How To Improve The Quality Of Medical Devices
Medical devices can range from simple items like bandages to complex machines like pacemakers. And every year, thousands of people are injured and die from defects in the medical devices that are supposed to keep them safe. This is why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), responsible for overseeing the approval of all medical devices sold in the United States, implements strict policies to ensure medical device manufacturers create quality products.
But seeking FDA approval isn’t straightforward, and you’ll come to learn of this as a medical device manufacturer. This is the reality of product approval even if the one you develop is lighter, more durable, and cheaper than those offered by your competitors. Fortunately, here are some proactive measures you can take to ensure you develop quality medical gadgets that’ll help your intended patients rather than cause more complications.
Practice Rapid Prototyping
It’s often hard to spot flaws in a design before production starts. Instead, you only begin realizing these defects once you’ve started production. Fortunately, you can avoid finding yourself in such a compromising situation by creating a prototype early on. But medical device prototyping isn’t just about identifying problems with your product. Doing this will allow you to address the issue before it’s too late, or even better, reconsider your original idea or find a better solution before investing—and potentially wasting—time and money.
Rapid prototyping will also help determine if your manufacturing process will work. If it doesn’t, you might have wasted months planning something that can’t be done cost-effectively.
In addition, rapid prototyping technology enables you to quickly test out different ideas and improve upon them before you start production on anything. This allows you to work faster than ever before, meaning the product will reach patients even sooner than if you had taken your time with traditional manufacturing methods. Thanks to this, you’ll have a better chance at creating a better product as well gaining satisfied customers.
Build A Robust Development Team
Building a quality medical device isn’t easy as it requires a lot of time, research, and resource investment. Because of this, it’s essential to create a strong development team comprising usability engineers, quality assurance managers, and device designers when building high-quality equipment. Only with the help of these professionals can you be sure that the medical device you’re manufacturing is of the desired quality before the product goes into mass production.
Without the help of a strong development team, all your efforts to build reliable and high-quality medical devices that can save lives would be futile. Therefore, you first need to get the right team to work on developing the medical gadgets. It’s also good to encourage everybody working on the project to share their opinions about how things should be done and how products should look. The more ideas you have, the better your decision on the quality of your product. This will help you avoid mistakes that may affect your customers.
Working with a strong development team will also help you create action plans. They’ll do this by setting timelines, budgeting, calculating total revenue, revealing hidden costs, and assessing risks. Accomplishing all these tasks will ensure the manufacturing process is efficient and fast.
Foster A Culture That Prioritizes Quality Within The Organization
The manufacturing of medical devices is only made possible thanks to the efforts of your employees. They’re able to achieve success by following the necessary procedures during product manufacturing such as during development and delivery. Every medical device manufacturer must therefore streamline operations across all departments by establishing resolute quality standard processes.
Besides enhancing quality within the organization, you as a medical device manufacturer should focus on developing a complete control program. Implementing all these measures will create a culture of quality within the company. As a result, this translates to the final medical gadget being of exceptional quality.
Ensure Scheduled Inspection of All Machinery
A great place to start to help you improve the quality of medical equipment is to ensure the regular scheduling of all the complex and high-speed machinery involved in manufacturing them. After all, only a well-oiled machine can make a high-quality medical device. And because these medical manufacturing machines are constantly churning out new products, they also have to be in peak working order at all times.
With this in mind, every machine used to manufacture medical devices must be fixed or replaced in the case of them breaking down. Otherwise, this opens up the chance for poor manufacturing quality to sneak into the process. And since every machine in the world has moving parts, there’s always the chance for something to break down or go wrong. So, it’s much better to be proactive and schedule routine inspections of all medical manufacturing machines before they can cause any problems.
A schedule will ensure that any repairs get done when needed and that regular maintenance checks are always carried out. Doing this will help you keep track of every single machine involved in the process, and if there’s an issue with one of them, you can figure out exactly how it happened and what happened as a result. A schedule will also help you know which machines require replacing before they break down and cause other problems for your end product. Therefore, you must ensure that all the devices are correctly serviced and thoroughly tested before being put into active use for the production of medical gadgets.
Perform Regular Audits
Another valuable way to improve medical device quality is by conducting regular audits. Many medical manufacturing companies few audits as a standard compliance requirement. They treat it as just a part of doing business instead of something that contributes to the improvement of the products themselves. But if you approach an audit with the right mindset, you can turn it into a valuable source of feedback on how to improve your manufacturing process and, therefore, your medical device.
