The most common usage for biotelemetry is in dedicated cardiac care telemetry units or step-down units in hospitals. Although virtually any physiological signal could be transmitted, application is typically limited to cardiac monitoring and SpO2.
Components of a biotelemetry system
A typical biotelemetry system comprises:
- Sensors appropriate for the particular signals to be monitored
- Battery-powered, Patient worn transmitters
- A Radio Antenna and Receiver
- A display unit capable of concurrently presenting information from multiple patients
Some of the first uses of biotelemetry systems date to the early space race, where physiological signals obtained from animals or human passengers were transmitted back to Earth for analysis (the name of the medical device manufacturer Spacelabs Healthcare is a reflection of their start in 1958 developing biotelemetry systems for the early U.S. space program).
Because of crowding of the radio spectrum due to the recent introduction of digital television in the United States and many other countries, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as well as similar agencies elsewhere have recently begun to allocate dedicated frequency bands for exclusive biotelemetry usage, for example, the Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS). The FCC has designated the American Society for Healthcare Engineering of the American Hospital Association (ASHE/AHA) as the frequency coordinator for the WMTS.