Closed-loop implantables

Shifting towards remote,
preventive and patient-specific healthcare

Imec at Holst Centre combined its extensive expertise in nano-electronics, sensor technology and AI to develop implantable and insertable medical devices with the potential to revolutionise healthcare.

Technology explained

Sensing. Acting. Healing. What if we could combine vital sign sensing capabilities with smart algorithms and actuation features in order to not only diagnose but also ‘fix’ a problem in the body? Just like a pacemaker does today, a multitude of closed-loop systems will help us in the future to keep an eye on a patient’s health. These closed-loop therapy systems can have many different form factors: wearables, invisibles, implantables and insertable devices (like a smart pill). These will help to improve diagnostics and treatments while the patient is in his home environment. Implantables are miniaturised, wireless, reliable sensor and actuator systems. Each device is customised for specific diagnostics, offering multi-sensor data harvesting with minimum power requirements. Smart algorithms translate this data into actionable insights and therapeutic interventions using wireless technologies to share this knowledge with caregivers.

Imec at Holst Centre developed implantable chips with extremely high electrode density that allows for the fine-grained recording and stimulation of nerves. The ultra-thin implants are biocompatible and flexible. They are extremely well suited for minimally invasive implantation of future-generation haptic prosthetics.

Societal benefits

The current healthcare system shifts towards wearables and careables for diagnostics and therapeutic care. The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated both the urgency and public acceptance of remote care. Continuous monitoring from home offers more reliable data than stressful snapshot diagnostics at the hospital. It allows specialists to focus on the patient and relieves them of repetitive, automatable tasks. But the biggest advantage of closed-loop systems like implantables is that they offer more effective patient-specific treatments, resulting in a higher care quality and lower healthcare costs.