Despite what publicists and copy writers would like us to believe, fundamental technology breakthroughs are few and far between. Bringing incremental improvements and assembling existing, sometimes decades-old technologies to fix persistent problems is the more common scenario. That describes the home health hub (HHH), which semiconductor company Freescale introduced at Medica this year. The technology is fairly mature, acknowledges Bruno Baylac, Director and General Manager of Metering, Medical and Connectivity Solutions within the Microcontroller Solutions Group. “What’s noteworthy here is that we are using existing technologies and putting them together to help bring some relief to a globally unsustainable healthcare ecosystem.”
As we know all too well, healthcare systems in the developed world are buckling under the convergence of an ageing population and ever-rising healthcare costs. HHH provides remote patient monitoring, thus potentially reducing healthcare costs and improving quality of life by allowing patients to remain at home rather than needlessly rushing to the emergency room or filling hospital beds.
The device is essentially a box that connects a number of software components in the home to collect and securely share health and wellness data. The data can be collected from wired or wireless blood pressure monitors, blood-glucose meters, weight scales, pulse oximeters and other devices. The results can be displayed on tablets, smartphones or PCs with medical-specific remote user interfaces or they can be transmitted to the cloud and shared with healthcare professionals.
The HHH reference tool is a foundation for connected healthcare systems, explains Baylac, providing developers with a platform for a prevalidated, secure connectivity device. The platform software complies with Continua profiles to facilitate compatibility, and it works with the Microsoft HealthVault, an online repository where health information can be securely organised, stored and shared. Freescale has partnered with Digi International to bring the HHH reference platform to market as the iDigi Telehealth Application Kit.
In sum, the HHH platform will help developers simplify the design of connected medical devices, says Freescale. Moreover, the system’s compatibility with Microsoft Windows Embedded software will help medical manufacturers and healthcare organisations to capture the full potential of connected medical data.Norbert Sparrow