These are words you never hear. Unfortunately, it seems the older someone gets, the more frequent the visits are. Wouldn’t it be nice if routine checks of vital signs and other electronically monitored conditions could be done from the comfort of home? For years, some medical device manufacturers have created ways to monitor products like pacemakers remotely (via telephone lines) but these systems were often very unique, expensive and difficult to configure, deploy and use.
Telemedicine is a rapidly advancing science and on the horizon are medical device aggregators for in-home use that are standards-based. They promise to be easy to install and use, while also able to communicate with a wide variety of diagnostic medical equipment. They leverage communications standards like Zigbee, Bluetooth and wireless. From a software perspective, they will rely on emerging standards such as IEEE11073. The Continua Health Alliance is an interesting organization which is promoting these goals: http://www.continuaalliance.org/
Of course, still to be solved is how this equipment will be paid for and who will be doing the monitoring, diagnostics and consultation for all of this incoming information. We will see how that all sorts out in the future, but the promises of telemedicine are very compelling.
A future with fewer trips to the doctor sounds good, doesn’t it?