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Applying Tech: Telemonitoring

Mon, 06/27/2011 - 11:53am

 How are you influencing Telemonitoring devices?

 

Jon Adams
Business Development Manager, Medical and Connectivity Operation
, Freescale Semiconductor

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“Help me, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Since before the turn of the century, that was what many pictured when they heard the term telemonitoring. At best, it meant a remote caregiver voice-calling individual patients via POTS on a regular basis, asking how they were doing, and jotting down a brief note. Telemonitoring now means sensors, wireless communications, and embedded processing, driven through groups like the Continua Health Alliance, of which Freescale is a promoter member and very active technical participant. The caregiver can be connected to a myriad of healthcare and wellness devices (weight scale, glucometer, blood pressure monitor, personal activity monitor, home thermostat, and safety and security monitoring) via both wired and wireless backhaul networks and short-range wireless, like ZigBee. Every device has sensors, a microcontroller, and wireless connectivity, and in my role leading technical guidelines development and standards selection for Continua, the challenge is to drive interoperability and system simplicity while making sure the architecture can provide high quality of service, strong privacy, and security, and reliable measurements to the electronic health record and the care provider’s network. Those old TV commercials serve as a reminder of how far technology has come.

Dr. Terenzio Facchinetti
Health & Life Sciences Business Development Manager, UL International GmbH

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eHealth, telemedicine, EHR, interoperability, and other names are currently the key terms used in the discussion of the future of healthcare. The vision is to transform the current communication tools and utilization of medical devices and healthcare-related peripherals to a networked system capable of offering better service and care to patients and users, significantly contributing to the containment of healthcare expenditures, and stimulating the healthcare industry to develop new types of products and technologies. The keys to success of this ambitious undertaking are privacy, data transfer security, and safe interoperability of the medical devices and related peripherals. The entire picture could be envisioned as made up of three main sectors EHR/EMR and related communication, use of medical devices in an interoperable clinical environment, and mobile health (the use of mobile phones and mobile communications). All three sectors have specific safety requirements to be addressed in order to minimize the risk of harm to patients, users, and the environment; however, they are all interrelated as well. UL is actively engaged in working with industry and regulators to address these issues.


Julien Penders
Program Manager Body Area Networks, imec/Holst Centre

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Telemonitoring brings health monitoring, diagnostics, and care to the home of the patients. Intelligent body area networks consisting of wireless sensor nodes that continuously monitor vital body parameters, such as heart, muscle, and brain activity, will be instrumental in implementing this shift in healthcare systems. They allow people to be monitored and followed up on at home, doing their daily life activities. They provide long-term monitoring, while maintaining user mobility and comfort. By processing the recorded data in the sensor system itself, direct feedback to patient, caretaker, and doctor via in-house diagnosis is being enabled. When needed, it can trigger an alarm for immediate action.

A major issue in developing such body area networks is the reduction of the overall power consumption so that the system can be powered for several days or weeks on a small battery. Therefore, such sensor systems rely on a low-power platform comprising ultra-low power amplifier and wireless communication chips and data processors for increased lifetime. Optimized circuits and embedded algorithms for increased robustness to noise ensure reliable operation under daily life activities. The ultimate target is the realization of body area networks consuming an average power of 100 µW, enabling more comfortable, and cost- and time-efficient healthcare.

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