In a highly specialized and technical field keeping up to date may seem like climbing Mt. Everest. As a follow-up to the Keeping up with Pharma: Resources Strategic Sourcing Experts Use to Stay Informed I'd like to provide a simplified roadmap and several examples to navigate the closely related medical imaging device field. This includes an introduction to terminology, what areas of focus are commonly presented, and a look at the leading societies and online news sources.

Getting familiar with terminology is the key step to abate confusion before it starts. Although, this can pose quite a learning curve if not focused on a specific area of interest. The terms biophotonics, biomedical imaging or optics, medical imaging, and bioMEMS have very specific interpretations, but can be considered as simple search keywords for the first pass. It helps to associate imaging with the traditional approaches of light microscopy, x-ray, ultrasound, and MRI. While, photonics and optics are usually related to new and emerging technologies such as laser and fluorescence microscopy, fiber-optic instruments, and microfluidics and microelectromechanical methods.

The search for information is simplified by relating the area of interest to the commonly presented divisions within the field. Science (research), medicine, techniques, tools, and business trends provide common categories. For example, if considering melanoma diagnosis and treatment BioOptics World, and Medical Physics are good first stops.

For in-depth reviews of current techniques and tools review articles are indispensable. The Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) publishes several journals related to biomedical and medical imaging. The Optical Society of America (OSA) is widely recognized for its optics journals, but also publishes biomedical optics express to highlight evolving technology in the field. Open access information is available from both societies.

Well organized databases are critical, such as the The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) which provides access to biomedical and genomic articles in the health and science fields from the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM). PubMed Central (PMC) serves as the free full-text archive of NIH/NML journal literature.

For everyday updates, short descriptions of innovations in the field, and business news the sites from Photonics Media, and PennWell Corp. relate the technical aspects of the field to the activities of the leading companies.

Although, Photonics is the most well known site from Photonics Media, the BioPhotonics portal filters articles centered on the biomedical industry. They present short descriptions of recent research, product, and business news with a link to the original journal and author's site. The buyer's guide can be very useful when searching for suppliers in a specific area.

BioOptics World is PennWell's site for the biomedical community. They also separate research, medicine, techniques, and tools while linking advancements in the field to business trends. Laser Focus World and Strategies Unlimited serve as links to the optics and market intelligence communities. Although reports are offered for a fee, viewpoints are given from both the supply and demand side of the market and are based on in-house data collection efforts. This helps when trying to predict the market directions of new technologies or applications.

Gathering news articles, and keeping track of trends in technical fields can be a daunting prospect, but a systematic approach along with dependable publications can ease the introduction. By concentrating on getting familiar with the field's terminology trade publications and journal articles will become more accessible. With the wide availability of open-access literature a thorough and focused research initiative can then be carried out utilizing the associated society publications, databases, and market intelligence reports.

Image courtesy of http://www.ryerson.ca.

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