From UF and IBM, a blueprint for 'smart' health care

Gainesville, Fla. -- Always on, connected, cheap and on sale everywhere.

What people have come to expect in cell phones and personal communicators may soon become common in health-care devices and products at home and in medical offices, thanks to new technology announced today by the University of Florida and IBM.

The technology creates the first-ever roadmap for widespread commercial development of smart devices that, for example, take a persons blood pressure, temperature or respiration rate the minute a person steps into his or her house then transmit it immediately and automatically to doctors or family.

That could eliminate the need for many doctors visits, which are often difficult for the elderly or sick. By enabling regular updates via text message or e-mail, the technology also could pave the way for people to share real-time information on their health or well-being with absent loved ones. And it could prove useful for doctors who need to keep tabs on many patients at one time by helping the doctors to prioritize whom to treat first.

We call it quality-of-life engineering, said Sumi Helal, professor of computer engineering and the projects lead UF researcher. Its really a change of mindset.

The idea of using technology to provide medical care at a distance is nothing new. Doctors have relied on telemedicine to communicate with specialists for years. More recently, telemedicine has been expanded to include, for example, surgeons performing robotic procedures on distant patients.

But the UF-IBM advance goes a step further: It provides the technological stepstones to make it easy for any company to manufacture and sell smart networked devices -- while also making them more user-friendly for consumers.

UF and IBM both see the need and the opportunity to integrate the physical world of sensors and other devices directly into enterprise systems, said Richard Bakalar, Chief Medical Offic

Contact: Sumi Helal
University of Florida

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