By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. telecommunications regulator is expected to announce plans on Thursday to set aside spectrum to connect wireless medical devices for more convenient health monitoring.

The Federal Communications Commission said it is scheduled to vote on May 24 to adopt the plan for so-called Medical Body Area Networks, according to the telecom regulator, which has been working on the project for about two years.

The idea is that doctors could monitor a patient's vital signs at home or in hospital via low-cost wearable sensors that are attached to the patient's body and wirelessly connected to the machines that process and display the data for doctors.

Currently, such sensors have to be attached directly to machines by wires, making it difficult for patients to leave their beds.

According to the FCC, the new devices could help speed a diagnosis or allow earlier intervention in the case of a medical problem as doctors may be able to respond more quickly.

The regulator hopes to set aside two spectrum bands for the devices, one of which would only be valid for devices used in medical facilities. A second spectrum band could be used for remote monitoring of patients who are in their own homes.

(Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)




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