Updated on 25 February 2013
Mr Francois Guibert, executive VP and president, Greater China and South Asia, STMicroelectronics
To get an idea of how much silicon technology will impact healthcare and wellness, we just need to look at how semiconductor advancements have shaped the evolution of other industries such as telecommunications and consumer electronics. Not only have the physical dimensions been reduced drastically (weight, width, height) but they have become easier to use, feature-rich, and their power consumption has improved tremendously.
This evolution has been pretty amazing. And the same technologies that facilitated these changes are being used to empower similar amazing changes in healthcare and wellness devices. Diagnostic machines that once filled entire rooms in hospitals continue to become smaller and lighter. Many other devices, once only available in doctor's offices or hospitals, can now be used at home or worn inconspicuously. Like our game consoles and phones, they can be used 24/7, providing a life-saving link to the hospital or personal physician monitoring our health. And by employing the same advancing technologies as those of the telecommunications and game industries, these devices are becoming smarter and more intuitive, very necessary features for out-of-hospital diagnostic and therapy applications.
Enabling technologies, societal needs
Aside from the pervasive availability of advanced silicon technology, there are societal factors involved in this evolution, such as the need to make healthcare more affordable and accessible and the rapidly growing interest in personal health and fitness.
Semiconductor technology is enabling this evolution on two broad fronts. The first is the continual improvement in traditional "medical equipment," ranging from fairly low-tech motorized hospital beds to the most sophisticated MRI machine. Like all industrial applications, these benefit from the universal "win-win-win-win" effect of semiconductor technology where we see a continuous improvement of price, performance, power consumption, and physical size.
However, it is on the second front where semiconductor technology is essentially redefining the healthcare industry, promoting and facilitating a dramatic evolution from a hospital or clinic-based approach to a cloud-based system that provides access to medical care potentially anytime and anywhere. In this new world, hospitals, clinics, and medical experts will continue to provide state-of-the-art diagnostic and surgical expertise while individuals and their local healthcare professionals will take on more responsibility for the day-to-day management of personal health and wellbeing, using a proliferation of "consumer" health and wellness products.