The Federal Communications Commission has finalized rules for the operation of Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs), which are designed to provide clinicians with more extensive real-time data permitting faster patient intervention.

“MBAN technology provides a platform for the wireless networking of multiple body-worn sensors used for measuring and recording physiological parameters and other patient information or for performing diagnostic or therapeutic functions, primarily in healthcare facilities,” states the FCC rule. “MBAN devices promise to enhance patient safety, care and comfort by reducing the need to physically connect sensors to essential monitoring equipment by cables and wires.”

In May 2012, the FCC voted to allocate 40 megahertz of spectrum in the 2360-2400 MHz band for these low-power networks, with the 2360-2390 MHz band to be used indoors only and the 2390-2400 MHz band to accommodate outdoor use. A final rule was released in September 2012. However, the latest final rule released Aug. 21 by the FCC is a “reconsideration and second report and order” that the commission argues takes “further actions to foster the development and deployment of new and innovative” MBAN devices.

“In addressing petitions for reconsideration of the First Report and Order in this proceeding, we provide MBAN users with additional flexibility to enable the implementation of technical standards being developed for MBAN devices, and clarify and modify portions of our rules to facilitate the coordination, deployment, and use of MBAN systems,” states the FCC document. “In the Second Report and Order portion in this proceeding, we finalize the process for selecting a Medical Body Area Network Coordinator. This coordinator will facilitate use of the MBAN frequencies, which operate in shared-use bands.”

The MBAN coordinator will work to remove or mitigate RF interference between MBANs and other wireless systems which utilize the same operational frequency. MBANs have the potential for interference from legacy wireless networks that can disrupt hospital operations and adversely impact patient safety.

The FCC claims it can minimize that risk by adopting rules that permit an MBAN device to operate only over relatively short distances and as part of a low power networked system, and by providing frequencies where an MBAN can co-exist with existing spectrum users and engage in “robust frequency re-use.”

According to FCC, the U.S. is the first country in the world to dedicate spectrum for MBANs which will consist of wearable monitors that send non-voice data to nearby hubs and will free patients from their hospital beds, resulting in “reductions in emergency transfers and less exposure to hospital-acquired infections” which “could save countless lives and reduce nationwide healthcare expenses by billions of dollars.”

The new rules are available here.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Health Data Management content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access