“Traditional wireless telemetry systems are often restricted to certain areas or floors of a hospital because the signals are limited,” the ASHE said. “MBANs would not have that issue, so patients could be placed in the hospital unit based on their specific medical condition, rather than based on a unit's wireless monitoring capability.”
Still, one concern is that the spectrum that the FCC has proposed for use by MBAN technology is also used by aeronautical telemetry. It has been used almost exclusively by commercial test pilots, according to the FCC.
The appointed MBAN frequency coordinator would need to “work with hospitals and MBANs manufacturers to ensure that medical telemetry does not interfere with aeronautical telemetry, such as data collected from test flights,” the ASHE said.
For device manufacturers, the proposed rule, which won't publicly be available until May 24, provides clarity about the regulations behind the development of these kinds of devices.
It also presents market opportunities for the manufacturers that would develop MBAN technology.
“MBANs provide a cost-effective way to monitor every patient in a healthcare institution, so they can provide real-time and accurate data, allowing doctors and nurses to identify life-threatening problems or events before they occur,” Genachowski said in his remarks.
He also said the FCC is considering the adoption of new rules that would permit more intensive use of spectrum for wireless medical devices
Genachowski cited studies finding that half of hospital patients are not monitored and that a monitored hospital patient has a 48% chance of surviving cardiac arrest, while unmonitored patients have only a 6% chance of survival.
The devices can “provide the best quality monitoring at the lowest possible cost,” GE Healthcare's Grubis said. “It brings our customers a new level of being able to care for their patients.”
GE Healthcare and Philips Healthcare said they have technology in development that would use the newly allocated MBAN spectrum if the proposal is approved by the FCC.
A spokesman for Philips Healthcare's patient care and clinical informatics business unit said the company is developing a respiratory monitoring sensor and plans to submit the device to the Food and Drug Administration for clearance this year.
The market for MBAN technology could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, said Anthony Jones, chief marketing officer for Philips Healthcare's patient care and clinical informatics unit.