Secure Wireless Connectivity for Portable Medical Devices

Portable medical devices are crucial in modern healthcare for realizing cost-efficient remote outpatient care. Secure wireless connectivity allows device makers to create a safe and convenient user-experience.

Why Use Bluetooth in Portable Medical Devices?

The surging ambulatory care requires continuous, remote monitoring of the physical body conditions. The enabling wireless devices and applications must feature robust IoT device security, small form-factor, and high energy-efficiency to enable accurate and safe operation with long life and low cost. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) checks all the boxes, providing manufacturers and device makers with an optimal wireless solution.

What Are Portable Medical Devices?

Portable medical devices monitor and track a patient’s physiological conditions continuously. The collected health data can be viewed remotely on a smartphone app via a Bluetooth connection by a healthcare professional. The wireless connected portable and wearable medical devices are crucial in enabling outpatient ambulatory care services. 

Bluetooth Low Energy is the most deployed wireless connectivity technology for portable medical devices such as blood glucose meters, continuous glucose monitors, blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, insulin pumps, cardiac monitoring systems, and more.  

What Drives Portable Medical Devices Market?

Governments worldwide are reducing healthcare costs by increasing efficiency and patient reach with outpatient ambulatory care services. The global ambulatory care service market is expected to grow 4.8% yearly, reaching US $113 billion in 2026 (US $77 billion in 2018). Hospital inpatient stays have been declining for decades, and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend as hospital capacity had to be released rapidly for acute care.

Outpatient Ambulatory Care

Outpatient ambulatory care can reduce healthcare costs radically, prevent the viral spread of diseases efficiently, and allow more people to access comfortable and faster care remotely. Wirelessly connected medical devices enable continuous patient monitoring post-acute and in rehabilitation. Patients can now enjoy an everyday life at home, while healthcare professionals conduct consultation, observation, and medical diagnosis cost-efficiently, safely, and remotely.

What do you need to know when designing portable medical devices? Read on for the top 3 design considerations for medical device makers.  

IoT Security in Portable Medical Devices

Portable medical devices collect, process, and transmit private health data, making security your most critical design consideration. Silicon Labs’ Bluetooth solution is secured at all levels to safeguard your portable medical devices against the most sophisticated logical, physical, and wireless attacks, protecting your patients' privacy. Our Secure Vault firmware enabled the world’s first wireless SoCs to achieve Arm PSA Level 3 certification and gives confidence to OEMs and technology that Silicon Labs' solutions have been tested independently for IoT device security.

  • Bluetooth Stack Security - Our Bluetooth stack implements all standard security features to protect your applications against the wireless threats. 
  • Secure Software - If security beyond the Bluetooth specification is required, Silicon Labs hardware supports mbed TLS as a trusted execution environment for Bluetooth applications. 
  • Chip-level Security - Our hardware implements robust security via secure boot with the root of trust and secure loader, secure over-the-air (OTA) update, crypto engine, true random number generator, and Silicon Labs’ cutting-edge Secure Vault technology.

How to Optimize Power Efficiency

The product lifetime in portable medical devices can vary from days to months of stocking and use before disposal. This makes power optimization challenging and a crucial design consideration. The ingenious layout design in our EFR32 Series 2 chipsets minimizes the total SoC power consumption (including the MCU and radio) in standby and active modes. You can achieve up to 10+ years of operation with a coin cell battery for your devices. It also provides a smart way to enable long shelf-life for products sold over the counter. 

Increasing Accuracy of Portable Medical Devices

High accuracy is one of the top design considerations for medical devices. The analog front-ends on our EFR32 Series 2 hardware enable you to design highly accurate medical products – these include a 16-bit analog to digital converter, 12-bit digital to analog converter, and precise on-chip voltage references. The advanced Series 2 design ensures that the analog blocks perform as expected during the Bluetooth radio operation. 

Portable Medical Device Block Diagram

Block diagram of typical portable medical device design with wireless SoC, analog front end, sensors/actuator interface and display capabilities. Silicon Labs EFR32 covers both the Wireless SoC & MCU capabilities. 

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