Information technology

New medical device profile for Bluetooth wireless technology

22 November 2007

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced a Medical Device Profile for Bluetooth wireless technology at Medica in Düsseldorf last week.

A Bluetooth profile defines how different applications use Bluetooth wireless technology to set up a connection and exchange data. The Medical Devices Working Group of the Bluetooth SIG developed this profile to ensure that devices in the medical environment can transfer data between devices in a secure and well defined way via Bluetooth wireless technology.

Thanks to its elementary values such as low power, low cost, high security and robustness, Bluetooth wireless technology is ideally suited for these applications. With healthcare costs globally caught in a relentless upward spiral, the healthcare industry needs creative solutions to meet the ever-growing need for quality health services with wireless convenience, while allowing patients, insurers, and governments to keep their budgets in check.

The recently announced ultra low power addition to Bluetooth technology will further strengthen the opportunities to reduce cost size and power consumption for many small, button-cell operated health and fitness devices. This is expected to be available for general use in such devices in 2008.

The rapidly expanding health market is increasingly making use of Bluetooth wireless technology to connect devices. Most of these connections are between a computing device (eg home health station, cellular phone, telemedicine device, computer or PDA ) and one or more Bluetooth enabled devices (eg medical, health and fitness sensors such as heart rate, blood pressure, glucose, weight, and oximeters, etc).

The transmission of data takes place quickly and seamlessly such that the user need not be involved. The Bluetooth-enabled telemedicine solutions will help patients to recover or monitor their health and wellness while at home or away, potentially saving significant amounts of money by reducing in-hospital care.

For the elderly, wireless applications allow a more mobile monitoring system and less confinement to a room or a bed, thereby contributing to a better quality of life.

“For medical and health applications, data can be very sensitive; therefore, it is important to make sure the solution facilitates compliant compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other international data privacy requirements”, says Dr Mike Foley, Executive Director of the Bluetooth SIG.

“In addition, some applications require increased reliability of connectivity, timely processing of data, proper prioritization of time sensitive data for single and multi-profile applications, improved data interpretation and improved resiliency to network issues. The new Medical Device Profile ensures the medical, health and fitness industries the best wireless solutions on the market.”

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