Things You Need To Know About Embedded System Design In Healthcare

Key Takeaways

  • MRI machines, CT scanners,  X-ray apparatus, and ECG machines are examples of contemporary medical devices that incorporate embedded technologies.
  • Healthcare has several applications for embedded systems. They are used in practically every image sensor, including CT scans, PET scans, and MRIs, to monitor vital signs and magnify sounds from electronic stethoscopes and vital signs.
  • Patients can detect health anomalies early on thanks to embedded systems.
  • Doctors and other medical professionals benefit greatly from the use of embedded system applications in many different ways. Without doing exploratory surgery, doctors can identify health issues utilizing imaging tools through embedded systems.

Healthcare embedded systems are multi-micro component, single-purpose electronic devices. Naturally, they are also integrated into other devices or have their own form factors. In addition to more common independent items like pulse oximeters or electronic thermometers, they can also be found as intricately integrated components of bigger medical devices like robotic laboratory equipment and MRI tomographs.

End-users cannot alter the way medical equipment and gadgets function unless the device is disassembled since embedded system designs are concealed within their bodies.

Healthcare-embedded solutions are made to be highly reliable and technically autonomous. These systems are anticipated to function autonomously for many years or even decades without the need for human interaction or even tech maintenance.

Because of this, they operate with effective, straightforward logic and must maintain stability in the face of a variety of external conditions and dangers that more complex systems are vulnerable to.

If your health technology or LIMS project calls for the design and implementation of an embedded system, are you interested? For a consultation on embedded system development and the design of IoT applications and medical device programming projects, get in touch with our specialist.

Types of Embedded System

There are numerous categories for embedded systems, including

  • Mobile embedded systems
  • Standalone embedded systems
  • Real-time embedded systems
  • Networked embedded systems

Embedded system design involves a wide range of engineering details and customization choices, depending on the particular system type. All systems must be designed with consideration for and adherence to the interoperability standards for medical IT. Let’s examine how these various system kinds differ from one another.

Standalone embedded systems

This type of system can operate without a computing equipment. Their name implies that they work independently. Examples of biomedical freestanding embedded systems in the context of healthcare include:

  • Fitness trackers
  • Electronic thermometers
  • Glucometers
  • Tonometers
  • Electronic pulse-oximeters

Networked embedded systems

For operation and data transmission, this kind of biomedical embedded system depends on local networks and web communications. The following examples of embedded systems typically fall under the “networked” classification:

  • Monitoring devices for assisted living or memory care facilities and fall detection equipment
  • Robotic medical and surgical procedures
  • Testing equipment and solutions for laboratories
  • IoT-based solutions for monitoring inpatient health that include sensors, cameras, alerts, etc.

Mobile embedded systems

Handheld electronics (such as a tablet or smartphone, for example), along with some sort of synchronized biosensors, make up portable embedded solutions. For instance, we can discuss about remote cardiac patient ECG monitoring,

  • A web/mobile communication channel connects an ECG-monitoring biosensor to the server.
  • a tablet program for doctors who are in charge of tracking ECG activity and examining cardiograms for each patient.

Real-time embedded systems

This complex hybrid embedded solution unites a number of gadgets and technologies under the guise of an integrated system. In order to gather environmental data in real time from a network of sensors and transport it to a centralized node, frequently assisted by AI, to govern system reaction, this type of system typically needs reliable, high-capacity communication links.

Real-time embedded systems in the healthcare industry typically include wearables, IoT-connected devices, and medical equipment installed in hospital facilities.

This type of system…

  • There are many networked and synchronized sensors, actuators, and other single-purpose devices.
  • For one or more purposes, a number of interfaces and technologies are employed.
  • AI or sophisticated algorithms can be utilized to make decisions in an emergency.

For instance, intricate systems of this kind can be utilized to monitor patient health and provide robotic or automated medical care without immediate assistance from medical workers. Once enough data has been gathered and confirmed, certain activities, such as automated medication injection, can be carried out automatically.

Embedded System Design In Telemedicine Software

• Data or image transmission for analysis

Clinical data is “stored” with the patient record before being forwarded to the clinician for additional examination. The use of store-and-forward technology also allows for continuing remote patient monitoring and the management of critical medical indicators in patients.

• Helping people manage their own health

Patients can attend online discussion groups for peer-to-peer assistance and acquire specialized health information via the internet. According to surveys, patients are frequently willing to handle their personal health information via cellphones and are interested in exploring alternative sorts of care delivery via mobile devices . Phones can monitor blood glucose levels, blood pressure measurements, and vitals when connected to portable medical devices, and transport the data to personal health records.

• Remote monitoring is used to track changes in vital indicators

Remote monitoring is used to track changes in vital indicators such as body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rhythms in patients. Patients wear monitors or use gadgets such as scales at their homes that are linked to their doctors’ offices, allowing doctors to monitor their patients’ health without requiring an office visit.

• Telemonitoring in the intensive care unit (ICU) (e-ICUs).

These initiatives broaden the reach of critical care providers. Specialist physicians and critical care nurses maintain 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week tele-ICU centers that collect data from monitoring systems and track patients in ICUs in small hospitals, particularly those in remote locations.

Embedded system design for remote health monitoring

Implementation of the Sensor Nodes Circuit

It is a center for data processing. Through the “Wi-Fi” network, it is in charge of gathering data from various nodes and processing it to draw out important information. Due to the unpredictable nature of information arrival, it must always be active. We can identify two or more sinks to lighten the burden in a large sensor network where the charge is a little higher. Through the analog module, sensors are connected to the microcontroller. Written software in the microcontroller processes data, and the findings are delivered to the laptop through a Bluetooth connection before being sent to a web site.

