Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/08/09/wireless_heart/
Wireless monitoring saves lives - study
In those already suffering from heart disease
Wireless monitoring of those suffering from a heart condition can save 50 lives per 1,000 patients, assuming all that radio interference doesn't give them cancer, a study has found.
The figures come from systematic review of 25 studies looking at the levels of hospital re-admissions and fatalities following chronic heart failure. The study was organised under the Cochrane Collaboration, with the intention of establishing whether all the wireless technology being used to monitor patients helps. And it does, just not very much.
Compared to no monitoring at all the study found that wireless tech can help a lot, but when compared to structured phone support (a human phones up the patient to talk about their health) the advantages of wireless technology are within statistical error. They may also be more expensive, for the moment at least.
The wireless industry is going through a late-age crisis at the moment - as the executives in the business get older their attentions focus, inevitably, on health and fitness and how their technology can help. "Wellness" is supposed to be the next big thing in wireless, with Bluetooth's latest incarnation (Bluetooth Low Energy) aimed squarely at that market and at least one annual conference now focused on how one can wirelessly connect patients to monitoring equipment.
So it makes sense to take a careful look at whether the technology actually helps. It would appear that it does, as the study concludes: "Structured telephone support and telemonitoring are effective in reducing the risk of all-cause mortality and [heart-condition]-related hospitalisations ... they improve quality of life, reduce costs, and evidence-based prescribing."
The time will no doubt come when our Bluetooth wrist watches are chastising us for failing to walk to work and our toothbrush tells us we've been eating too many sweets, but at least we'll know that it's all for our own good. ®