In order for remote patient monitoring devices to work, and to work well, the patient needs to be connected to a cellular network that is dependable, fast, and secure, plus reasonably priced. What are the perils to reliable cellular connectivity and how do you overcome them? The following is a discussion of the four greatest risks for remote patient monitoring devices and the advantages that machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) cellular networks provide.
1. Signal Availability: A cell tower can handle only a certain number of simultaneous calls. So in urban areas, cellular networks are sometimes saturated by consumers using their handsets. Such saturation also happens during sporting events or when there is breaking news, such as an impending storm. A cellular network that is dedicated only to machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) traffic is never interrupted by consumer traffic. A M2M / IoT cellular network like Aeris, monitors network availability and switches calls to networks which are not at capacity. Aeris is unique in our ability to provide this service without roaming charges because we have partnered with more than 550 wireless operators across the United States and around the world.
2. Cellular Coverage & Dead Spots: Cellular technology, at the frequency it currently operates in most countries, is line of sight. In rural areas, distance and the curvature of the earth or obstructions like mountains, create cellular shadows where there is no signal. Also some small communities that do not want cell towers in their area have been successful in blocking needed towers in remote areas, thereby exasperating the problem.
In the patchwork system that we have todaywhich definitely wastes resources like landeach carrier builds their own towers. Then they rent space to other cellular operators on that tower and depending on the rates, some operators may not add their signal. More, traditional cellular operators like AT&T and Verizon will keep devices on their network, even if their signal is weak. Because of our deep and established partnerships with more than 550 other operators around the world, Aeris is able to switch our customers devices to the operator with the strongest signal, no matter where the device is located.
3. Security: The algorithm used to encrypt GSM traffic was cracked 11 years ago. Today hackers can buy a receiver for as low as $9 that lets them listen in on data sent across the GSM network in clear text. To address that, Aeris encrypts data twice using IPsec VPN connection. That algorithm cannot be defeated, even by very sophisticated hackers.
4. Message Delays: Finally, traditional cellular networks are designed to handle Twitter and Facebook posts, voice calls, and SMS text messages. They are not built to take advantage of technology unique to M2M / IoT communications. For example, wireless operators place SMS text messages in a queue. That practice can result in a significant delivery delay. A M2M / IoT operator like Aeris sends text messages across the IP network in point-to-point fashion, so there is never a delay.
In sum, monitoring patient health helps with quality of life issues for those who are ill or could become ill by letting them live independently, away from the hospital or nursing home. It also helps the caregiver provide better health care because the clinic is watching the patients vital signs. Remote patient monitoring also drives down costs for insurers and patients by reducing hospitals stays and the need for treatment. The most reliable, cost efficient, and secure way to make sure these monitors work is to use a dedicated M2M / IoT operator instead of a traditional wireless carrier.