FCC backs move allocating wireless spectrum for MBANS
The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to allocate wireless spectrum for medical body area networks, a new type of wireless medical device that would reduce the number of wires tethering a patient to a hospital bed and increase the role of patient monitoring at home. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a news conference a week earlier that the agency was likely to approve the allocation of the spectrum for medical body area networks, or MBANS (May 21, p. 6). MBANS employ wireless sensors that are placed on a patient’s body and capture clinical information, which is wirelessly transmitted to a nearby “hub” device and then forwarded on to a patient monitoring system. Allocating protected spectrum for these types of devices is expected to limit interference from other sources, such as a Wi-fi network, and allow hospitals and other healthcare providers to increase the number of patients who are monitored in a hospital, ease patient transport, better control infections and encourage patient mobility. GE Healthcare first petitioned the FCC to allocate spectrum for MBANS in 2007. Philips Healthcare, Texas Instruments and the American Society for Healthcare Engineering later joined GE Healthcare’s effort to have the FCC set aside spectrum. Philips Healthcare is also developing MBAN technology. “This is an important inflection point, as it enables advances in miniaturized wireless sensors leveraging the latest chip design and clinical measurement technologies,” Michael Harsh, GE Healthcare’s vice president and chief technology officer, said in a news release after the FCC voted to approve the order.
MBANS use sensors placed on a patient’s body to capture clinical data, which is wirelessly transmitted to a hub.