Wireless Sensor Networks for Healthcare
San Diego, CA (PRWEB) August 6, 2008
Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) solutions are gearing up to save the healthcare industry $25 billion in 2012 by reducing hospitalizations and extending independent living for seniors, according to a recent study by ON World.
"With a clear return on investment and high average revenue per user, healthcare is one of the most funded research areas for WSN, says Mareca Hatler, ON World's director of research. "There are literally dozens of healthcare WSN "killer apps" for outpatient monitoring, chronic disease management, and elderly care."
In 2007, life-saving systems such as ambulatory cardiac monitoring made up the lion's share of the revenues. However, over the next decade the fastest growing WSN markets will be preventive health and wellness solutions. Governments and industry are working together and investing in technologies such as WSN to address the global $4 trillion dollar healthcare market that is expected to double over the next decade.
Two of the most promising healthcare WSN solution areas are the following:
Ambient Assisted Living:
Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) systems enable the elderly to stay independent as long as possible. Additional benefits are that these systems will save millions of dollars annually by avoiding the high cost of institutional care and saving home care workers from unnecessary visits and high gas bills.
"Smart home" Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) technologies such as ZigBee, Z-Wave, and ultra low power WiFi are essential elements of AAL by enabling discreet battery powered sensors to be placed throughout the home. Companies that are currently offering wireless sensor based AAL systems and/or services include CMI (SimplyHome), Grand Care, HealthSense, Living Independently (QuietCare), and Tunstall.
Body Sensor Networks:
Body Sensor Networks (BSNs) consist of wearable or implantable wireless sensors for monitoring vital signs such as heart rate, heart electrical activity (ECG), blood glucose monitoring, and blood oxygen levels. BSNs have the potential to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations as well as improving the rates of recovery and reducing post-operative morbidity. There are dozens of BSN innovations underway by research organizations and commercial companies worldwide that are striving to make these systems more accurate, user-friendly, and comfortable.
Today, wireless BSN systems are available for cardiac monitoring from BioWatch, CardioNet, LifeSync, LifeWatch. In addition, companies such as Alive Technologies, Abbott, Dexcom, LifeScan, Medtronic, and Nonin offer wireless BSN products for diabetes and other chronic disease management applications. Bluetooth has the most support for BSNs with its recently completed Bluetooth Health Device Profile (HDP) and upcoming Bluetooth low energy protocol.
Pervasive Computing for Healthcare:
The parallel advances of Ambient Assisted Living and Body Sensor Networking has presented the need for advanced middleware software and new standards to provide seamless computing for these heterogeneous systems. For example, a typical home health system may consist of a WiFi home data network, ZigBee or Z-Wave for ambient wireless sensing systems, and Bluetooth or ANT for vital sign monitors. Future at-home health networks will also need to integrate multiple care givers and healthcare practitioners. Organizations and research initiatives that are driving healthcare innovations and standards include CAST, EU's Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme, and the Continua Health Alliance.
ON World's recently published report, "Wireless Sensor Networks for Healthcare," is based 155 interviews with healthcare organizations, vendors, suppliers, and industry experts. It provides in-depth analysis on the drivers, threats, and opportunities for wireless sensor networking for hospitals, institutional care, and at-home health. The report features five year market size forecasts, coverage of over 43 leading competitors, and several performance comparisons of ANT, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave, and WiFi using ON World's proprietary software tool, the wsnSimulator™.
For more information, go to: http://onworld.com/healthcare
About ON World:
ON World Inc. is the leader in emerging wireless research. Our market intelligence and information services are sold to Fortune 1000 companies, service providers, venture capitalists, and startups worldwide. Website: http://www.onworld.com.
Mary E. Purvis
Email: purvis @ onworld.com