Imagine you are a physician and have a patient with a heart condition. The patient is currently at a friend’s house and is experiencing issues. Your Android phone alerts you of the potential problem. You open the alert and are able to see in real-time your patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels and other vital statistics that will help you determine next steps. You decide that your patient is in distress and send for an ambulance with the touch of a button and immediately call your patient. Your patient’s location is also known because of the GPS in their smartphone.
This scenario is quickly becoming a reality with a recent development in technology: Bluetooth Health Data Profile (HDP). Bluetooth HDP is a new layer on top of the Bluetooth protocol stack that specifies a standard set of instructions for medical devices. The Bluetooth HDP device securely connects and transmits data to a smartphone or other receiver. The data can then be transmitted to a central health management application used by the physicians, nurses, home care providers, etc.
It is true there are thousands of medical devices that are currently Bluetooth enabled. However, until now there has not been a standard set of instructions to exchange data. This means that each device must have its own proprietary application to communicate with. Bluetooth HDP devices will be able to communicate with applications developed to support the new standard. One huge benefit to consumers is that we can buy a heart monitor from one vendor and a blood oxygen meter from another. Both of these devices can now communicate with your health care providers chosen health management system. This is good for the consumer because it give us choice and does not lock us into a single vendor’s solution. We are also able to pick the best of breed hardware and software as well as purchase at competitive prices.
Why do we need a standard set of instructions? Imagine if the web did not use a standard set of protocols and technology to present web pages? This would mean that you would need a specific browser to view a website built with technology X and another for one built with technology Y. One web browser, like Firefox, may or may not work with every website. Because of these standards we can use one browser to surf the web.
Medical device manufacturers and health management software developers will be the largest consumers of this technology. Because we have a growing aging population, healthcare providers need to figure out better ways to provide quality care to their customers and scale with the increasing number of cases. However, there are others that can also take advantage of this technology. For example, cardio equipment manufactures could use Bluetooth HDP to receive data from a heart monitor worn by the user and send it to the treadmill they are running on. The speed of the treadmill could be increased or decreased based on data received from the heart monitor and according to the workout type. The heart monitor could also be used on any other treadmill at any other gym as long as it is a Bluetooth HDP enabled piece of equipment.
The possibilities are endless for the implementation of Bluetooth HDP. Creative individuals and groups will of course push this technology to the limits.
Some Devices Currently Supporting Bluetooth HDP
- HUAWEI MediaPad
- uzHealth HDP Weighing Scale
- Nonin oximeter
- Android 4.0 Devices, and many others…