At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sprint and remote-monitoring device manufacturer Ideal Life are exhibiting a cellular device called the Pod to help consumers manage chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension remotely at home.
The Pod uses machine-to-machine (M2M) technology to allow patients to transmit vital data from one mobile device to another. On one end could be a vital sign sensor in a Bluetooth monitoring device and the other a communications gateway.
"Wireless M2M solutions present an opportunity to streamline health care and provide greater access to critical patient information at significantly less cost and effort," said Wayne Ward, vice president of Sprint's Emerging Solutions Group, in a statement. "The potential to improve patient wellness and physician efficiency in an on-demand setting is just one example of how connected devices are fundamentally changing every aspect of the way we work and live."
Ideal Life also offers a wired Pod that connects to a customer's telephone line.
The Pod will provide real-time data exchange between individuals and medical professionals over Sprint's cellular network. Patients can store their medical data on Ideal Life's cloud platform. There, the data will be converted into a format that physicians or caregivers can access, Gary Rurup, a business development and portfolio manager for Sprint's Emerging Solutions Group, told eWEEK.
The benefit of remote M2M health devices is for physicians to monitor a patient's health while allowing the patient to maintain a normal lifestyle, said Rurup.
Bluetooth technology enables consumers to store scales and medical equipment out of sight, making the equipment less unsightly. "It doesn't limit them or make them have an unpleasant feeling, or a home that looks like it's in disarray because they have all this equipment sitting in their living room," Rurup explained.
Sprint and Ideal Life announced the product on Jan. 5 and demonstrated it at CES in Las Vegas Jan. 10-13.
The Pod will instantly connect to Sprint's network when consumers buy the device so they don't have to buy a separate wireless contract with the carrier, said Rurup.
It will automatically synchronize with Ideal Life's wireless monitoring products. Ideal Life devices that connect with the Pod include the Gluco-Manager blood glucose meter, BP Manager blood pressure monitor and Body-Manager body weight scale.
Using M2M remote-monitoring technology could lead to less hospital readmissions, as doctors maintain a closer eye on patients' vital data, Rurup suggested.
Sprint and Ideal Life are in discussions with hospitals on distribution models and may offer the Pod to patients when they leave a hospital. The device will be available in "the near future," said Rurup.
Remote monitoring with devices such as the Pod could also reduce white coat syndrome, in which readings taken in a doctor's office are affected by patient nerves. Regular data samples in a patient's home could provide more accurate, complete data to physicians, said Rurup.
In October 2010, Sprint and Ideal Life announced a similar collaboration involving wireless health kiosks. The kiosks run on Sprint's network and can be placed in locations such as libraries, schools, doctors' offices and assisted living facilities. The kiosk differs from the Pod in that multiple users share the kiosk, Rurup noted.
A recent white paper by research firm Frost & Sullivan suggested that the health care industry will need to support diverse types of mobile devices, including M2M, smartphones, tablets and push-to-talk products.
Qualcomm is also making a push into M2M with the launch of a new subsidiary called Qualcomm Life and its 2net cloud platform, which will allow patients to submit biometric data to physicians and caregivers.