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Electronics & Test

Sensor Monitors Patients' Health in the Cloud

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Beth Stackpole
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Remote monitoring has real potential
Beth Stackpole   5/24/2012 7:51:13 AM
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Very cool development and one I expect we'll see much more of. I think the ability to monitor vitals for really sick patients from afar will really help providers deliver more proactive care. The big question is how comfortable (not physically, but emotionally) patients will be with someone consistently monitoring their every involuntary move. A little Big Brotherish, but I suppose if you have a medical condition that requires acute attention, this is a real life saver.

naperlou
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Re: Remote monitoring has real potential
naperlou   5/24/2012 9:37:44 AM
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Beth, I have seen a talk a couple of times by an Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) alum by the name of Martin Cooper where he talks about such sensors. 

What he was emphasizing was that if we really want to improve health and lower costs we have to practice preventative medicine.  These sensors and the information systems behind them, are one way to do that. 

One thing that does scare me though is the mention of the "cloud" associated with medical records.  That is not secure.  That is why most spending on the cloud is for "private" clouds.  If they are talking about the network, that is one thing.  Then it is not really the cloud, but the Internet.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Remote monitoring has real potential
Ann R. Thryft   5/24/2012 3:38:33 PM
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naperlou, I also wondered when I saw that these medical records are being filed in "the cloud."  I'd like to know more about what exactly that means--whose cloud? My local medical network that my doctors are part of has my records available online. Since it's centered in the heart of Silicon Valley I'm not too worried about security on their servers.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Remote monitoring has real potential
Rob Spiegel   5/24/2012 3:54:49 PM
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Good question about whose cloud, Ann. However, I think I would trust a vendor's cloud over the servers at my local medical facility. One of the gates to entry for most cloud vendors is a very sophisticated security system.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Remote monitoring has real potential
Beth Stackpole   5/25/2012 7:45:41 AM
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I agree with Rob. I've reported on cloud fairly extensively and the truth is, most of the providers, whether it's a public cloud or a private cloud, have much more extensive and sophisticated security measures than most individual companies, and especially individual physician practices. Given privacy regulations around HIPAA, companies in the medical field are highly regulated as to where they can put their data and the safeguards they put in place. What that means is that most will pay much more attention to the security aspect before they move forward with any kind of cloud-based venture.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Remote monitoring has real potential
Rob Spiegel   5/25/2012 11:05:44 AM
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Good points, Beth. An automation vendor with a could-based option told me about a conversation with a customer. The customer asked how safe the data was. The vendor explained the security measures. Then he asked, "How safe is your server in this building?" Clearly, the cloud server was more secure.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Remote monitoring has real potential
Ann R. Thryft   5/25/2012 12:29:17 PM
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Rob, in general I'd agree with you. That's why I mentioned where my medical facility is. To be more specific, it's a huge network headquartered in Palo Alto, where many Silicon Valley leaders live. My medical network's cloud keeps their patient data as well as mine. Palo Alto is where I believe the first municipal fiber network went in. At one point years back when the Internet was young, something like 90% of its backbone servers were located in Silicon Valley. So the experience and sophistication levels are extremely high.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Remote monitoring has real potential
Rob Spiegel   5/25/2012 1:04:03 PM
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Yes, it sounds like that's plenty secure, Ann. Might not be the same story here in Albuquerque, NM. However, almost anything is probably going to be more secure and more useful than that traditional manila folder from the past.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Remote monitoring has real potential
Jack Rupert, PE   5/27/2012 5:21:54 PM
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Interesting that you should mention cloud security.  I was just discussing with another engineer on a different post.  The real question is the transmission between the patient and the cloud.  I'm getting from the article that this is done solely at the health care providers' office, so one would hope that there is secure transmission there as well. I've known some places that have banned wireless laptop connections for security reasons.  Not that I agree with that, but when you're talking about these types of records, it does give you something to think about.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Remote monitoring has real potential
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   5/27/2012 10:48:39 PM
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I think you may be missing the point when discussing concerns about private or public clouds and confidentiality.  Internet security was best established when companies such as VeriSign helped control on-line credit cards transactions.  And really, what are you more concerned about when it comes to on-line security –-- someone discovering that you have an enlarged prostrate, or someone cleaning out your bank account?  HIPPA vs SSN? I think its no contest.

 

I believe the point conveyed in the article is the ease of automatic monitoring.  Ten years ago, a household-name cellular manufacturer (who shall remain nameless) launch the Moto-Health initiative, where body-worn sensors such as the ones described here would wirelessly transmit the collected data, un-assisted by the patient, via short band frequencies such as BT, WiFi and ZigBee to an appropriate transceiver enabled cell phone. The phone, in turn would transmit the appropriate data to whoever polled it via the I.P. enabled cellular network --– a doctor, a hospital, or a concerned spouse or caregiver.  It was smart, effortless technology, and it SHOULD have taken off, revolutionizing the Health care industry.

 

The idea was a brand new business initiative in 2002 that the hapless marketeers of my Name-Less Cell Phone Company couldn't seem to get the appropriate traction in the health market.  Today, no-one even knows that Moto-Health made the attempt, as that corporate giant has been restructured, (now for the Nth time), and finally sold out completely to an Internet company named Google.  

 

(** sigh ** )

 

Sorry.  I really get worked up when great technology efforts get squashed by inept management.  

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