal management for critical biomedical applications. In addition to developing innovative multi-component solutions for smart medical patches, Boyd’s materials and products are used in a wide variety of other medical applications, ranging from insulin pumps and sleep monitoring to advanced wound care, surgical tools and larger medical equipment such as MRIs. Developers of smart wearable medical patches need to merely provide us with the circuit, design, and specifications, and Boyd will provide the materials and do the converting that brings it all together as a patch that we can send back for packaging. Boyd can also efficiently support customers in developing medical wearables from conceptualization to scaling up to high volume production by selecting optimized materials and streamlining sourcing, developing highly efficient, lean manufacturing and assembly processes, and ensuring strict adherence to Medical Industry Standards including utilizing a range of clean rooms available at many of our global design and manufacturing sites.