Verizon, BL Healthcare Show 4G LTE-Enabled Telemedicine Terminal

BL Healthcare is testing an HD telemedicine terminal on Verizon's 4G LTE network and demonstrated the product at CES.

Verizon Wireless and remote health management provider BL Healthcare have demonstrated a 4G LTE version of a high definition video-enabled telemedicine platform.

The exhibition of BL's TCx-I Healthcare Access Terminal enabled for Verizon's 4G LTE-enabled network took place at the Consumer Electronics Show from Jan. 6-9.

As part of BL's HD video-enabled platform, the company allows caregivers and patients to hold medical telemetry sessions using multipoint HD video conferencing.

In a video demonstration at CES, John Sharood, BL's COO, said the company designed the terminal's interface for the elderly or "anyone who can touch a button."

The terminal can receive medical data from nearby FDA-approved Bluetooth devices and hold videoconferences with a caregiver or doctor.

During these sessions, patients can link in family members at the same time.

"There have been traditional telemedicine systems for a number of years, but what we're doing with this particular telemedicine system is combining the medical telemetry and the videoconferencing capabilities in a novel way," Sharood told eWEEK.

The platform also incorporates care pathways that are programmable and configurable for various patients, he explained.

The telemedicine technology allows doctors to view data such as EKGs while holding a videoconference with the patient. It can also connect devices such as blood pressure monitors, scales, pulse readers, peak flow meters and glucometers.

"BL Healthcare has introduced an integrated platform that is FDA 510K certified and includes functionality such as embedded multipoint videoconferencing, multimedia support, instant messaging, real-time alerts, and the ability to communicate with multiple wired and wireless vital sign measurement and peripheral medical devices," David Westrom, BL's vice president of strategy and business development, wrote in a company white paper.

Verizon provides an environment for BL and other companies to test new products under development at the LTE Innovation Center, based in the Boston area.

"We've provided a place to test, consult with our network folks, their expertise, but it is a BL product," Debra Lewis, a spokesperson for Verizon Wireless, told eWEEK.

The carrier's 4G LTE network launched on December 5 in 38 metropolitan areas and 60 commercial airports.

Opened in 2008, the mission of the LTE Innovation Center is to "establish and facilitate a multidisciplinary, collaborative community that rapidly develops tomorrow's LTE nontraditional market-driving products and services using the advanced broadband capabilities of Verizon Wireless' next generation network," Verizon states on its Web site.

A 3G version of the Healthcare Access Terminal, which debuted in early 2010, is FDA approved and available on both Verizon and Sprint, Sharood told eWEEK.

Arrival of the 4G LTE version awaits FDA clearance, he added.

"One of the things that really stands out about the 4G LTE experience is just the incredible bandwidth that you get and the quality of the videoconferencing you're able to execute along with the telemetry," Sharood said.

The low latency of Verizon's LTE network could make such remote health monitoring work well on the network, Verizon's Lewis noted.

"Health care is potentially one of those industries that could see value in seeing solutions on a 4G LTE network," she said. "Telemedicine is obviously very popular and could be a very real world application that takes advantage of LTE."

Of American wireless users, one-third currently use Verizon's 4G LTE Mobile Broadband network, according to the carrier. The company hopes its entire 3G coverage area will use 4G LTE within three years.

Not to be outdone, at CES AT&T launched its own 4G LTE network, which the carrier says will begin operating in mid-2011.