Discussion: New Technologies for Diagnosis and Therapy
Schuetz, referring to elegant approaches to disposable sensors, asked what the price of such a sensor should be to justify its description as disposable. In the health service and hospitals there was a trend towards gradually reducing the disposables because of the expense. Forbes, speaking as someone working in the National Health Service, stated his view that it was probably more expensive to have non-disposables in that you pay more for the time to clean, sterilise and repair breakages. He had, however, no idea of the price appropriate to sensors. The disposables used at present ranged from syringes costing a few pence to oxygenators which could cost between £100 and £200. Thus, even though disposables are expensive, they could still be cheaper. Prohaska stated that oxygen and temperature probes each cost about £80 to £100 because only 10 000 probes have been sold, but this cost would reduce drastically if mass production were possible, since the transistors and integrated circuits cost only a few pence. However, mass production is only possible if the market is present. The only advantage which these sensors have at the present time is that their performance is better, and they can be taken off the shelf and used for measurements in the field, possibly without calibrations, since they have their own internal calibration. Prohaska, replying to a question from Schuetz, agreed that these devices could be used for applications other than medical. The only restriction was their sensitivity to high temperatures, electrostatic charges, vibrations, etc.
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