Wireless body area network control policies for energy‐efficient health monitoring

Yair Bar David, Tal Geller, Ilai Bistritz*, Irad Ben‐gal, Nicholas Bambos*, Evgeni Khmelnitsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wireless body area networks (WBANs) have strong potential in the field of health monitoring. However, the energy consumption required for accurate monitoring determines the time between battery charges of the wearable sensors, which is a key performance factor (and can be critical in the case of implantable devices). In this paper, we study the inherent trade‐off between the power consumption of the sensors and the probability of misclassifying a patient’s health state. We formulate this trade‐off as a dynamic problem, in which at each step, we can choose to activate a subset of sensors that provide noisy measurements of the patient’s health state. We assume that the (unknown) health state follows a Markov chain, so our problem is formulated as a partially observable Markov decision problem (POMDP). We show that all the past measurements can be summarized as a belief state on the true health state of the patient, which allows tackling the POMDP problem as an MDP on the belief state. Then, we empirically study the performance of a greedy one‐step look‐ahead policy compared to the optimal policy obtained by solving the dynamic program. For that purpose, we use an open‐source Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) dataset of 232 patients over six months and extract the transition matrix and sensor accuracies from the data. We find that the greedy policy saves ≈50% of the energy costs while reducing the misclassification costs by less than 2% compared to the most accurate policy possible that always activates all sensors. Our sensitivity analysis reveals that the greedy policy remains nearly optimal across different cost parameters and a varying number of sensors. The results also have practical importance, because while the optimal policy is too complicated, a greedy one‐step look‐ahead policy can be easily implemented in WBAN systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4245
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2 Jun 2021


FundersFunder number
Koret Foundation


    • Controlled sensing
    • Energy efficiency
    • Partially observable Markov decision processes (POMDPs)
    • Remote health monitoring
    • Wireless body area networks


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