Friday, October 8, 2010

MHealth-Mobile Health, Body Area Networks (BANs)-How to SMS from your vital organs

MHealth, or Mobile Health, is not a new area of mobile development but, since it first gained prominence five years ago, is making some significant strides in being adopted to improve health monitoring around the world.

Today, the New Scientist, reported how Dutch research company IMEC demonstrated a new type of Body Area Network (BAN) that allows a heart monitor to send ECG information wirelessly to a patients' mobile device (so that they can then be forwarded to doctors).

You can see a model of a BAN below (courtesy of Md.Asdaque Hussain and Kyung Sup Kwak):

The interesting development is that the software for the BAN runs on an Android operating system, proof of greater integration between medical sensors and machines and mobile devices.  Also interesting is the fact that IMEC ditched Bluetooth for a different communications standard (my personal view on Bluetooth remains that it can be great for tethering devices but not very useful for pretty much anything else).

As developments such as this move MHealth forward, there are great opportunities remaining for mobile developers to provide apps that can deliver medical data in a secure and standardised format to medical professionals. Key challenges to address will be power usage (to extend the time range of medical data transmissions) and convicing patients to adopt their mobile device as an everyday  tool for monitoring their health.