Sunday, May 20, 2012

Considering New MBAN Rules

On May 17th, FCC Chairman Genachowski was joined by GE Healthcare and Philips Healthcare at George Washington University Hospital in Washington D.C. to announce that the FCC is going to consider new rules at the Commission’s meeting this week. The objective is to allow greater use of spectrum for “Medical Body Area Network” (MBAN) devices to help spur innovation and the development of new wireless health technologies.

MBAN technology consists of small, low-powered sensors on the body that capture clinical information such as temperature and respiratory functions. The technology consists of two paired devices being used. One device is worn on the body (sensor) and another device is located either on the body or in close proximity.

MBAN Technology would transform patient care enabling:

  • A cost effective way to monitor every patient in a healthcare institution
  • Reliable monitoring and enabling healthcare providers a chance to identify life-threatening problems or events before they occur
  • Parts of MBAN spectrum to be used outside the hospital and in patients homes

The MBAN technology would provide a small lightweight and noninvasive way to continuously monitor a baby’s health, enable devices to collect health information for the elderly or those with chronic diseases, provide continuous monitoring to help prevent sudden or acute deterioration of a patient’s condition.

According to Genachowski, under the new rules under consideration, the U.S. would be the first country to allocate spectrum for MBAN devices. Greater access to spectrum could revolutionize the healthcare industry. Costs could be reduced since physicians could intervene before a patient’s condition seriously deteriorates, disposable wireless sensors would also help decrease hospital-acquired infections, and the remote monitoring of patients with CHF alone would create an annual savings of over $10 billion a year.

MBAN would also greatly help the mobile health industry consisting of mobile applications, cloud-based data management, wireless medical devices, and many more innovative solutions to increase patient engagement and improve the delivery of healthcare services. Today, almost 17 million people are accessing health data on their mobile phones in the U.S, a 125 percent increase since 2010.  Mobile Health is expected to be a $2 to $6 billion industry by 2015.