Patient monitoring with no wires or cables
I am a member of the Radio Frequency and Photonics Laboratory at GE Global Research. We develop a variety of RF sensing and wireless communications technologies. Most recently, my colleagues and I have been working with GE Healthcare to change the game for ambulatory patient monitoring with Medical Body Sensor Networks.
You might ask, what are body sensor networks (or BSNs, as they are known in my world)? Well, they are basically a collection of non-invasive and body-worn devices that are capable of collecting a variety of real-time information about a patient’s medical condition inside or outside a hospital or assisted living facility. The great thing about this data is that it can be collected and then processed locally at the patient or transmitted electronically to a centralized monitoring station, so that a doctor can monitor how a patient is doing whether they are checking them at the hospital or from their office and even home.
We think BSNs could play an important role in helping healthcare providers meet growing patient demands in an increasingly challenging work environment. With approximately 80 million baby boomers in the US, the number of hospitalized patients is projected to increase as this population ages. This increase comes at a time when many doctors and nurses are retiring. Reporting requirements for hospitals also are significant, with more than 300 different requirements that need to be managed. BSNs could help healthcare providers do more with less and ensure patient care continues to remain strong.
One way they could help is by reducing the time it takes to administer care. An industry survey indicated that 40 percent of patient care time, for each active critical care bed in a standard hospital setting, is spent manually recording patient monitor information BSNs would provide a much more efficient, automated approach to monitoring.
While technology advances permit the development of BSN devices, the challenge of interference and coexistence between many nearby patients must be addressed. GE has been participating in the IEEE 802.15 task group to develop a standard for body area networks, including medical BSN applications. GE has also petitioned the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to allocate licensed radio frequencies for medical body sensor networks.
On June 29, 2009 the FCC acted on our petition and issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on the allocation of such a radio spectrum. For more on the FCC action and on BSNs, check out a video I did for GE Reports, GE’s corporate blog. And if you have questions, feel free to post comment. Thanks!
- Contactless vital signs monitoring
- GE Healthcare to address FCC and FDA on wireless medical device innovation and reliability via special purpose radio spectrum
- GE technology a ‘guardian angel’ in the hospital room
- Mount Sinai working with “rocket scientists”
- Using software to save lives and improve health care