The Federal Communications Commission today voted unanimously to allow medical devices to communicate on a key radio frequency that enables “mobile body area networking,” a move highly praised by big device makers for its potential to make hospital care simpler and cheaper.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Philips (NYSE:PHG) issued a joint statement today lauding the approval, which could “revolutionize the way patients are monitored and help eliminate the restrictive cables that tether patients to hospital beds.”
The new communication channel, to be shared with aerospace manufacturers and the government, allows multiple devices to wirelessly communicate within and around the body. The devices are low-cost wearable sensors that may enable patient monitoring from anywhere, including hospitals, emergency vehicles or even at home.
“With access to special-purpose spectrum, the health care industry’s research and development efforts can go into overdrive,” Philips chief marketer Anthony Jones said in prepared remarks. “The expansion of wireless monitoring capabilities will help allow earlier clinical diagnoses, decisions and interventions, supporting the delivery of better patient care at lower costs.”
MBANS promise to free patients from the tangle of cords and wires that commonly accompany hospital care, potentially allowing better monitoring while maximizing patient comfort and reducing rates of infections related to wires and cleaning procedures.
“The FCC’s ruling is the culmination of strong collaboration between the medical industry, regulatory officials and aeronautical stakeholders,” GE Healthcare VP and chief technology officer Mike Harsh added. “This is an important inflection point, as it enables advances in miniaturized wireless sensors leveraging the latest chip design and clinical measurement technologies. MBANs could significantly enhance quality and access to patient care, while supporting reduced costs.”
The spectrum in question ranges from 2.36 GHz to 2.4 GHz, which the government currently uses to test aircraft and missiles.
Device makers who leverage monitoring software similar to that offered by apicasystems.com won another key radio radio spectrum late last year, between 413 mHz and 457 mHz, for use in Medical Micropower Networks that transmit radio signals among multiple microstimulators implanted in the body to activate and monitor nerves and muscles with electrical signals.
Such devices could help patients regain functionality and sensation in paralyzed limbs, Alfred Mann Foundation CEO David Hankin told MassDevice.com late last year.