Dr. J. -C. Chiao, is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at University of Texas – Arlington. He chaired one of the sessions at the Conference on Biomedical Wireless Technologies. Dr Chiao gives us his view on coming breakthroughs in the use of wireless technologies in medical applications.
What do you see as the next big thing in medical applications of wireless technology?
Dr. J.C. Chiao:
My Perspective on the breakthroughs are in two different levels. In the application levels, many researchers have made their way into clinical setting is quite obvious for everyone; the engineer, the doctors, nurses, hospital administrator, policy maker and insurance carrier that making medical implant devices and systems wireless have tremendous merits. Not only does the wireless device untether the patient from instruments making it possible to monitor patients 24 hours a day 7 days a week, making the patient feel comfortable and mobile and lets the patient resume normal daily life. And it also receives accurate readings continuously not just a snapshot of the condition or disease at the moment when we visit the doctor and but also the technology unclutter the hospital and emergency rooms, reduce doctor and nurses workloads so they can focus on the urgent issues and make monitoring a large population of patients easier and more efficient. Especially we are in an aging society. So I think utilizing wireless communication and wireless power in medical systems will be a steady trend. Although it seems quite straight forward, it’s not easy considering different disease will have different requirements for the implants or devices. Technical challenges still remain such as antenna configuration, antenna size, device size, form factor, implant delivery methods, power consumption, radio frequency power, long term implant issues, standards, protocols and the comfort level of patents and doctors and all these factors are good challenges to solve for us in the future.
On a different level, on the research level, existing medical applications will benefit continuously from advance microwave and radio frequency research such as MRI and functional MRI, microwave hypothermia, microwave ablation. I think their benefit has been identified and so much more advances will come out in the near future and there are many emerging technology that will probably make a difference in future medicine; microwave imaging for breast and skin cancer diagnosis radio radar monitoring of patient vital sign, radar assisted radiation treatment in vivo monitoring of physiological and biochemical parameters, using microwave and millimeter wave terahertz signals to interrogate cells to understand cell properties and use the cell property to distinguish cancerous or non cancerous cells and do this in vivo or in vitro or doing it using endoscopic probe inside the patient or use patient specimen in a microfluidic device and using radio frequency to inhibit tumor growth or use millimeter wave for tissue or mod cell stimulation and this research is just on the horizon for significant clinical applications they can potentially change the diagnosis and treatment methods in the hospital.