Integrating mobility into healthcare
I have recently read about the launch of Intel’s new tele-healthcare device, the Health Guide PHS6000 and that made me think about the new posibilities that are emerging fast and that it seems like, finally, several technologies are becoming mature to the point of being able to transform the concept of healthcare.
Intel’s device is the result of a continuous effort from the company in this area, after having collaborated with Motion Computing in developing the C5 Mobile Clinical Assistant, that I also mentioned here.
Another sign of this new tendency is the recent release of the Panasonic Toughbook H1, a device with similar specs to the C5. Both of them have been specifically designed for hospital and clinical use, having specifications like MIL-STD-810F for withstanding three foot drops and IP54 rated for moisture and dust, and being able to be used in docking stations, wall mounted or even in mobile carts.
One of the interesting characteristics of these devices is the broad connectivity options. Some of them are: WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G, RFID, with optional GPS and barcode scanner plus a web camera. All of these aspects open a wide range of possibilities that we will probably start to see, like vitals capture and electronic medical records.Video-conferencing technologies have also matured a lot and there are currently several integral solutions like Spontania Unified Collaboration (from Dialcom), Webex (from Cisco) or Microsoft Unified Communications that will be able to allow patients to interact with health assistants in a much easy an cost-effective way.
And the last element of the puzzle, but definitely not the least, is mobility, which also contributes to generating new possibilities. The potential of mobile technologies enable a whole new range of healthcare services by offering a combination of remote and personalized customer service solutions for patients who require assistance and personalized follow-up.
With open devices like the T-Mobile G1, we will start to see healthcare uses like the mobile version of Intel’s Health Guide or the Open Health Assistant project. Based on the patient / health assistant roles, Open Health Assistant provides several mobile health-care services, ranging from treatment controlling tools, health diaries, personalized follow-up forms, reminders, socio-sanitary services location, groups and individual patient control while on the go, separation and perimeter alerts, etc. On the other side, Open Health Assistant allows for the integration of several biomedical sensors using BAN (Body Area Network) or PAN (Personal Area Network) communications for on-line monitoring of patients with diverse pathologies.
To sum up, all these new technologies are very promising in the transformation of the concept of health services. Basically, they can help us achieve that:
- Patients remain at home and have a more independent life.
- Patients and clinicians work together to achieve the best outcomes.
- Patients are viewed in their totality, including their health status, as well as their social network, and their individual capabilities and preferences.
And of course, on the economic side, a great deal of cost savings can also be achieved.
As all these solutions continue to evolve, we will see if these telehealth advances will allow people to harness the true power of information, turning that information into action and better health outcomes.