As telecommunication and wireless technology advances at an unprecedented rate, it is not surprising that it has also recently been deeply integrated into the medical field. And the results have been nothing short of promising. Not only are doctors nowadays able to monitor their patients remotely, but the inception of this technology has also been key to the improvement of doctor-patient efficiency and general service delivery as a whole.
That said, here is a quick primer on some of the base technologies applied as far as medical applications of telecommunication go.
1. WiMax – It’s a secure data transmission technology that enables communication over fairly large distances ( up to 50 to 70km ), with speeds high as 70Mbps.
2. WLAN – One of the oldest and first wireless technology to be integrated into medicine. The WLAN is simply as bigger and wide scale version of the Local Area Network but optimized for a hospital environment.
3. WPAN – Combines the flawlessness of Bluetooth and Zigbee technologies and mostly utilized in medical monitoring systems that have recently been deployed in modern clinical settings.
4.WBAN – It makes use of a body-integrable networking system by combining several lightweight and tiny low-power monitoring devices to monitor a patient’s health.
Despite the above remarkable advances of wireless technology in medicine in the past decade, it hasn’t been without its fair share of challenges. This includes factors such poor to non-existent relevant infrastructure in most parts of the world to support this kind of technology. But even in developed countries, the advancement of wireless tech in medicine faces serious hurdles such as transmission problems, poor data integrity, node failures and non-compatible network and communications infrastructure. For this and some other reasons, leading experts in the healthcare niche have questioned the reliability of this technology especially when it comes to remotely monitoring the health of critical patients.
The bottom line, however, is that there exists tremendous potential of wireless technology in healthcare. The past few years has seen wireless technology gain traction in advancements such as operation assisting which has allowed surgeons greater flexibility in theaters. In addition to this, more companies behind some of these technologies have been investing a lot of time and money in coming up with ways of boosting real-time monitoring of patients using biomedical sensors such as the electrocardiogram ( ECG ), EMG, blood pressure sensors, etc.
But perhaps the biggest break of wireless technology yet to be seen is in its application in remote monitoring of patients. This mostly applies to the sickly, elderly and chronic-diseased patients that require round-the-clock doctor surveillance. So instead of being hospitalized permanently ( and accruing a hefty bill in the process ), the technology is used as a replacement of mandatory presence of a medical personnel. If implemented, this will not only save doctors’ time but also enable simultaneous monitoring of multiple patients in different locations thereby improving general health care quality as a whole. Combine this with the fact the data collected in this process can be used to create databases for research and development of better healthcare products and you will appreciate that wireless technology offers promising prospects if implemented well enough.