Wireless device can monitor patients

/ Source: The Associated Press

Nordic telecommunications operator TeliaSonera AB said Wednesday it is launching a new product that lets doctors monitor their patients through a wireless device.

The new system, which is called BodyKom, connects wirelessly to sensors on the patient. If dangerous changes are detected in the patient's body, the hospital or health care services are automatically alerted over a secure mobile network connection.

The unit receiving the alarm will also be informed of the geographic position of the patient through the use of GPS technology.

TeliaSonera is launching the service together with Hewlett Packard Co. and Swedish technology company Kiwok.

"It can be difficult for patients to understand exactly how their body feels, if for example there is irregular heart activity," said Professor Christer Sylven of the Karolinska University Hospital in Solna, just outside Stockholm. "In theory, the patient would be able to be at home or at work and still feel safe. If something were to happen, health care personnel would know immediately and be able to respond more quickly."

The concept will be tested this spring, either at the Karolinska University Hospital or the Uppsala University Hospital, Kiwok spokesman Bjoern Soederberg said.

TeliaSonera aims to sell BodyKom mainly to hospitals, where a similar service is currently used to monitor heart rates. The service will be expanded to monitor diabetes, asthma and other diseases which may require timely intervention, the company said.

"The service will mean an improved quality of life for the patients, who won't be required to remain in a hospital for health control," said Erik Heilborn, a TeliaSonera spokesman. "If more patients can sign out of hospitals earlier, more valuable space will be created in the wards and taxpayer money can be saved."