Remote Health Monitoring Using Mobile Phones

Mobile Phones, the Future of Health Monitoring
The rise in number of chronically ill people has resulted in a massive burden on the long-term care industry to a point where these facilities will no longer become sustainable. Many of these patients do not necessarily need round-the-clock care but just round the clock monitoring and instead can live at home while being monitored using a remote monitoring system. The most popular of these systems is known as telemedicine, which is fixed and as a result restricts the patients movement.

Using mobile phones to monitor patients and send information would be able to improve these patients mobility as well as increase the number of applications for remote health monitoring while reducing the cost. The way it works is portable sensors are attached to the patients body and begin continuously collecting information pertinent to the patients condition. Using a short-range link such as Bluetooth, the information (i.e., vitals) is sent from the sensors to the corresponding application on the smart phone. From there depending on the type of phone, the data is stored on a web host and possibly also locally on the device. Then the phone sends the information off to the healthcare provider as well as send sample data or even allow doctors to request the patients current data. To improve the convenience of this technology, mobile web services are used. This is due to there being many different applications in the medical sector that offer a wide range of services to patients so by using mobile web services, the patient is able to benefit from many of these applications and control the way their data is being accessed and used.

As previously mentioned, using mobile phones for remote health monitoring can have a whole host of new applications and options. A few applications for this technology include monitoring Alzheimer patients, the elderly who are a fall risk, high-risk pregnancies, tracking blood sugar/administering insulin to diabetics and even allowing doctors to monitor victims in disaster situations. As well as all of these uses, the portability and versatility of this technology will allow doctors to give real time medical instruction to their patients remotely, track environmental context and factors (temperature etc.).

This technology while seeming very promising, does have some issues that need to be worked out before it can be widely implemented. The largest of these issues is privacy. It is well known that personal information privacy and security has been a low priority for service providers so why would a patient want their medical information sent using their phone if it is not necessarily secure. Fortunately, the EU has laid out legislation to force service providers to ensure the security of personal information.