The brain (the microprocessor) receives the electrical measured values from the physical environment through an analogue module and serves them to it in a comprehensible format for processing. The microprocessor and peripherals required for functioning are inside the microcontroller. The UART communication module connects the microcontroller and Bluetooth module. The decoding and encoding of data according to the Bluetooth standard is done by the Bluetooth module. To update and visualize the way sensors react to the outside world, a web site uses MySQL DB and PHP web programming.

Mixed Hardware/Software Solutions for the Embedded System Design Life Cycle

The embedded design life cycle differs from the idea of the embedded solution design process in that it is an iterative, high-level series of steps that incorporates specific technological processes—everything necessary for software and hardware development.

Although not unique, the life cycle of embedded system design has one distinctive aspect: during the planning stage, it is necessary to distinguish between tasks that are purely software- and hardware-related because these two domains require very different skills and must be assigned to separate teams that are working in parallel.

The following tasks are included in the embedded system life cycle:

  • Identify the product’s basic technical specifications.
  • Separate the software and hardware design processes into parallel production lines.
  • Iterate to improve the separation of the hardware and software project lines.
  • Develop distinct hardware and software design jobs.
  • Integrate/assemble the hardware and software lines’ component parts to achieve holistic functionality.
  • Test the product before releasing it in accordance with the rules.
  • Go to the phases of upkeep and improvement (reiterate the first step once possible and follow through the whole life cycle again for improvements.)
  • Discard the product if updating or maintenance are no longer viable.

We have experts in custom biotechnology application development,.NET software development, custom telemedicine solutions, and other fields where embedded programming is used, so make sure to contact Arkenea if you’re looking for some expert advice regarding embedded system design and development life cycle management.

Process for Embedded System Design

The overall design process of embedded systems can be summarized in the following high-level processes, notwithstanding the fact that different types of embedded systems will have a large variety of particulars and nuances (for instance, not all systems will require separate PCB design).

1. Analyzing the requirements for embedded systems

Collecting and clearly defining the requirements for your future embedded system is the initial step in the design of embedded systems. To be accepted by all project stakeholders, a clear system plan and vision must be created. After basic engineering is finished, the next step must be taken.

2. Determining the specific technical requirements

Advanced embedded system engineering is the focus of this level, which should produce technical specifications and electronic maps that depict the precise locations of micro-elements, circuits, and capabilities.

It is necessary to plan all communication and data transition/processing routes, technologies, and nodes depending on the type of your embedded system.

There are numerous things to think about…

  • processing choices
  • types of memory to be used
  • the required microcontroller parameters
  • the embedded system’s price.
  • Ports and accessories
  • operating voltages and available power sources

Additionally, it’s crucial to make sure your system is safe from hackers, particularly when data must be transferred between various nodes and devices in more complex system topologies, including multiple embedded systems. There are several software programs available that can assist you with duties related to embedded system engineering.

3. Design of PCB

The fundamental components of many contemporary electronic solutions, including embedded systems, are printed circuit boards (PCBs). You can build a virtual model to test your electronic schematics without using actual electronics once you have a design that outlines the necessary electronic components and how they are ordered and connected on the PCB. A PCB with all of its electronic components can be produced using a variety of more modern technologies (such as 3D printing) when the PCB design has been deemed safe and effective.

4. Prototyping

One of the most crucial processes in the embedded systems design for healthcare is this one. Making a device MVP (minimum viable product) using your embedded system(s) allows you to test and drive your product in actual settings. Your embedded system will typically be implemented by seamlessly integrating it with other embedded systems in the device so that they may work together.

5. Development of software and firmware

The following code-driven components must be designed, developed, and implemented during this stage of the design of embedded system software:

  • to power embedded system functionality with firmware
  • Software that works with embedded system features

Any higher level software (installable on PCs or mobile devices) can be coupled with firmware or embedded system components to receive data and hardware abstractions. Firmware is low-level code that is used to directly operate the embedded system (also known as embedded software).

A real-time operating system (RTOS), which produces a real-time, highly deterministic response to external situations, is an example of firmware that may be found in embedded systems. Firmware permanently resides in non-volatile memory blocks ( EPROM, ROM, EEPROM, and Flash).

6. QA & Bug Fix

Before it is introduced to end users and put into serial production, embedded system design, including workable prototypes and software development, should go through competent testing and bug-fixing. Electronics should be thoroughly tested under a variety of circumstances, including running close to their limits.

7. Maintenance

When an embedded system product is finally made available to consumers, customer input should be tracked, and if necessary, end users should be given access to any essential product maintenance.

Steps in Embedded Software Development

  • Let a health technology engineer create the electronic schematics and embedded system specs for your project.
  • Define the technology stack for your embedded software project, including the integrated development environment (IDE), embedded programming languages (Python, C, C++, Java, MicroPython,) testing software and hardware, compilers, debugging emulators, hardware and software, and more.
  • Keep in mind that some system types, particularly new medical devices with embedded systems, demand ISO certification and adherence to other standards. Determine the FDA requirements that apply to your type of embedded software and medical device and make sure your process is organized in compliance with HIPAA.
  • Hire or assemble a team of engineers with experience in both embedded and/or traditional software development, depending on the scale of your project.
  • Make sure a capable project manager is chosen to organize the project’s many tasks and phases.
  • Give these jobs to the appropriate experts, such as embedded developers and QA experts, among others.
  • Make sure you have access to medical specialists for testing and consultation. Keep in mind that the end users of your medical product—physicians, nurses, and surgeons—as well as their patients should have their interests reflected.


Arekenea is available if you require a qualified IT staff to collaborate with you on the creation of custom embedded device software and/or project augmentation.