The main benefits of point of care 3D printing involve enhancing the number of options available for clinicians when working with patients. In particular, the growth of on-site 3D printing hubs and regulatory clearance for software and hardware combinations makes it easier for 3D anatomical models to be integrated into traditional workflows without significant delays. Physical models make it easier to visualize surgeries ahead of time, with prints capable of being used to simulate procedures before going into the operating room.
When dealing with complex surgical and diagnostic scenarios, 3D printed models offer an additional resource to explain and illustrate planning to colleagues and patients. As a complement to virtual models, physical models can be designed to accurately represent the touch and feel of anatomies, making it easier to reassure patients ahead of surgeries. In addition, models can be repurposed as hands-on teaching aids for trainee clinicians.
In terms of operational factors, point of care 3D printing can help to improve general problems for hospitals and other clinical settings, from reducing the risk of revision surgeries through personalized models, to increasing the choice of bioprinting options through different structures that are compatible with the human body. Entire patient workflows can therefore be made more customizable and scalable to a particular institution.
The uptake of 3D printing in these settings has been recognized at the regulatory level by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, whereby devices and workflows can be factored into manufacturing and the development of new devices that incorporate printing, or that use it as part of validation workflows. Some more information on the current approach of FDA, and ongoing questions, can be found here.