Motivation

Smarter and smaller medical monitoring devices demand ever more sophisticated techniques to acquire and process data. Such devices have the potential to impact the pharmaceutical and biomedical industry. While most wearable biomedical systems today are designed to address life threatening situations, such as diabetes, heart monitoring, a shift from treatment to prevention and the trend to “life style management” have already been envisioned. Examples are applications in long-term heart monitoring to quantify recovery after surgery and improving performance in sports. This technology also provides the healthcare system with opportunities to face the grandiose challenge of an aging society and the alarming situation of our health insurance system. Early fall detection and the monitoring of various physical parameters allow many elderly persons to stay home when the society is unable to support and staff sufficient nursing homes.

The immediate approach of an aging society urgently requires mass coordinated interdisciplinary efforts to realize the goal. For example, across Europe, from 2008 to 2013 the Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) joint programme is expected to invest €700 millions to enhance the quality of life of older people and strengthen the industrial base in Europe through the use of ICT. The motivation of the new funding activity is in the demographic change and aging in Europe, which implies not only challenges but also opportunities for the citizens, the social and healthcare systems as well as industry and the European market (see http://www.aal-europe.eu/about-aal).

Using a mathematical concept called sparsity, it is possible that the necessary information for diagnosis can be constructed from far less measurements than today’s conventional technology requires. The investigation and implementation of sparse methods in biomedical sensing technology require the collaboration between biomedical engineering and computational mathematics.

Advances based on sparse methods can lead to the realization of smaller and smarter wearable biomedical monitoring systems. This is because less transmitted data can extend battery life and reduce storage in a wireless and wearable system. Such systems also enable users to move freely and unconstrained instead of being confined to a hospital bed or a healthcare facility. The potential to fundamentally change the way a society organizes this aspect of healthcare requires an appropriate assessment from an economic point of view.

The urgent agenda due to the arrival of an aging society hence calls for the engineers and scientists to work side by side with social scientists. In this project, assessments and evaluations from healthcare economy constantly interact with and are taken into consideration in the development of the technology. Such cooperation may not only lead to smarter biomedical devices, but also a smarter healthcare system that incorporates the advances of technology.