Often when we think of mobile Health we focus on mobile as in cellular devices however there is a great deal innovation taking place in other areas of this market that will have impact beyond the iPhone. Bluetooth is one of these technologies that is a rather silent but potentially huge game changer.
When most people think of Bluetooth, they think of headsets for their mobiles however this technology can be adapted for a number of uses in Healthcare. Basically take any two devices in relatively close proximity that do, could or should exchange information and Bluetooth can provide the solution.
A brief walk through any ward in any hospital around the world would be all that is required to complete a business case for evaluation or adoption. Take note of all of the hardwired devices and imagine the benefit of removing the tangle of integrated wires from the environment; then consider the medical and other equipment that could transmit patient data directly to a nursing station, a handheld or even an EHR without all the hassles, expense and power requirements of WiFi. It’s probably a good size list.
There have been limits to the Bluetooth technology that have made it’s integration into Healthcare technology somewhat limited to date, namely battery life. The average mobile headset can last a day or maybe two on standby but drains very quickly when in active use. A four hour charge just won’t work for for a nurse on a 12 hour shift so overcoming this hurdle seems to be the key to the technologies future success.
Enter Bluetook 4. iMedicalApps has a great article on the future of this technology which outlines why Bluetooth 4 is going to be a game changer for healthcare and one of the key components is a set of standards that will see battery charges last for weeks or possibly months.