Ubiquitous Lifesigns Monitoring
Embedding electronics directly into fabrics, and weaving intelligent clothing is possible these days. Thus, it is not a great step to envisage clothes which continuously monitor your vital signs, and relay that information to a computer system, also located about your person, or in your house or vehicle.
In fact, a few products which do just that, are already on the market. A couple of examples would include:
Why All The Fuss?
If there seems to be an inordinate amount of fuss over wearable healthcare within this and other resources here, and elsewhere on the web, that is because we are rapidly approaching a point at which these will be more desirable than a hospital stay.
The advantage of telehealth devices is just that - remote healthcare. No need to be in a hospital, yet still maintain the same standard of care for all but intensive care patients. For the hospital, that means less beds occupied, less expensive staff to keep on hand to monitor and tend to dietary and hygeine needs of the inpatients. For the patients, it means their condition can be monitored, as they go about their daily lives. It allows instant access to ther equivalent of a complete physical, day or night. It also allows one other, growing benefit:
Superbugs are bacteria which live in hospitals. Constantly exposed to every antibiotic on the market, they build up immunities to all of them, and rapidly become unkillable. By 2005, at least 100,000 people per year were picking up an infection of these growing superbugs, caught whilst they were in hospital. By 2007, even in developed nations like the US and UK, the concept of having a hospital quarantined due to an in-house created, lethal bacteria, was just a concept no longer.
Antibiotics are not completely powerless but patients may require a much higher dose over a much longer period, or the use of an alternative antibiotic to which the bug has less resistance. Sadly of course, the more alternative antibiotics that are used, the less options there are for the next patient, as the bacteria adapts and becomes resistant to the new ones as well.
Add in that the population in hospitals tends to be older, sicker and weaker than the general population, making them more vulnerable to the infection, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Thus, as these infections continue to spread, almost unchecked, through our hospitals, the need for hospital care remotely, becomes ever more pressing. At current rates, it will only be a few years before telehealth monitoring is vital for patient safety.