Lack of Interoperability Limits Personal Health Solutions

The report finds that lack of interoperability among products, devices and services from various vendors is limiting the number of viable healthcare solutions available on the market. One of its key points is that the buyers of personal health solutions need to demand that vendors create devices that work easily and seamlessly with other eHealth applications. Continua is working to lead this change, by developing design guidelines to help device and system manufacturers ensure that their products work together smoothly so consumers can purchase personal connected health products with confidence.

SmartPersonalHealth project publishes final report and recommendations

Brussels 26 April 2011.  Failure to address interoperability has been identified as a major challenge for the growing personal health solutions market, states the conclusions of the SmartPersonalHealth project report published today. The report, “Enabling smart integrated care: Recommendations for fostering greater interoperability of personal health systems” contains recommendations for the advancement towards an interoperable personal health ecosystem.

One of the key recommendations is that the buyers of personal health solutions need to understand and value interoperability, and demand it from vendors.

“The project partners share the belief that if Europe wants to reap the full benefit of personal health systems, health stakeholders must understand the benefits of interoperability, and be empowered to demand those systems from vendors”, says Veli Stroetmann, researcher at Empirica. “Only if there are buyers who demand interoperable systems, vendors will bring them to market.”

“Personal health systems” are a summary term to connote devices and applications, some converging from the consumer electronics world, which have enormous potential to empower patients, improve quality of life, and realise cost benefits for Europe’s beleaguered health systems.  Examples include pedometers to monitor personal activity, Wi-Fi enabled weight scales and sensors for the homecare of patients with chronic diseases, and smart phone apps that allow individuals control over their fitness and diet regime.  Personal health systems are slowly coming onto the market and are being recommended by doctors and health insurers to help us all monitor our health and wellness.  They are a key element of the growth of eHealth in Europe.

Their full benefit can only be realised if they are interoperable – that is, if a device from one vendor works easily and seamlessly with other eHealth applications.  To advance their interoperability and market adoption, SmartPersonalHealth recommends

  • equal standing for those guidelines and standards developed by private consortia and fora with those from official standard making bodies;
  • public/private partnerships for education and training to promote better understanding and implementation of personal health systems;
  • meaningful financial incentives that reward the procurement of interoperable solutions; and
  • legal empowerment for procurers to insert interoperability requirements in their tenders.

“We appreciate the good work from the consortium and will take their recommendations into consideration as we look at fostering  interoperability of personal health systems in line with the Digital Agenda for Europe,” says Benoit Abeloos, Project Officer in the ICT for Health unit of DG Information Society.

“Enabling smart integrated care: Recommendations for fostering greater interoperability of personal health systems” is available, along with more information about the project and individual reports from all stakeholder workshops, at the project website at http://sph.continuaalliance.org.

SmartPersonalHealth was a project developed by Continua Alliance, the European Telecommunication Standards Institute, Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise, Empirica, coordinated by Edelman | The Centre.

About the partners in SmartPersonalHealth Project

The SmartPersonalHealth project is a Support Action project partially funded by the Directorate-General Information Society of the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme.

Continua Alliance is the global industry consortium to promote the interoperability of PHS devices and systems counting more than 200 technology, medical device and health care members worldwide.

ETSI, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, produces globally applicable standards for Information & Communications Technologies. ETSI is recognised as an official European Standards Organisation by the European Union, enabling valuable access to European markets.

IHE, Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise, is a global initiative involving more than 300 stakeholders (healthcare professional associations, industry, health authorities, etc.), the worldwide reference organisation for the interoperability of healthcare information systems and devices.

Empirica is a Bonn based European research institute with a broad understanding of political, business and socio-economic issues surrounding eServices and telematics applications.

Edelman | The Centre, coordinating the project, is a European consultancy, with expertise in public affairs, communication and events organisation.

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2 Comments

  • Hi, that’s very true… lack of interoperability is limiting personal health solutions. There has to be interoperability among products, devices and services from various vendors so that viable healthcare solutions can be developed for the healthcare industry.

  • I would to have the option of demanding systems instead of systems being demanded by type 1. Veli, I don’t think you get it, that kind of influence exists in discretionary markets, where folks can choose not to use products. Type 1 diabetics don’t have the option of not choosing a glucose meter.

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