From the November 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Health care costs are continuing to rise and governments in various countries are trying to lay down policies to lower costs.
Wireless networking technology seems to be the latest solution adopted by vendors as a means of lowering costs by improving patient monitoring in hospitals and at home. This is because the wireless networking technology helps to reduce reliance on scarce labor, while increasing the accuracy and timeliness of vital patient data.
One major cost in health care is manually recording information for critical-care patients. In order to solve this challenge, one approach is to record and monitor using wired sensors. However, because of the risk of infection, considerable time is spent setting up, as these need to be disconnected and reconnected when patients are moved.
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Hence, the health care industry is unilaterally moving to the solution of using wireless sensors for recording and monitoring of vital signs such as heart rate, blood glucose and oxygen levels, blood pressure, pulse, temperature and respiration. If a patient is in a medical facility, the recorded data would remain local, where doctors or nurses could process it. If remote, the recorded data needs to be transmitted to a hospital, doctor’s office or other monitoring station. Implants connected to medical devices are another important wireless application. These networks that operate around and inside the human body are broadly categorized as a Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN).
A WBAN contains a number of portable, miniaturized, and autonomous sensor nodes that monitor the body function for health and emergency applications. It provides long term health monitoring of patients under natural physiological states without constraining their normal activities. In-body sensor networks, especially, allow communication between implanted devices and remote monitoring equipment. They are capable of collecting information from implantable cardioverter deﬁbrillators in order to detect and treat ventricular tachyarrhythmia and to prevent sudden cardiac death.
A number of industry initiatives, such as CodeBlue and Mobi-Health, have contributed to establishing a proactive WBAN system. These systems perform real-time analysis of sensor data, provide real-time feedback to the user and forward the user information to a telemedicine server. MIT Media Lab is developing MIThril that gives the complete insight of a humanmachine interface. HIT lab focuses on quality interfaces and innovative wearable computers.