FCC holds MBANs future in its hands

May 29, 2012 – 4:05 PM | By Omar Ford | No comments yet

A patient lies tethered to a hospital bed with sensors and wires taking readings. Their mobility is severely limited and, on top of that, healthcare professionals have to be in a position where they can maneuver through these wires to treat the patient. This is a scenario that plays out in many hospitals throughout the country.

But that could change if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approves a measure that would expand the spectrum capacity for Medical Body Area Networks (MBAN), or wireless patient monitoring systems that use low-cost wearable sensors and allow clinicians to remotely monitor vital signs of patients. If the spectrum is increased, then this would give companies like GE and Philips Healthcare the greenlight to work on a variety of MBAN devices.

Some industry insiders have told Medical Device Daily that they expect the FCC will approve this measure, even Julius Genachowski FCC chairman indicated that he thought agency would vote in favor of expanding the MBAN frequency.

When this happens, the confusing ball of wires that we see patients trapped underneath probably won’t immediately go away, but in time we’ll start to see a transition. With that transition we will see more ease of use, less clutter in hospitals and better service.

As these changes occur, members of the med-tech industry said healthcare professionals will be able to identify patients earlier, whose conditions are deteriorating, and intervene in a more timely fashion. As these sensors become available they can become embedded in homes and long-term care facilities, which will give unprecedented monitoring for patients.

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