Wireless sensor networks need to clear a few hurdles for mHealth

While the benefits of wireless sensor networks are clear when it comes to improving healthcare services, saving time and money and advancing mHealth apps and devices, there are hurdles ahead in achieving all those expected benefits.

A new study in the International Journal of Computer Science and Mobile Computing highlights patient privacy, data security and legal issues as top barriers to more prolific wireless sensor use and recommends that the challenges are tackled soon to ensure wireless sensor network innovations move forward.

"Healthcare sensor networks applications have a bright future and it is a must to take up these issues at the earliest," the report's authors write. "The issues should be carefully studied and understood or else they can pose serious problems."

The study arrives as more wireless mHeath technology is flowing into the medical environment, with emergency rooms tapping Google Glass apps and researchers developing a stretchable antenna for wearable devices that can withstand twisting and rolling. Mobile monitoring services are a major factor spurring growth in the mHealth market, an industry that is expected to hit projected revenue of more than $49 billion within six years, according to Grand View Research. The sector is cited as the "dominant and fastest-growing" market segment.

According to the study, high-performance microprocessor and sensing materials have driven the evolution of wireless biomedical sensor networks (WSNs). These networks can connect several devices that can then be used to tackle specific monitoring and tracking tasks.

"Research in field of nanostructures and sensors has brought real opportunities for development of WSNs," explain the authors.

But before the opportunities can be capitalized on, there is a list of challenges to be addressed. The study, which provides a comprehensive overview of the current status, use and research of WSNs, outlines the hurdles, including poor mobile device battery life, platform use and integration, data transmission speeds and a need to validate tech models in real-time environments.

"The main reason to use mobile phones in the healthcare domain is to improve quality and availability of services," the report's authors write, adding that mobile sensors can also improve quality and decrease cost of healthcare services. "The combination of intelligent data processing for clinical decision-making processes, and subsequently alert agents and healthcare professionals alike is a step toward optimization of dynamic healthcare monitoring services tailored according to each user."

To learn more:
- read the paper

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