/ 20 December 2013

New global standard for e-health

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An important milestone for global e-health has been achieved with final approval of a new standard that will better enable interoperability between e-health devices. The standard – Recommendation ITU-T H.810 – contains Continua Health Alliance’s design guidelines providing "Interoperability design guidelines for personal health systems". The Continua design guidelines provide for end-to-end, plug-and-play connectivity in personal connected health devices, which are based on global industry standards for interoperability.

Devices such as wireless blood pressure cuffs, weight scales and a wide range of activity trackers can play a critical role in the prevention and improved management of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Establishing global interoperability standards will stimulate innovation and nourish the personal connected health ecosystem. For manufacturers, standards will decrease time-to-market, reduce development costs and increase efficiencies. In particular they will enable quicker, less expensive integration to electronic medical records (EMR) or health information exchange (HIE) platforms.

As a next step, Continua Health Alliance will submit testing specifications for ITU-T H.810 for approval by ITU-T’s Study Group 16. This will allow devices to be tested for conformance to the standard.

Clint McClellan, president and chair of the board of directors of Continua Health Alliance and Senior Director of Business Development of Qualcomm Life: "The Continua design guidelines embodied by ITU-T H.810 have garnered strong industry support and their formalisation as an ITU-T Recommendation will further stimulate their global adoption, improving device interoperability and paving the way for complementary e-health standards. Certification according to the Continua design guidelines facilitates data security and is proven to significantly lower design costs and decrease integration time from three months to just three weeks."

Hamadoun I Touré, Secretary-General, ITU: "ICTs are now understood to play a pivotal role in increasing efficiency and quality in delivery of healthcare, and reducing risk and suffering, particularly among the most vulnerable communities in developing countries. Interoperability will be a key determinant of e-Health’s efficient and equitable rollout and so I applaud our membership for the quick approval of these key guidelines."

ITU’s standardization work on e-health is detailed in a new e-health portal here. A video interview with Continua Health Alliance’s Clint McClellan can be seen here. An infographic is available here.

Recommendation ITU-T H.810 focuses on the following interfaces:

  • TAN-IF: Interface between touch area network (TAN) health devices and application hosting devices (AHDs)
  • PAN-IF: Interface between personal area network (PAN) health devices and AHDs
  • LAN-IF: Interface between local area network (LAN) health devices and AHDs
  • WAN-IF: Interface between AHDs and wide area network (WAN) health devices
  • HRN-IF: Interface between WAN health devices and Health Record Network health devices – Gadget.co.za