A heterogeneous network management approach to wireless sensor networks in personal healthcare environments

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Many countries are facing problems caused by a rapid surge in numbers of people over sixty-five. This aging population cohort will place a strain on the existing health systems because the elderly are prone to falls, chronic illnesses, dementia and general frailty. At the same time governments are struggling to attract more people into the health systems and there are already shortages of qualified nurses and care givers. This thesis represents a multi disciplinary approach to trying to solve some of the above issues. In the first instance the researcher has established the validity of the health crisis and then examined ways in which Information Technology could help to alleviate some of the issues. The nascent technology called Wireless Sensor Networks was examined as a way of providing remote health monitoring for the elderly, the infirm and the ill. The researcher postulated that Network Management models and tools that are used to monitor huge networks of computers could be adapted to monitor the health of persons in their own homes, in aged care facilities and hospitals. Wireless Sensor Network (WNS) Personal Healthcare can monitor such vital signs as a patient’s temperature, heart rate and blood oxygen level. WSNs (often referred to as Motes) use wireless transceivers that can do remote sensing. The researcher aimed to assist all stakeholders in the personal healthcare arena to use WSNs to improve monitoring. The researcher provided a solution architecture and framework for healthcare sensor monitoring systems, based on network management techniques. This architecture generalises to heterogeneous and autonomous data acquisition systems. Future directions from this research point towards new areas of knowledge from the development or creation of new technologies to support the exponential growth of ubiquitous, just-in-time WSN health informational services and applications such as the preventive and proactive personal care health management and services around it. The affordable and ubiquitous distributed access to remote personal health care technologies in the future could have an important impact in the society, by allowing the individuals to take immediate preventive actions over their overall health condition. These systems could potentially prevent death as well as improve national health budgets by limiting costly medical interventions that could have been avoided by individual, easy-action early prevention.
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