Wireless Protocols for Ad-Hoc Medical Sensor Networks

Cecilia H. Vallejos de Schatz
Henry Medeiros, Marquette University
Fabio K. Schneider
Paulo J. Abatti

Published as part of the proceedings of the conference, Symposium on Imaging and Signal Processing in Healthcare and Technology (ISPHT 2011), May 16-18, 2011, Washington, DC, 2011. DOI: 10.2316/P.2011.737-038.

Henry Medeiros was affiliated with Purdue University at the time of publication.


This paper analyzes wireless communication protocols that could be used in healthcare environments (e.g., hospitals and small clinics) when transferring real-time medical information obtained from non-invasive sensors. For this purpose the features of the three currently most widely used protocols, namely Bluetooth (IEEE 802.15.1), ZigBee (IEEE 802.15.4), and Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11), are evaluated and compared. The important features include data bandwidth, frequency band, maximum transmission distance, encryption and authentication methods, power consumption and current applications. In addition, an overview of the network requirements with respect to medical sensors features, patient safety and patient data privacy and quality of service is briefly presented. The outcome of this assessment will be a useful tool in the hands of biomedical engineering researchers. It will pro-vide parameters to select the most effective combination of protocols to implement a specific wireless network of non-invasive medical sensors to monitor patients remotely in the hospital or at home.