Performing an audit will highlight many things that are going right, but it’s often the problems that provide the most valuable insight into how to best develop your product. Therefore, you shouldn’t look at it as a problem to solve. Instead, you should look at audits as something that’ll help you make your product better by revealing areas where you can make positive adjustments. They’ll also help you address issues with your manufacturing process before they start causing problems or even endangering patients’ health.
Another advantage of doing audits is providing helpful feedback on how a product could be improved. This is accomplished by measuring the current status of a product against its design parameters so you can identify ways to enhance both. If you’re doing an audit on a medical device, your development team needs to take steps to ensure they are getting honest and accurate advice from the auditors.
According to the FDA’s quality system regulation (QSR), every medical device manufacturer must do internal audits regularly. Knowing this, you should develop an appropriate action plan to guide you on how you must design and implement quality assurance protocols. In addition, to improve the quality of your audits, the auditors must be trained in their job and understand the proper way to conduct an audit to ensure that your data is as accurate as possible. Also, any issues identified need to be addressed promptly so that the team knows if the changes improved quality or worsened things.
Identify Product-Specific Requirements
The development of a quality medical device can’t be done without first identifying the specific requirements the product is expected to satisfy. This is why you must take time to pinpoint the exact quality requirements of the medical device you’re manufacturing must fulfill, and these include:
- Specific regulatory requirements
- Customer requirements
- Organizational policies and procedures
- International standard frameworks
- Internal standard frameworks
- Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP)
By observing these specific requirements associated with a particular medical device, you’ll be able to guarantee that its final quality does meet customer and industry standards.
Medical device manufacturing is stressful because you’re expected to provide your patients with the best possible product. However, humans are prone to error, and in case of any mistake during the manufacturing process, there’s a chance that your device could cause more harm than good. Luckily, automation could be the key to eliminating the possibility of any faults and consequently improving the quality of medical devices.
As a medical device manufacturer, implementing more automatic systems for production will help significantly reduce inaccuracies that usually happen during manufacturing. The more automated and streamlined the manufacturing process, the lower the chances for human error. These include misleading or mislabeling product components during manual production. Therefore, you’ll be more confident about producing medical equipment of the best quality.
In addition, automated production allows for greater consistency throughout the process. This is vital for medical devices because even minor inconsistencies in measurements can cause serious problems when implanted inside a patient’s body. But by employing automation, you’ll be able to avoid incidences of defective devices resulting from human error.
Embrace Quality Management Best Practices
Regarding medical devices, quality management isn’t just a buzzword but a legal requirement. Because of this, you need to implement quality management programs to guarantee your medical device meets FDA guidelines. This way, you can also ensure your devices are safe for patients. And because, as a medical device manufacturer, you already have enough on your plate to worry about, meeting the FDA standards helps ease your mind.
Once you’ve implemented an effective quality management program, you can shift your focus to ensuring your patients receive the highest level of care possible. But this can only be achieved if you develop high-quality medical equipment.
Implement A Robust Test Strategy
There are many ways to make sure your medical device is strong, dependable, and of high quality, and implementing a solid test strategy is one of the best approaches you should take. In doing so, you can validate whether the medical device you’ve manufactured can be safely used by patients and will sell on the market. This consequently helps minimize the risk of a problem affecting a customer’s health.
Testing effectively improves a medical gadget’s quality by allowing you to put it through its paces on the manufacturing floor. Doing this will help you see how this medical gadget holds up in real-life conditions. Some vital details you need to know about the medical device include how quickly it breaks down after being subjected to repeated use.
You should also find out whether its seams start to fall despite being made of high-quality materials. During testing, you should simulate other conditions that could strain your medical device, such as drops or knocks against hard surfaces. Once you do this, you’ll know how your medical device will stand against real-life issues.
Use Precision Tools
Medical device manufacturing is widely accepted as a highly complex and regulated process. And, because even a minor error in designing or manufacturing could result in severe consequences for the patient, all medical devices must be as perfect as they can be. Medical device manufacturers are adopting the use of precision tools to help them improve accuracy during manufacturing.
Precision tools have also been used in medical device manufacturing and has helped many manufacturers save time and reduce costs while ensuring high-quality results. The use of precision tools also allows you to cut down on waste products and materials. This makes the recycling process more accessible and further helps lower costs.
Today, medical equipment manufacturers actively seek ways to produce high-quality medical devices quickly. If you’re a medical device manufacturer thinking of improving your devices’ quality and safety, this guide has outlined everything you need to know. With these insights, you’ll be able to improve the quality of your medical gadgets to comply with industry regulations and standards. Doing this is essential because the medical sector is more vital than any other industry, so quality must always be a priority.