Only 50,000 to 70,000 patients in the United States are remotely monitored, Chuck Parker, executive director of the Continua Health Alliance, told the New York Times in a recent interview. Parker states that one reason adoption is still modest is a lack of financial incentives for some of the big players in health. Heart patients that can be monitored remotely at home are far less lucrative than those occupying a hospital bed. Parker told the Times that “some [hospitals] fear about the financial implications” for their facility’s own operations.
Still, the wireless remote monitoring devices are slimming so much that they are approaching near weightlessness.
“Suppose that all of a convalescent patient’s electrode patches were consolidated into a single, nearly invisible and weightless version — as thin as a temporary, press-on tattoo. And suppose that a tiny radio transmitter eliminated the need for any wires tethering the patient to monitoring machines,” the NY Times writes.
A prototype of such a device is currently under development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Researchers there are developing an ultra thin sensor that weighs just three-thousandths of an ounce. This technology could be utilized inside the body and on the skin. The journal Science published research on the sensor last month.
John A. Rogers, an engineering professor and a 2009 MacArthur Fellow, is leading the team at the University of Illinois. Rogers also co-founded MC10, an electronics company based in a Cambridge, MA that has plans to release a commercial version of the sensor in 2013.
The rest of the New York Times article offers a compelling overview of the wireless health space, including whether a lack of financial incentives is one of the biggest challenges facing wireless health. Read more here.