Researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, have received a $400,000 grant to further the integration of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology into pervasive healthcare technology.

The National Science Foundation’s Cyber Trust Program awarded the grant to support work to incorporate RFID technology into cardiac sensor networks and to enhance the security of the systems, also known as telemedicine technology, to reduce the risks of identity theft and cyber-terrorism.

‘Telemedicine technology can greatly increase the quality of medical care while also decreasing health care costs,’ said Fei Hu, assistant professor of computer engineering at Rochester and principal researcher. ‘We hope to promote the implementation of the technology in nursing homes and adult care facilities across the country.’

Cardiac sensor networks use wireless sensors to remotely monitor a patient’s heart rate and blood pressure and transfer this information to doctors and hospitals off site. According to Hu, they are seen as a major avenue for increasing the quality of diagnosis and reducing the need for costly medical supervision.

One of the challenges of the technology, however, is how to make the technology more secure. The researchers plan to overcome this by exploring anti-interference technology to reduce radio distortion of the networks, so that the RFID data cannot be accessed by unauthorised readers.

‘It is my hope this research will assist in better protecting these systems and allow greater numbers of doctors and patients to take advantage of the benefits of telemedicine,’ said Hu.

Hu will collaborate with Yang Xiao, professor of computer science at the University of Alabama on the project.