November 22, 2017 | Jeff Trail

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Single-Use Medical Disposables Smarten Up


As a result of the demand for sterilized materials, increased data, and high-quality health care, the medical industry has an enormous demand for single-use disposables. This focus on quality and health has had enormous implications. For example, the rate of central line infections has decreased by over 70% across the country over the last decade. A big reason for this decline is the utilization of single-use disposables that are less prone to contamination.  Now medical facilities are taking this one step further by incorporating highly sophisticated flexible materials into their applications. There are a few specific areas where these advances are particularly exciting.


Wound Care

An obvious case for single-use disposables is in wound care. Dressings come in many shapes and forms in order to accommodate the many types and sizes of wounds. The most basic requirement of a wound care dressing is to aid in healing while protecting against infection.  With the advanced wound care dressings available on the market, physicians can quickly contain a wound to help to start the healing process. Smart dressings include sensors that are able to send information regarding a wound’s progress to a nearby monitoring device. This next level of care looks to radically improves health care quality while making life more convenient for the medical staff.



While the main function of disposable gloves is as personal protective equipment for a healthcare provider, gloves can now include thin reading strips to provide indications of patient health. These provide indications through changes in color, electronic signals, or other methods. For example, the single-use glove may warn the physician that it has become contaminated by changing from white to blue.


Diagnostic Strips

Diagnostic strips are low-cost adhesive materials that are placed on patients to get critical readings to help provide a diagnosis. A diagnostic strip can include a thin embossed film that reads temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and tracks motion among other indications. Those readings can be transmitted securely to a nearby device for the physician to read. Previously, motion tracking and readings were done by separate diagnostic apparatuses. Today, strips can replace this equipment to some extent and dramatically reduce the need to invest in a multitude of costly machines.


Market Outlook

The market for single-use medical disposable is set to explode in the near future. There are several reasons for the growing demand. First and foremost, the aging of the population means more use of the health care system. Every day in the US, 10,000 baby boomers retire. These retirees are 3 to 5 times more likely to use the health care system than a healthy person in their 20s or 30s.

Secondly, the demands for quality and legal liability associated with mistakes are skyrocketing. Hospitals that don't do everything in their power to limit infections will be rated poorly against other facilities and could open themselves up to a lawsuit if a patient dies from an infection they receive while at the hospital.

Lastly, the technical improvements in the flexible materials make using these products extremely convenient and compelling for hospital staff. They are easy to apply to patients, noninvasive, provide critical readings for diagnosis, and as an added bonus, are becoming cheaper and more readily available.



Single-use disposables are already widely used in the medical industry due to the need for sterilized wound care dressings, surgical gloves, and more. As technology has improved and decreased in cost, single-use disposables are becoming smarter and are starting to aid in the diagnosis of patients.


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