While the medical record-keeping needs of doctors, hospitals and insurance providers are major impulses towards cloud-based medical information services, patient monitoring is another, separate driver. There have been a number of devices approved by the FDA that are already on the market and a number of companies providing cloud-based platforms for managing the information flows from such devices. Two products are described below.
Chronic Care Management, Inc. provides MyVirtualHealthCheck, an SaaS service optimized for managing chronic health problems. The system utilizes wireless, in-home biometric monitoring devices, for recording information about vital signs, e.g., blood pressure, weight, glucose. The devices use Bluetooth to transmit through the company’s gateway to its cloud-based disease management platform. The platform integrates other information obtained by the physician about the patient. The company states:
“The physician can quickly establish protocols for patients or groups of patients. Each protocol allows triggers to be created for every vital sign to alert healthcare professionals of impending problems.”
Entra Health Systems offers the MyGlucoHealth Network a system for managing issues related to diabetes sufferers. The patient uses a meter, the MyGlucoHealth meter (FDA-approved). After depositing the blood sample in the meter, the meter reading of the glucose (sugar) level can be transmitted to a mobile phone via Bluetooth and then forwarded to a secure personalized page on the company’s cloud-based portal. (The patient can also use Bluetooth or a USB link from the meter to a PC to transmit the test result.) The patient and physician can share the results. Analytics on the test results are also performed and displayed on the portal.
Interestingly the Entera people state that they had tried to build a glucose test device using a mobile phone, but found that “cell phone technology was advancing at too rapid a pace to keep up with,” so they opted for a Bluetooth connected separate meter. Entera offers a version of the meter that is integrated with the 2net Platform from Qualcomm Life Inc. (discussed below.) The company also partners with Verizon Healthcare Solutions.
Entra sounds one of the general themes of the health information industry – better information improves care and reduces costs.
“Entra Health’s products and services touch both the patient and caregiver in recognition of their unique partnership. Entra Health provides technologies that improve patient care while at the same time reducing the burden on healthcare providers.”
Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs)
In May 2012 the FCC allotted 40 MHz of spectrum in the 2360-2400 MHz range for the use of medical body area networks. These are planned networks that would use worn, or implanted, low-power sensors on patients’ bodies to monitor vital signs, which would then be transmitted to a control device. The data could then be transmitted to caregivers. The concept is shown in the following diagram.
Medical Body Area Network Concept
MBANs are expected to be used first in hospitals, where they can reduce the need to have patients hooked up by wires to monitoring devices. This will save costs, reduce infection risks and give patients the benefit of more mobility. The ruling reserves 30MHz, 2360-2390 MHz, for use by healthcare facilities. These users will have to register (however, no license is required) and be subject to frequency use coordination rules. The remaining 10 MHz will be available for in-home healthcare monitoring (and will not require registration.)