In hospitals today, doctors often monitor critical care patients using bedside equipment combined with a tangle of a dozen or more wired connections and electrodes. But GE Healthcare, in conjunction with GE’s Global Research Center, is looking to revolutionize the way everything from heartbeats to brain waves are monitored in the future in a new initiative that leverages miniaturization and wireless technology to create so-called “body sensor networks.” The technology would enable wireless monitoring from anywhere in the hospital — or even remotely from home. Now the FCC has announced that it’s considering a proposal to establish a dedicated radio frequency band for wireless medical devices, which would remove a major obstacle to the widespread adoption of the technology. In the video below, David Davenport, senior engineer with the Radio Frequency and Photonics Laboratory at GE Global Research, explains how they work.
As David says, the technology not only eliminates challenges for the patient, such as reduced mobility and the risk of infection from cables that have to be sterilized from one patient stay to the next, it offers the chance to simultaneously bring healthcare costs down while bringing quality up — two key components of GE’s new healthymagination business strategy.
Today, many patients are treated in specific care areas in a hospital based solely on the type of monitoring required. For example, studies show that patients are often admitted to the intensive care unit because of a monitoring need, rather than for specialized nursing care. The new wireless sensors — which would collect critical information such as temperature, blood glucose levels, electrocardiogram readings, blood pressure levels and respiratory function — will not only allow hospitals to monitor more patients with fewer staff, they’ll allow doctors to quickly add or remove sensors as conditions change. Importantly, the sensors will allow doctors to monitor key vital signs while outside of a specialized hospital ward. For example, EEGs, a measure of brain electrical activity, could be measured outside the neurology unit.
“While the technology exists today to build medical body sensor networks, one challenge remains, and that challenge is wireless interference,” says David. “When you consider the large number of patients moving amongst each other in a hospital as well as moving about wireless computer networks, Bluetooth devices, cell phones, cordless phones — you have to address the potential for all of those wireless signals to interfere with each other. We’re very pleased by the FCC’s recent release of a notice of proposed rule making to allocate dedicated spectrum for medical body area networks. We believe very strongly that’s the last key ingredient needed to realize the benefits of medical body area networks.”
Check out these links to learn more about our healthcare research efforts:
* Read today’s announcement
* Read David’s blog post about the wireless technology
* Watch a video about GE’s work on a “1,000 Genetic Map”
* Watch videos about GE’s healthcare research labs
* Read “GE targets eco hospitals; composites in Europe”
* Read “GE’s software helps Shanghai breathe easier”
Click on these links to learn more about GE’s healthymagination work:
* Read “A view with some room: GE’s wider MR scanner”
* Read “Helping the docs at the nation’s largest free clinic”
* Learn about GE’s healthymagination strategy on cost, quality and access
* Read about GE’s work with clinics in India
* Read about GE’s donation of neonatal equipment in the U.K.
* Read GE Reports’ coverage of the healthymagination launch
* Read about GE’s Electronic Medical Records technology
* Read GE Reports’ story about our Health Advisory Board
* Read about healthymagination’s work with electronic medical records
* Read about our healthymagination work in Bangladesh
* Learn more about the partnership with Grameen Healthcare Trust
* Learn about our work in Cambodia
* Read our story about GE’s localized healthcare technology breakthroughs going global
* Read “GE systems boost cancer center case capacity by 900“