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Wireless Technology: Transforming the Care Delivery Model


The healthcare industry has begun to use emerging wireless technology to help make patient care an uninterrupted and round-the-clock process. This ever-increasing advancement of technology will cause a quantum leap in patient healthcare by giving critical information access to physicians on a real-time basis. Not only will the quality of care improve, but once the initial research, development, and implementation costs are absorbed, the price of healthcare will dramatically decrease for both the patient and the healthcare provider.

For a country struggling with the rising cost of care and the provision of superior care to an aging population, this new wireless technology places us on the cusp of a healthcare revolution that will expand the reach of physicians, ameliorate the quality of patient care, improve people's lives, and eventually maximize the human life span.

At its very basic level, wireless technology can provide new and innovative ways for physicians, healthcare providers, and healthcare organizations to share and disseminate information with consumers and patients. However, the applications for patients and physicians for wireless technology will go far beyond the informational and educational level.  For example, a patient with high blood pressure can have sensors embedded in a home blood pressure device; these sensors can send data wirelessly and instantaneously to healthcare practitioners who can read, analyze, and make crucial healthcare decisions without the patient having to leave home or make an office visit.

Another example might involve a physical therapist providing in-home rehab for a hip or knee replacement patient using telemedicine. The therapist can give instructions, guide a patient interactively, and receive instant feedback without having to make a home visit. Not only will costs decrease, but patient care will be more affordable, efficient, quick, and effective.

Within our current healthcare system, chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease are diagnosed episodically and treated intermittently. This consumes an enormous amount of resources. With the widespread implementation of wireless technology, the future state of our healthcare system will treat chronic diseases with continuous care, which will lower costs and dramatically improve patient outcomes.

The next generation of wireless devices are focused on a proactive care model; consumers currently have the ability to use wireless devices that help them with their diet and fitness goals. Smart devices such as FitBit use technology track distance walked, steps taken, calories burned, floors climbed, and activity duration and intensity.  The device can also monitor sleep habits and its web-based tools help keep track of weight and body mass index. This data can be used by both the consumer and physician to create plans to increase fitness levels, reduce body weight, and improve health. Another device, DigiFit, helps consumers assess their cardiovascular fitness and can provide doctors with valuable information on heart and cardiovascular health.

In the area of networking, the Qualcomm 2net platform is a truly inventive wireless healthcare solution that can capture and deliver medical device data to designated portals, and create a ubiquitous stream of health data across the continuum of patient care.

More devices entering the market will be able to record a vast array of fitness measurements, assess an extensive number of fitness, diet and health factors, and provide even more valuable data for healthcare providers. More real-time data and quick, accurate healthcare decisions will be made within shorter time parameters and with far less cost. With these components in place, we are on the verge of a revolution that will transform and recast the healthcare industry.

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