Home Healthcare Wi-Fi Adoption Growth at 60%

Healthcare Wi-Fi Adoption Growth at 60%

Earlier this month, we looked at what the real-time Web meant for your health. A major trend we discussed in the medical field was real-time monitoring of patients, a technology that relies on professionals in the field being equipped with smartphones and other mobile technology.

A report this week from ABI Research tells us that the “uptake of Wi-Fi within healthcare has grown at more than 60% over the past 12 months in both wireless local area network and Wi-Fi RTLS (Real-Time Locations Systems) deployments” and the trend only looks to continue.

“Wi-Fi adoption has helped overcome initial concerns about complexity and reliability of wireless within healthcare,” said ABI Research principal analyst Jonathan Collins in the company’s release. “The growing number of wireless technologies and wireless applications being developed, piloted and deployed within healthcare further underline the level of interest in using wireless to improve the flexibility and efficiency of healthcare services around the world.”

According to the report, this type of double-digit growth is expected to continue, and significant growth has also been seen for cellular M2M and wearable wireless sensors, such as the technology offered by AirStrip Technologies, which offers a band-aid type device that beams real-time patient information to doctors’ smartphones.

We asked Collins how approval from organizations like the Food and Drug Administration or the Federal Communications Commission might come into play when it comes to doctors using wireless devices and Wi-Fi instead of the usual pagers:

FDA approval is only really an issue where there are devices being brought into the system that haven’t been FDA approved before and that would be difficult to FDA certify and regulate. The main device this problems refer to are mobile handsets. As they are extended to support medical applications there is certainly concern over where FDA regulation might lie. Other than that with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth FDA approval isn’t really a problem. There is a proposal for rule making at the FCC at present looking setting aside a swathe of spectrum from healthcare body sensors but use of 2.4Ghz by Bluetooth or Wi-Fi or other technologies in that band can be an issue for those deploying the system but not for the FDA.

So while there may be some hurdles left for a complete move to wireless monitoring over smartphones and other mobile devices, it looks like healthcare is still making moves in that direction.

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