Airborne modules are an effective method to integrate old machines, which do not have wireless communication capability, with modern wireless healthcare system. The interface modules allow the old machines last longer. Airborne modules help these machines have wireless communication, reduce wiring and make it compatible with modern network. Quatech Airborne and AirborneDirect support 802.11b/g are: Airborne(TM) 802.11b/g embedded Wireless Device Server Module, Airborne(TM) 802.11b/g embedded Wireless Ethernet Bridge Module, AirborneDirect(TM) 802.11b/g external Wireless Device Server, and AirborneDirect(TM) 802.11b/g external Wireless Ethernet Bridge
Although wireless medical applications have been successfully implemented not only in research but in practice as well, there are still many challenges for developers and researchers. Potential of wireless technology in medical domain can not be exploited completely when mentioned challenges are not solved, which required a long term effort of researchers and investors.
In this survey paper we discussed advantages of wireless medical devices and challenges involved in this technology. We present deeply wireless technologies used in medical recently. We have also identified standards being used in wireless medical applications and location of wireless network in a healthcare system. We identified innovative medical applications of wireless networks developed or being developed in research, projects and research groups on wireless medical application, and commercial products.
With the advancement of wireless technology, wireless devices can be used to reduce medical errors, increase medical care quality, improve the efficiency of caregivers, lessen the caregiver-lacking situation, and improve the comfort of patients. Although the technology has found ways into various fields, medical domain has very strict quality and assurance requirements, which causes many challenges that are faced when implementing and operating the systems. The following part of the paper will be reserved to identify potentials and challenges of healthcare system using wireless technology.
ASTM issued ASTM F1220-95(2006), a standard guide for emergency medical services system (EMSS) . The standard and its sub-standards provide guide for telecommunication practices, required performance standards to support all of the functions of community EMSS. In addition, the standards identify state planning goals and objectives for EMSS communications. The standards can be used for designing, integrating, evaluating and coordinating telecommunications resources in order to guarantee providing needed functions of EMSS systems.
Some ASTM standards used in wireless medical system:
The first and oldest wireless technology used in medical application is wireless local area network (WLAN). The standards of WLAN was first introduced in 1997, namely IEEE 802.11. The capacities of IEEE 802.11 standards evolved from 1- 2Mbps in the initial version to 54Mbps in IEEE 802.11a and IEEE 802.11b. IEEE 802.11a has a range of 100 feet and 802.11b has coverage of 350feet outdoors and 150 feet indoor. After the introducing of 802.11a and 802.11b, WiFi alliance formed and started its work certifying wireless based devices. Sine that time, 802.11 has been developed much further. Many extensions of 802.11 were released, including 802.11g, added in 2003 with capacities of 54Mbps transmission working on 2.4GHz band at range of 350ft outdoors and 150 feet indoors; 802.11n with higher throughput of up to 200Mbps; 802.11i, added in 2004 with enhanced security; and 802.11s added for Mesh Network.
Nowadays, WLAN are provided in almost US hospitals. By using this transmission media, communication between departments within hospitals, from hospital to hospital can be made on the fly. Patient’s data is easily transferred around the hospital. WLAN are widely used in telemedicine, healthcare data transmission, and many other applications which will be discussed in the later sections.
Recently, interest in wireless systems for medical applications has been rapidly increasing. With a number of advantages over wired alternatives, including: ease of use, reduced risk of infection, reduced risk of failure, reduce patient discomfort, enhance mobility and low cost of care delivery, wireless applications bring forth exciting possibilities for new applications in medical market.
Portable devices such as heart rate monitors, pulse oximeters, spirometers and blood pressure monitors are essential instruments in intensive care. Traditionally, the sensors for these instruments are attached to the patient by wires; and the patient sequentially becomes bed-bound. In addition, whenever patient needs to be moved, all monitoring device has to be disconnected and then reconnected later. Nowadays, all of these time-consuming jobs could be terminated and patients could be liberated from instrumentation and bed by wireless technology. Integrated wireless technology, these wireless devices could communicate with a gateway that connects to the medical center’s network and transmits data to health data stores for monitoring, control, or evaluating in real time or offline after storage.
