GE Healthcare introduced AirStrip OB, their wireless fetal monitoring surveillance product at HIMSS 2006 in San Diego. Here's a story about the system and some early users in the San Antonio Express News. The 510(k) approved system transmits near real-time waveforms from GE fetal monitors for obstetrician's to use in diagnosis and treatment decisions during labor. The system took 2 years to develop by software vendor MP4, and is sold by GE exclusively into the labor and delivery market.

The first facility in the country to install AirStrip was Fairview Hospital, part of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

"Our chairman saw a demo and said, 'We have to have it,'" said Terry McDaniel, system administrator for CentriCity Perinatal at Fairview.

It launched in September with 10 doctors. Through word of mouth, two or three more ask to be added each month, McDaniel said.

She said some of the doctors are heavy users of the new technology for everything from looking at readings that an on-site nurse may find troubling to viewing test results immediately.

AirStrip OB will be in eight hospitals and used by 191 doctors by February, and MP4 executives expect usage to grow quickly. It has just been approved by hospital giant HCA Corp. for installation in any of their 200 hospitals that want it.

And GE is marketing to the 1,500 hospitals around the country that already have GE labor and delivery monitoring equipment compatible with AirStrip.

It costs about $60,000 for a hospital to install the software that lets GE Healthcare's obstetrics monitoring equipment in the hospital communicate with the doctors' hand-held devices. Physicians then pay an annual subscription fee of $299.

Pictured right is fetal monitoring data being streamed to a Nokia smartphone via AirStrip at HIMSS 2006.