The FCC should grant the Massachusetts Institute of Technology a waiver for a swept-frequency ultra-wide band (UWB) indoor medical monitoring device because it has potential benefits ranging from improved clinical trials to better home-health monitoring of elderly dementia patients, parties from the medical community have told the Commission.
Parties were responding to a public notice in ET docket 19-89 in which the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology sought comment on a request by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a waiver to allow it to obtain certification of its WiTrack System, despite the fact that the system does not satisfy the FCC’s definition in its part 15 rules for an ultra-wideband transmitter “because each frequency step is less than 500 MHz in bandwidth ‘at any point in time’ even though the total bandwidth needed for optimal performance exceeds 500 MHz.”
In the public notice, OET said, “MIT states that the WiTrack System uses indoor swept signal of up to 2.5 GHz in the 6 to 8.5 GHz band to passively monitor mobility, breathing, and other physiological signals in patients and senior adults. Because the system would transmit a radiofrequency signal and receive its reflection from the environment, it would not require the use of body-worn sensors. MIT has indicated that different versions of the devices would sweep slightly different frequencies within the 6-8.5 GHz range” (TR Daily, March 29).
LEO Science & Tech Hub, a Cambridge, Mass.–based innovation unit of Denmark’s LEO Pharma A/S, supported MIT’s request, saying, “We believe that the MIT Witrack device has significant potential to benefit patients by transforming clinical research and healthcare delivery. The Witrack device has already demonstrated outstanding healthcare related capabilities, such as accurately monitoring the mobility of a person through wireless radio signals, as well as their breathing, heart rate, other vital signs, itching etc.”
It added that the device “enables companies like us to perform clinical research, understand patient needs, and react to them in a more effective way. Further, it can lead to the validation of a new standard of measurement for itching to be used as an end-point in clinical trials. Such a measurement of itching can also fundamentally change the way in which doctors manage skin conditions by allowing them to monitor their patients’ condition and adjust medication dosage and regimen on an individual basis. The net result will be a significant improvement in the health outcomes and quality of life for a large population — over 10 million children, and 7 million adults.”
Brent Forester, chief of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School also “strongly” supported the MIT petition for waiver.
Noting that 13 million seniors live alone in the U.S., vulnerable to “falls, accidental injuries, chronic disease exacerbations, and depression,” Dr. Forester said that “[i]n Witrack, MIT has developed a revolutionary technology for in-home health monitoring, which cuts across science, engineering and medicine. By creating a first-of-its-kind touchless monitoring system, Witrack directly improves patient monitoring, particularly for older patients, since traditional monitoring methods, which often require the patient to regularly charge and wear one or more devices on their body, are ill suited to their needs.”
Dr. Forester added, “With my colleagues at Harvard Medical School, and in collaboration with the Witrack team, we have explored the use of the Witrack device in monitoring patients with advanced dementia. In our studies, we were able to use Witrack’s passive measurement to detect and quantify repetitive pacing which is associated with anxiety and agitation, commonly exhibited in patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s. We are looking further into the potential use of this device in improving care for such patients.”
The MIT device “fills a crucial gap in treatment and care for older adults with psychiatric illness and neurodegnerative diseases. A key difficulty in providing care for such patients is getting reliable information about their health status and activities to understand their condition and progress. Today, doctors have to rely on incomplete, and often inaccurate, information from patients and caregivers. Witrack’s ability to provide accurate and objective measurements without encumbering patients in any way will allow doctors to make more informed decisions, and ultimately improve healthcare outcomes for the U.S’s aging population.” —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]
MainStory: FederalNews FCC SpectrumAllocation
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