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Wireless Patient Monitoring is Here to Stay

Last week, the health information technology industry met at HIMSS 2013 in New Orleans. My company, Zephyr Technology, exhibited its solutions as part of the Qualcomm pavilion, to demonstrate how far we have come in bringing affordable patient monitoring to hospitals and into patients’ homes.

This isn’t our first time at HIMSS and as a seasoned monitoring company we have a unique perspective on how the mHealth industry is developing. This year, the HIMSS conference stood out from previous shows in a few key ways. The companies participating and the products displayed have grown and solutions are becoming more accepted by the medical community. Over the last 12 months, “health information” has moved from a concept into real products that can be touched, compared, measured and deployed to provide better health outcomes, lower costs and improve patient safety.

What’s next? At Zephyr, we’ve developed wearable, wireless physiological monitoring systems for over a decade to the military and professional sports teams. Their demands for reliability and accuracy have shaped our products into robust, wearable and wireless patient monitoring systems and we are excited to see that the medical profession is beginning to ask for the same solutions to aid in the delivery of care.

We are beginning to see medical monitoring requirements, currently deployed in hospitals, being applied to many patients who are not currently monitored within general hospital wards, skilled nursing facilities and patients’ homes. For more traditional medical device companies, this requires a shift in thinking and product design. Companies like Qualcomm and Zephyr, with deep experience in wireless or wearable consumer products, have long recognized the potential benefits of keeping patients monitored post-discharge—benefits such as the potential to reduce re-admission rates, its associated costs and the emotional burden to the patient and families. Zephyr is further exploring these benefits as a 2net Ecosystem collaborator. The 2net Platform is a cloud-based system designed to be universally-interoperable with different medical devices and applications, enabling end-to-end wireless connectivity while allowing medical device users and their physicians or caregivers to easily access biometric data.

With this vision in mind, Zephyr and Qualcomm, through its Wireless Reach initiative, have also been working together on a project called Care Beyond Walls & Wires, which focuses on congestive heart failure and related conditions. This project is being conducted with Flagstaff Medical Center in Arizona with Verizon Wireless and the National Institutes of Health. Preliminary results have been very promising in relation to a reduction in the amount of days a patient is in the hospital as well as an increase in the interval days between emergency department visits.

Today, the market has matured passed the time where start-up companies are simply entering this market with clever ideas and no operational experience. We’ve moved beyond PowerPoint presentations to solutions that are field-tested, deployment ready and FDA approved. This is a hallmark of a growing industry and a market that, we hope, will touch patients around the world. For them, products like our wearable wireless monitors can mean greater safety, mobility and independence. With updates on a patient’s heart rate, respiration rate, posture and activity and a comprehensive alerting package, caregivers can focus their attention on most critical patients knowing that everyone else is well-monitored. Hospitals can deploy these monitoring solutions to generate a full clinical picture of each patient with an aim at decreasing the need for re-admission and the prevention of what are called “never events” such as falls and bed sores and, with the ability to monitor patients remotely, families can rest easy knowing that they are getting the best clinical care.

We were more excited than ever to share our experience with other leaders at HIMSS in patient monitoring and home tele-health and demonstrate what a comprehensive patient monitoring system can mean for people everywhere.

I invite you to see for yourself what’s possible.

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