Wireless asthma inhaler links patient, doctor

Cambridge Consultants introduces a new technology that lets patients and health care professionals stay connected via medical devices, such as inhalers.

The Vena-enabled inhaler. Cambridge Consultants

There's now an alternative to the GPS-enabled inhaler for keeping patients connected with health care providers.

Cambridge Consultants on Wednesday brought its "connected patient" concept to life with a low-cost wireless platform that lets medical devices deliver readings to a central monitor located at home, or to an online health record such as Google Health or Microsoft Health Vault.

The idea behind the technology is that patients and their health care support professionals should be connected wirelessly, via the treatment devices. First up: the demo version of Vena-enabled inhalers.

The platform, called Vena, employs two emerging wireless standards, including the Infrared-based IEEE11073 and the Bluetooth Medical Device Profile. Vena embeds the two into a single chip as the combination of them ensures compatibility of data exchanged between different types of devices and the security in the transmitting of medical data.

The demo inhalers connect to an online personal health care application via a smartphone or a computer. The inhaler then can both remind patients to take their treatment and send compliance information to the relevant personal health care location online. Both patient and health care specialist can access the secure information to monitor progress and connect with one another.

Aside from the inhalers, other Vena-enabled medical devices, which are unspecified at this time, will be designed to connect similarly.

There are lots of potential benefits here. Researchers and health care providers can use non-patient-specific data gathered by these devices to improve heath care services. The system could also help facilitate the early detection of problems and lead to proactive intervention.

Like the GPS-enabled inhaler I wrote about last month, it's unclear when you can get yourself a Vena-enabled device. However, Cambridge Consultants is working on making Vena available to health care device developers, so it's safe to say that your doctor might recommenced you one in a near future.

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