Continuous and pervasive medical monitoring is now available with the present of wireless healthcare systems and telemedicine services. In emergency situations, real-time health parameter is crucial. According to the American Heart Association, treatment of a patient experiencing ventricular fibrillation within the first 12 minutes of cardiac arrest brings a survival rate of 48%-75%. The survival rate drops to 2%-4% after 12 minutes have gone . With wireless continuous medical monitoring systems, patients’ information such as blood pressure, heart rate, and electrocardiogram can be sent instantly to specialized medical centers to store and process properly. Medical emergencies can be detected sooner and proper treatment can be applied timely. Health care effectiveness in several situations is improved significantly with the present of wireless communication technologies.
Wireless technology could be the best solution for mass emergency situations like natural or human-included disasters and military conflict where patients’ records such as previous medication history, identification and other vital information are necessary. With the assistant of hand held devices in which wireless network integrated, the amount of time the doctors need to identify the problem, trace back the medication history of the patient and consult fellow doctors will be reduced significantly. Moreover, databases of patients that can be built up by continuous medical monitoring will be accessed and updated easily. As a result, the amount of paper works required and the duplication of patient record will be dropped down.
With all of these potentials, wireless systems for medical application are now not only focused by healthcare provider and the government but also by researches and industry. Significant academic and corporate resources are being directed towards researching and development of novel wireless healthcare systems. Several innovative applications based on this technology are developed or being developed in research. In this paper, we will discuss several of these projects, highlighting their architectures and implementation.
This paper is organized as follows: We will briefly discuss the base wireless technologies which current applications are using. We will discuss benefit of wireless healthcare system in detail. After a brief discussion of standards being used applications and location of wireless network in a healthcare system, we will identify projects and research groups on wireless medical application, and commercial products.
The rapid growth of the technologies extends the potential for exploitation of wireless medical application market. Nowadays, thanks to the large-scale wireless network and mobile computing solutions, such as cellular 3G and beyond, WiFi mesh and WiMAX, caregivers can access into vital information anywhere and at any time within the healthcare networks. The present of pervasive computing, consisting of RFID, Bluetooth, ZigBee and wireless sensor network gives innovative medium for data transmission for medical applications. In this section of the paper, we will highlight current uses of various wireless communications in healthcare domain.
Based on the IEEE 802.16 standards, so-called WirelessMAN standards, WiMAX is created by the WiMAX Forum, which has strong-security wireless data transmission over long distance, up to 50km, with high data rate, up to 70 Mbps, and high mobile capability, up to 150km/hour. The standard is the incorporation of several advanced radio transmission technologies such as adaptive modulation and coding (AMC), adaptive forward error correction (FEC), well defined quality of service (QoS) framework and orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (ODFM). Another standard which is being designed specifically for MBWA services, a so-called IEEE 802.20 or MobileFi, has the wider range and higher mobility capability in comparison with WiMAX. IEEE 802.20 will use the licensed bands below 3.5 GHz and provide data transmission speed over 10Mb/s for user speeds up to 250 km/h.
With advantages in mobility, transmission speed, QoS and security, WiMAX technology is an excellent choice for telemedicine service providers in both fixed and mobile environments . Transmission delay for high quality images such as ultrasound and radiology images can be reduced significantly with high-bandwidth transmission. Many monitoring and diagnostic processes can be executed simultaneously with the present of large network capability. Strong QoS increase the reliability and efficiency of data transmission. As an example, in prehospital management system in an ambulance, diagnostic images could be transmitted from the ambulance to the hospital and doctors can start diagnosing while patient are on the way to the hospital.
In practical and researching domain, WiMAX has various deployment scenarios. On a large scale, WiMAX networks can be established and operated by a regional health authority to provide telemedicine services among regional clinics, hospitals and drugstores. On a smaller scale, such as hospital-size area, WiMAX networks can be used to provide an intranet for the hospital. In replacement of several WLAN access points, only a few WiMAX base stations can cover the whole hospital. This will not only trim down the deployment cost significantly but also enhance the quality of the network. As mentioned above, the other application of WiMAX-based network is prehospital management service. The number of application of WiMAX is rapidly increased and some other applications of WiMAX will be discussed in the later sections of the paper.