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An Introduction to M2M and Healthcare

Meet our guest blogger: David H. Hoglund, founder of Integra Systems, a medical device and wireless consultancy and design firm. Mr. Hoglund has over 30 years of medical device and wireless experience. He’s worked with companies such as Siemens Medical Systems, Inc., Biotronik, Instromedix, Cerner, VitalCom (now a part of General Electric), Symbol Technologies (now a part of Motorola), Draeger Medical, Johnson Controls, and Andrew (now a part of CommScope).  Mr. Hoglund holds provisional and awarded patents in the M2M and wireless connectivity space. You can read more from David on his blog here.

First, let’s define M2M. Machine-to-machine, or M2M, refers to technologies that allow both wireless and wired systems to communicate with other devices. M2M uses a device, such as a sensor or meter, to capture an event such as temperature or inventory level. The event data is relayed through a network to an application (software program), that translates the data into meaningful information. For example, when inventory is low, the business owner may get a text that items need to be restocked.

Modern M2M communication has expanded beyond a one-to-one connection and has grown into a system of networks that transmits data to personal appliances. The expansion of wireless networks across the world has made it far easier for M2M communication to take place and has lessened the amount of power and time necessary for information to be communicated between machines. The ubiquitous growth of M2M and the new era of the smart phone has given rise to awareness for use of devices in the healthcare world.

In healthcare, M2M is being recognized as a valuable tool. Medical devices can provide remote diagnostics and create a better patient care experience. Medical devices can change health care in may ways, here are just three benefits of a M2M enabled medical device.

Three Benefits of a M2M Enabled Medical Device

1. Reduce risks and costs of remote home healthcare support
Risks can be reduced as the patient is taken care of in a real-time even when he or she goes home. M2M enabled devices solve the problem of decreased patient communication that occurs when a patient is remote. Costs can be reduced through a decreased need in services– a nurse may no longer need to make a daily trip to a patient’s home as the medical device can provide immediate and real time corrective actions.

2. Decreased anxiety for the patient and improved quality of care
The patient is less anxious and experiences a lower level of stress when he or she has the increased safety of real time “connectivity” in their healthcare. This improves the quality of their own individual care as well.

3. Medical devices use small amounts of bandwidth
Most medical devices use a small amount of bandwidth, even in real time patient monitoring, and are intermittent in nature for transmission purposes. So, in the medical field, the bandwidth requirements are going be nothing like data requirements of today’s smart phone.

How do these do these innovations come to fruition? In the past, when considering a M2M applications the application developer had to either build their own management platform or outsource this an outside entity. A new alternative to this is “cloud management.” Digi International has developed the first M2M ready to use cloud platform for network management, iDigi. The iDigi platform provides secure application messaging, data storage and device management. The platform is scalable and is based on high availability architecture that has been designed around redundancy and failover, making it ideal for these medical device solutions. While there’s a lot to learn about M2M and the medical device world, we hope this post sheds some light on the impact devices will make in healthcare.

You can learn more about Digi International’s healthcare solutions here. Interested in connecting a device? Sign up for the iDigi Device Cloud and connect up to 5 devices for free.

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