The Federal Communications Commission and the Food and Drug Administration on March 31 will host a day-long public workshop in Washington, D.C., on wireless medical test beds and their influence on the development of converged medical technology for clinical and non-clinical settings.

Wireless medical test beds are meant to advance the development and deployment of wireless technology for healthcare applications. In 2013, the FCC reformed its experimental licensing program and established a medical testing license to permit healthcare facilities to undertake clinical trials of cutting-edge wireless medical technologies.

However, the creation of these test beds has sparked concerns that medical device experimentation could cause interference to other authorized users. Specifically, critics charge that these wireless technologies pose risks to patient safety and that it remains to be seen whether they are able to work harmoniously in a hospital setting.

“As the rapid pace of innovation blurs traditional boundaries between consumer health technology, medical devices, and communications, the agencies seek to better understand how wireless test beds can be used and configured to meet the challenges and to take advantage of the opportunities this convergence presents,” states an FCC announcement. “Consumers are increasingly using wireless health and care management tools at home; indeed, the emergence of the ‘hospital in the home’ concept opens new areas of medical technology innovation that must take into account the need for wireless co-existence.”

Topics to be covered at the workshop “may include the need for and scope of wireless medical device test beds, an overview of current public and private test bed programs and initiatives, a discussion of ideal features, functions and gaps of such programs, and how best to drive innovation and safe co-existence of wireless medical technologies,” according to the announcement.

FCC and FDA are encouraging the participation of a diverse range of stakeholders, including device  manufacturers, healthcare facilities and clinicians, test labs, standard-setting bodies, patient safety groups, researchers, and entrepreneurs, among others.

To register for the workshop to be held at the FCC Commission Meeting Room, send an e-mail to testbeds@fcc.gov with “Registration” in the subject line and your name, organization affiliation and contact information. A free webcast of the live event will be available at FCC.gov/live.

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