Freescale Semiconductor -- working with software developers at Microsoft, UI Centric, Stonestreet One, and QNX Software systems -- has produced a reference platform that will accelerate development of medical gateways for the home. The gateways -- essentially electronic boxes -- will be capable of gathering data from nearby blood pressure monitors, blood glucometers, electrocardiograms, pulse oximeters, weight scales, and a host of other medical devices and sending it to PCs.
The reference platform would enable product makers to create a gateway linking handheld devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers, to medical devices, such as blood pressure monitors and glucometers. Source: Freescale Semiconductor
"The majority of us don't take a proactive look at our health," notes David Niewolny, medical segment manager for the Microcontroller Solutions Group at Freescale. "Right now, we don't do it because we don't have the tools around us to make it happen."
The new technology would serve as a first step in providing a tool to make personal, preventive health simpler. The reference platform is targeted at companies that may want to build such gateways. Those companies might range from medical device manufacturers to electronic product makers to companies that are involved in wireless infrastructure.
I guess I see the importance of this type of application for older patients or people who have chronic health issues that need to be monitored. But the idea of strapping on all kinds of gauges and monitors to have my health be continuously remoted monitored by me or my physician is a bit of overkill in my book. I'm all for wellness, but being a slave to it and getting obsessive over numbers would be a real buzz kill. Also, given that our health care professionals are already overwhelmed by the insurance mandate to squeeze in zillions of patient visits a day, I'm wondering who's going to be free to monitor all this good data in the first place.
Points noted, Beth, but I think it's good to bring healthcare into the real where decisions can be based on quantitative information. In point of fact, the problem now is not that there's no data, it's that it can't be accessed. The stumbling block to electronic medical records is the high cost for implementation at the health provider (i.e. doctor) end. The systems cost at least $60k. As for the dev board discussed here, it's great to see reference designs emerging, which will make it easier for the design engineering community to target this growing market.
I see your point, Beth - seems like a hypochondriac's dream. Although, monitoring like this could be a good thing in that it may keep people out of the doctor's offices by cutting down on unnecessary visits.
I get the point of feeling being monitored 24-7, but the idea behind all this development is that we need to change the way we are doing things. I have been a physician for more than a decade and people wait to go to see us when they already have a symptom, which is often too late and medical or surgical treatment is needed. If patients and physicians start changing more to a preventive medicine, rather than treatment oriented, a lot will be saved on health costs and the most important the health of the patient might be restored before it is too late.
We are used to track our weight more than we used to do in the past, also people without chronic and degenerative diseases track their heart rate while performing exercise and not only that we find now portable ECGs! There will be a day in which we all do this without feeling the burden of being “tracked”, physicians will also understand that it´s better to keep track of your patient than trying to put down fires and performing expensive and complicated surgeries along with expensive medical treatments to solve what would´ve just been a matter of lowering salt in diet, or doing more exercise.
I´d rather jog for 5 more minutes than having a cardiac bypass surgery J
@Dr. Fdez: Points well noted and I am iin favor of practicing preventitive medicine vs. the way the system works now where we shell out big dollars on treatments and surgeries that caught have been avoided. And Alex makes a good point as well about emerging reference designs bringing the costs down on many of these systems.
My dad is a former surgeon and he was part of group at a hospital experimenting with electronic patient records and monitoring systems back in the early 90s and it was a nightmare. The systems were expensive and kludgy and the medical staff wanted no part of them because they were an inhibitor, not a facilitator, to workflow and productivity.
Yes, there can be wellness overkill. As Jenn points out, this could end up being a hypchondriac's dream. The flip side is that you needn't walk around with sensors on your body all day. If you have a bathroom scale with wireless access, it could send your daily weight. If you take your blood pressure once a week, that could be automatically sent. If there's a way to wirelessly send a blood sugar reading, that could be done, too. I don't think it needs to be obtrusive -- unless that's the way you want it. As our source pointed out, they're hoping that some smart software engineer could develop a program that looks for the red flags, so physicians don't have to pour over reams of paper to find the data they need. The point is, the data is now available. How patients and physicians handle it is up to them.
Given that predictive analytics is a hot button these days, I would think once the medical device platforms are in it place, it will be no time before someone takes on this challenge and comes up with a variety of software solutions to this problem.
The analytics portion of portable medical and fitness devices is actually a huge opportunity. Many of them have wi-fi capability, and can download data to PCs, which in turn can be sent to healthcare providers or insurance companies. The possibility of quanititative data feeding into medical studies and then into healthcare profiles and planning are enormously positive, if of course the privacy issues are appropriately handled.
Good point regarding the privacy issues. There's a great opportunity here for another smart software engineer to develop a program that looks for a different kind of red flag -- one that potentially finds a loophole for the health insurer.
So far as I can tell, information on this dev board is either well-hidden or doesn't exist on the Freescale site. There are a number of interestintg kits, for example a gamers emotion reading dev kit... don't see this one or any info about it, only the HHH network.
Also, many of the wireless data transmission medical monitoring devices use proprietary communication encode/decode because Zigbee, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc, all require too much power or processing overhead.
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