The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently adopted new rules that will allocate spectrum space to serve Medical Body Area Network (MBAN) devices.
MBANs consist of small, low-powered sensors on the body that capture clinical information, such as temperature and respiratory function. These sensors free patients from a set of wires that otherwise would anchor them to their hospital beds.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says MBANs will improve patient care and increase patient mobility while lowering costs and encouraging medical intervention. "The real game changer for MBAN technology can be health monitoring at home," he adds. ASHE officials note that MBANs can monitor more patient data than traditional wireless medical telemetry systems. MBAN technology is projected to be less costly than monitoring through traditional wireless telemetry, which could make wireless monitoring available to more patients.
While many in the health care industry are excited about the potential of MBANs, there is work to be done to ensure that the monitoring system is implemented correctly. Because MBANs will be a secondary user of the spectrum and aeronautical telemetry will be the primary user, selection of an MBAN frequency coordinator will be especially important. The frequency coordinator or coordinators will make sure medical telemetry does not interfere with aeronautical telemetry, such as data collected from test flights. The coordinator, in consultation with the coordinator for aeronautical mobile telemetry, will be responsible for issuing "keys" that enable an MBAN system to operate in the sensitive 2360-2390 MHz band.
The FCC has not yet assigned a frequency coordinator for MBANs, but plans to seek further comment on whether a single MBAN coordinator or multiple MBAN coordinators should be selected, and on the criteria and procedures for selection. The FCC has set a target date of June 2013 for selecting the MBAN frequency coordinator or coordinators.
In 2001, the FCC appointed ASHE as the frequency coordinator for the Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS), which currently allows hospitals to wirelessly monitor patient vital signs. ASHE coordinates WMTS frequencies for hospitals, and all transmitters operating in WMTS bands must be registered with ASHE to ensure operation without interference.
ASHE is prepared to seek selection as the MBAN coordinator, given its WMTS experience and relationship with hospitals and other health care facilities. ASHE Executive Director Dale Woodin, CHFM, FASHE, says careful coordination of medical telemetry is vitally important because hospitals rely on real-time patient monitoring. Any problem with coordination could lead to disruptions in that information. "The data reliability needs to be rock solid," Woodin says. "With cell phones you sometimes get dropped calls. You can't have dropped data here."
This month's column was written by Deanna Martin, ASHE's senior communications specialist.
ASHE launches news page and YouTube channel
ASHE has launched a news page on its website as well as a YouTube channel featuring videos on code compliance issues, ASHE initiatives and education programs.
The news page, which can be accessed at www.ashe.org/ashenews, compiles the news reported by ASHE as well as press releases and advocacy alerts. The YouTube channel, which is at www.youtube.com/asheaha, includes videos of experts in the field answering questions on regulations and speaking on topics such as smoke and fire barrier penetration, the differences between various editions of codes and the quest for unified codes.
Some videos answer and explain "Ask ASHE" questions submitted by members, and other videos discuss ASHE conferences.
Conference to focus on change
The ASHE 49th Annual Conference & Technical Exhibition, being held July 15-18 in San Antonio, will focus on dealing with and managing through change. Sessions will cover topics like change management and transitions; compliance strategies; facility management fundamentals; management development; operational excellence; planning, design and construction; and strategic leadership. For more, go to www.asheannual.org.