SAN JOSE, Calif. The Continua Health Alliance has defined an initial set of standards including versions of Bluetooth and USB to enable networked consumer health care systems and services. The ad hoc group, which now includes more than 130 members, will roll out early next year a logo and compliance program based on its first-generation specifications.
Continua includes a who's who list of medical device companies that see a clear need for home health care systems. But it is likely to take several years to get insurance companies to provide reimbursement for those devices and to develop standards supporting a full range of technology options.
"We won't have enough health care workers and hospital beds to manage all the demand that is coming in the future," said David Whitlinger, president of Continua and a director of heath care standards in Intel's digital health group. "We believe personal tele-health systems will be a key component of the new, scalable delivery mechanisms we need to bring health care back to the home," he added.
The consumer systems can be used to monitor in the home as many as 860 million chronic disease patients. They will also be employed to track a rising population of elderly people living at home. In addition, many devices will be used for home fitness and wellness programs.
In its initial guidelines to be published in early 2008, Continua defines specific versions of Bluetooth and USB to act as wireless and wired transports linking home health care devices such as blood pressure monitors, glucose meters and a wide variety of other sensors and monitors. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group and the USB Implementers Forum are separately developing the personal health profiles of those interconnects, work that both groups expect to complete by the end of the year.
Separately, Continua members have adapted standards from the Health Level 7 group to define data, messaging and security protocols for sending personal health data to remote databases. The group is also using about ten data formats established by the IEEE 11073 medical electronics group.