The future of remote patient monitoring could be looking a little brighter if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moves forward with its plan to allocate a chunk of unused spectrum for wireless medical devices. The spectrum would be used to support what the FCC is calling Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs).
MBANs would open the door for monitoring systems — which currently attach patients to machines using a mass of wires — to operate wirelessly using low-cost wearable sensors. Wired monitoring systems make it difficult for patients to move about, and they increase the chances for errors and hospital-acquired infections.
MBANs will enable hospitals to monitor a much larger percentage of patient population and more quickly identify health events that require intervention. This, in turn, should lead to better patient care, improved outcomes and lower costs.
For example, a monitored hospital patient would have a roughly 48% chance of surviving a cardiac arrest, compared with a 6% chance for unmonitored patients, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski told reporters during a presentation at George Washington University Hospital on May 17. Genachowski called MBAN’s “the next big step” in health care, and a cost-effective way of monitoring patients in real-time.