Philips Wireless Monitor Helps Track Hospital Patients' Vitals

A new wireless health monitor from Philips, the IntelliVue MX40, allows doctors and nurses to track patients' health around any hospital.

Royal Philips Electronics has unveiled the IntelliVue MX40, a wireless health monitor that allows doctors and nurses to track the vital signs of patients at or away from the hospital bed.

The device supports the company's Smart-hoppingwireless protocol, a wireless spectrum reserved for medical telemetry. The IntelliVue Telemetry System transmits wireless signals of patients' vital signs between a main terminal and mobile monitoring devices.

Worn in a pouch around the neck or attached to a hospital gown, the MX40 allows patients to be away from their bedside while still being monitored throughout a medical facility.

In addition to Philips' Smart-hopping network, the MX40 runs on a 2.4GHz wireless frequency and supports some aspects of ZigBee wireless technology, according to Dale Wiggins, chief technology officer for patient care and clinical informatics at Philips Healthcare. ZigBee is a low-power wireless standard run by the nonprofit ZigBee Alliance.

Patients might wear the device if they're being monitored following surgery or during an acute medical episode, Philips reports.

The color monitor on the MX40 allows physicians to view data on heart activity, blood oxygen levels and blood pressure. It can transmit information to electronic health records (EHRs), and physicians can view the data on other mobile devices through a Web portal. The unit, introduced on Aug. 29, features various alarm settings and allows doctors to view patient histories and vital trends.

Plus, the monitor can handle cleaning detergents and can reduce hospital-acquired infections, Wiggins told eWEEK. "We eliminated some of the typical seams and ingresses that allow the infections to actually get inside the device where it's actually impossible or very difficult to clean," he said.

The unit is resistant to spills and conforms to the IPX7 rating for submersion in up to 1 meter of water. Patients can even wear the monitor in the shower.

"It's a very small, very lightweight device that patients don't feel a burden wearing," Wiggins said. "That's a real differentiation from previous generations of this technology where they tended to be very large and rather heavy." The large, heavy models of the past weren't suitable for older patients, he noted.

Many of the other models in the IntelliVue line are larger desktop-size monitors and lack color displays.

The device allows doctors and nurses to view vital data on the unit while connected to the patient rather than having to walk away and check a monitor, Wiggins said.

"Typically a nurse or technician has to go to the patient, put on the leads, the electrodes and then call back to the central station or telemetry cockpit and see if this looks right, or in some cases they'd have to walk all the way back to the unit to see if it's right," he explained. The MX40 allows nurses to see if they're getting the right signals from equipment without leaving the patient.