GE Healthcare has launched an initiative aimed at developing wireless medical monitoring systems that could replace the tangle of bedside cables used to capture patients’ vital signs.
The company is developing body sensor networks (BSN), which will use sensor devices that allow for the wireless collection of crucial patient information, including temperature, pulse-oximetry, blood glucose levels, electrocardiogram readings, blood pressure levels and respiratory function. This information can be collected and transmitted to hospital staff in any location.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), acting on a petition by GE requesting the creation of a new Medical Body Area Network Service, has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on the development of a vendor-neutral radiofrequency band for low-power, short-range, wireless patient monitoring devices.
The proposal calls for the FCC to allocate frequencies of 2360 to 2400 MHz on a secondary, licensed basis for wireless medical devices, such as BSNs. The frequencies will provide a protected spectrum that will allow those wireless devices to function without interference from unlicensed radio devices such as Wi-Fi.
The development of BSNs will be valuable, GE said, because many hospitals treat their patients in specific areas based on monitoring needs. For example, patients might be admitted to an intensive care unit because of monitoring needs rather than specialized nursing care. BSNs should give hospitals more flexibility when it comes to patient monitoring, the company said.