Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Implantable Antenna's: The Future of Medicine?

As technology continues to change, so too does the practice of medicine. Medicine benefits from new technology in a huge way—arthroscopic surgeries, non-invasive surgeries are all things that have benefitted the medical field as technology has changed.

A new device that is in the works is an implantable antenna. It would use new wireless technologies and allow for patient care to occur outside of the doctor’s office. According to an article in Wired,” New low-power wireless technologies make it possible to implant monitoring devices in people's bodies, to help keep an eye on blood pressure, metabolism and other vital statistics”.

While this seems like a great idea, there is huge challenge that the creators need to overcome in order for this to be a success. According to the article, “one of the challenges of these new wireless devices is designing a suitable antenna that can operate within the human body where fat, muscle and skin tissue create challenging conditions for wireless signals”. This antenna must also be to work in various conditions, as each person’s body is different from the next.

The implantable antenna uses “the 402-405MHz Medical Implant Communications Service (MICS) frequency band. Combined with a custom integrated chip or a system on a chip, device makers can use the antenna in pacemakers, neurostimulation devices, and swallow-able imaging and diagnostic systems.” The device would also allow for doctors to follow blood pressure, heart rate, metabolism and numerous other vital functions.

This has the potential to change patient care. It would be a paradigm shift, as people who were implanted with this device would no longer need to go to the doctor for a routine check-up. Doctors could do it all on-line. Would this eliminate the need for general practitioners? Would it create a new specialty—one that would have to do with digital monitoring of these wireless antennas? As in the article by Malone, would this encourage a group of those who monitor vitals to work together in an electronic way? Is this a new form of collective intelligence?

Another question I have about this is does it have the potential to turn into a “Big Brother” situation, where employers or government workers are able to monitor vitals of whoever they chose?


  1. This reminds me of the chips that pet owners have placed in their animals to identify them if lost. I wonder this human technology is as an incremental innovation from these less complex devices. Prior to this article I have also heard of a similar but less complex device that would be implanted in humans. This chip would only store your medical records in case of emergency thus decreasing the "big brother" complications. It would be good for people with serious medical conditions or allergies that may not be initially evident to a physician. I would happily be an early adaptor to this type of technology.

  2. I have to be honest, this creeps me out a little bit. Though I do see how it would provide a benefit, especially to the elderly. This technology would also help hospitals get people in and out quickly, which would make them more money. My concern is the organization that will have to go along with this. Would one person be monitoring four different people? And what if someone needed immediate assistance, is an ambulance going to be fast enough? I am not sold on this technology, but am interested to hear more.

  3. I think that the elderly are also a good group for using this technology, but that the elderly would probably be the most resistant to its use. I think the elderly will not trust results or data sent to and from the devices.

    I also think it presents a serious liability issue regarding negligence for doctors. How often are they expected to monitor it if the information is constantly available?

  4. if this technology will be fully tested and can guarantee a secure way of monitoring patients wherever and whenever, this is going to be very beneficial for all concerned patients. it will require lesser time, save on transportation costs and most especially, doctors will be able to serve more patients in a shorter period of time.

  5. @laura I totally agree that the elderly is the best group to use this. they should enjoy the benefit since they don't have the strength of the youth anymore. unfortunately the elder's are somehow resistant to changes at some extent

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  7. As in the article by Malone, would this encourage a group of those who monitor vitals to work together in an electronic way? tv antennas