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FCC Poised to Open Wireless Spectrum for Medical Devices
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has announced at a press conference today that the FCC will consider opening segments of the wireless spectrum for monitoring medical patients. If approved next week at the FCC's commission meeting it will make the U.S. the first country to allocate wireless spectrum for medical body-area networks (MBANs).
May 17, 2012
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has announced at a press conference today that the FCC will consider opening segments of the wireless spectrum for monitoring medical patients. If approved next week at the FCC's commission meeting it will make the U.S. the first country to allocate wireless spectrum for medical body-area networks (MBANs). The networks will allow information from mobile and wireless-enabled medical devices to be transmitted in hospitals, doctor's offices, and, eventually, even patients' homes. Device manufacturers will be able to streamline their product development and enjoy increased spectrum capacity and reliability.
Currently almost 50% of all patients in US hospitals are not monitored. In his statement Genachowski says that MBANs will enable patient monitoring in real time that is both accurate and cost-effective. “A monitored patient has a 48% chance of surviving a cardiac arrest. Unmonitored patients have a 6% chance of survival.” By allowing for continuous monitoring of patients, MBANs could help doctors respond more quickly in emergency situations and improve overall in-home patient care as well. Genachowski says, “With in-home patient monitoring premature babies could come home a little sooner, a father struggling with heart disease can be aware of his condition and still make his kids' soccer gamer, and a grandmother living alone could stay in her home and keep her independence.”
Current MBAN technology consists of small, wireless sensors that can be attached to a patient's body to monitor vital information, even while the patient is moving about. The sensors allow more freedom for patients that might be otherwise restricted to the bed, while allowing medical professionals to continously monitor patients. “You've heard people talk about the Internet of Things” Genachowski says. “You've heard about machine-to-machine connected devices. Well here's an example of these concepts coming to life. This is a big deal, and we're just at the beginning.”