New eco-friendly breed of medical devices

  • Date 21 Aug 2012

Blood glucose monitor concept is easier to use and cuts environmental impact by two-thirds

More than 346 million people worldwide have diabetes*, and monitoring glucose levels is a critical part of managing the condition and preventing long-term complications. Insulin-treated diabetics are advised to test blood glucose levels four times a day. Many existing blood glucose monitors require separate lancets, test strips, storage tubs for carrying these items, and sharps bins for disposal. This can mean the devices are fiddly to use, inconvenient to transport, and wasteful.

Applying the Ecovation process, Cambridge Consultants conducted a ‘life cycle assessment’ on a popular blood glucose monitor to identify which elements had the highest environmental impact and so should be the focus for innovation. It was identified that less than 5% of the environmental impact could be attributed to the monitor itself – with more than 70% due to the high number of single-use disposables that are consumed over the lifetime of the device.

Ideas generated to reduce the environmental impact ranged from efficient packing of unused and used components, to safe reuse of ‘single-use’ lancets and test strips. The winning concept achieved a 65% reduction in environmental impact by integrating the functionality of three previously discrete consumables and getting the device to do the handling – not the user. The final challenge was then to create a single consumable cartridge, which was both reliable and suitable for manufacturing.

For the user this novel concept has significant benefits. The integrated monitor design is easier to carry around, with fewer consumables requiring separate storage and transport. The cartridge design means the user only has to worry about loading the device once every 28 tests – and, by combining the lancets and test strips in the monitor itself, the glucose test is far easier to administer and more discreet for the user.

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