2012
05.17

This morning, I learned that hospital patients suffering a heart attack have a 48% chance of surviving if they are being monitored at the time of the event, while patients who are not being monitored have a mere 6% chance of making it through. These numbers were cited by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who spoke earlier today from the George Washington University Hospital in favor of dedicating spectrum to MBANs (medical body-area networks).

MBANs are wireless patient-monitoring systems, and, according to Genachowski, these low-cost devices represent the future of healthcare technology. During the live FCC Webcast, Genachowski was preceded by representatives from GE Healthcare and Philips Healthcare. Each hammered home the value proposition offered by realtime data in the hands of physicians.

Simply speaking, MBANs are wearable sensors that collect and transmit physiological data from patients who are in the hospital, on their way to the hospital, or even at home after discharge. These sensors monitor vital signs during the crucial emergency-transport stage, and then provide continuous monitoring as a patient is moved through different wards of a hospital.

Anthony Jones, chief marketing officer, patient care and clinical informatics, Philips Healthcare, says in most of today’s hospitals a patient is wired (literally) to his hospital bed by monitoring equipment. Not only is this type of system expensive, it is uncomfortable, and it limits patient mobility.

Perhaps most importantly, this wired monitoring system does not follow a patient home. All too often, a patient suffers an adverse event during recovery that results in readmission. With MBANs, these adverse events may be significantly reduced thanks to remote monitoring by a physician.

If these types of wireless patient-monitoring systems reach mainstream, it could allow for earlier intervention, speeding diagnosis, reducing healthcare costs, and maybe even saving lives.

This is exactly the kind of value proposition a connected world offers. Yes, I’m thankful every day that my smartphone helps me avoid (some) Chicago traffic, and I’d hate to go back to my world before Kindle, but what I really get excited about is how M2M technology can help us make decisions that impact our health and wellbeing.

The FCC will address MBANs and spectrum as part of its open commission meeting next week. If you want to meet some of the innovators on the cutting edge of M2M technology in the healthcare and emergency-response sectors, be sure to register for the Connected World Conference, June 11-13 in St. Charles, Ill. Also, check out our agenda for sessions called “Doctors in the House” and “When Seconds Matter.”

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