By Eric B. Abbott, Director, Product Management, ExteNet Systems, Inc.

Technology innovation, while embraced by many industries, is cautiously measured in others. The healthcare industry is a prime example of taking a more measured approach where new device deployments are approached with some hesitation and carefully evaluated to meet the Food and Drug Administration* (FDA) requirements. Let’s face it; no one wants to be human guinea pig in the operating room.

The same hesitations apply when determining how medical appliances and applications will connect and communicate with one another. From glucometers, to scales, to blood pressure monitors, Wi-Fi has served as the de facto standard for medical device connectivity. However, this is now beginning to change as new wireless connectivity solutions are needed to support the growing numbers of sensor and IoT-based devices. Considering a majority of medical data transactions now occur over wireless connections, Wi-Fi solutions are struggling to keep up with the spectrum efficiencies needed to accommodate increased data transfers.

To address the spectrum shortcomings and potential bottlenecks, mobile cellular technologies in the unlicensed spectrum are being considered as possible alternatives to Wi-Fi in the healthcare field. Healthcare administrators and IT specialists are currently exploring how unlicensed radio connectivity solutions could prove to be more efficient, while also enhancing security, privacy and QoS to align with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s** (HIPAA) stringent requirements.

This is where MulteFire comes into play as it offers the best of both worlds in terms of LTE’s spectrum efficiencies and Wi-Fi’s ease of deployment. Ultimately, MulteFire could help to improve the overall experience and operational capabilities in the healthcare industry that a siloed Wi-Fi deployment cannot.

While MulteFire’s standards-based technology promotes interoperability and presents new network opportunities, there is a great deal of work to do before this technology debuts in a clinic or hospital. As with any new technology, especially one that would connect heart monitors and other life-support devices, the challenges lie within the network design that requires 24/7 uptime.

When you combine the challenge of maintaining a persistent connection with the privacy and security requirements related to patients’ health information, any change to the current network infrastructure will be heavily scrutinized. Nonetheless, given the limitations with traditional Wi-Fi connections and the recent advancements in the unlicensed spectrum (i.e. MulteFire), I believe a shift in network connectivity in the healthcare setting is imminent.

To learn more about MulteFire technology and its potential to broaden the mobile cellular network into new markets, visit: https://www.mfa-tech.org/faq/.

* The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices.

**HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information.

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-7-52-30-amEric B. Abbott, Director, Product Management, ExteNet Systems, Inc.

Eric Abbott is the Director of Product Management and Strategy at ExteNet Systems, Inc.  Mr. Abbott is a visionary professional with 15+ years of progressive experience delivering market relevant solutions in healthcare, IT services, and telecommunications.  His professional experience includes Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial companies focused on technology solutions in business and healthcare.  He is also Adjunct Faculty at Northwestern University, teaching Consumer eHealth, Medical Health Informatics, and Medical Technology Acquisition in the Medical Health Informatics Graduate Program.  He holds Masters of Science degrees in Medical Health Informatics, Business Administration, and Engineering, and is a graduate of Northwestern University, Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and University of Toronto.  He is also a licensed Professional Engineer.