Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Will Your Bathroom Scale Have an 'Intel Inside' Logo?

Well it might not have an "Intel Inside" logo, but it's sure to soon have a "Continua Health Alliance" logo on it, that is if the Alliance has anything to say about it. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal discussed the concerns corporate biggies in the healthcare arena have noticed: they're having one heck of a time transporting data, especially your personal health data, between computer platforms.

Participants are reponding to an impending crisis. as a fixed number of doctors and nurses will confront an expected explosion in chronic diseases. "We've lost the battle already," says Joseph Kvedar, vice chairman in dermatology at Harvard Medical School and director of a Partners unit that offers remote health care services. "We have to move quickly."


Correction, Dr. Kvedar FOUNDED Partners telemedicine unit and has a reason to spin this story for more than altruistic reasons, I'm sure. But I digress...

It is clear that we are moving toward more and more healthcare being delivered (or at least monitored for now), at home. Intel, IBM, Cisco, Medtronic, Motorola, Samsung Electronics, Philips, Kaiser Permanente, and Partners Healthcare System, Inc. are partnering to improve interconnectivity of databases of healthcare information. You can be sure other corporations will join in soon. Interestingly, I was surprized one other "biggie" wasn't yet part of the party, but you can bet that they'll be joining soon: Microsoft. Why? Well the XBox has capabilities that can download medical information and has one of the fastest array of microprocessors going.... On a more serious note, all of these other companies have to integrate the lion's share of PC's installed at US hospitals and running doctors' offices. It wouldn't surprise me that deep in Microsoft's new Vista operating system, is the ability to transport and view this data more securely.... But first, open standards for free-flow of information from one company's database to another's have to be developed, and this is where the "Alliance" comes in. Guys working to integrate individual data fields for clinical information on pacemaker and defibrillator function, insulin pumps, graphical information like xrays and EKG's, and the like, all must be converted to a secure standard and transported via the internet.

Continua hopes ... (to publish) guidelines so manufacturers can be assured that products that they make will work with those from other firms. ... Products that meet its guidelines will sport a logo that consumers can look for, as can hospitals trying to marry their informations systems with home sensors. The venture plans to lobby regulatory agencies to develop policies that help spread the use of certified technology, and make it easier for consumers to get reimbursed from insurers for using monitoring technology in the home.

Standards ARE necessary, particularly for information as vital as healthcare data. And with a powerful lobby on the capital and with the FDA, look for a flood of new gadgets and gizmo's to be integrated with the internet, shipping your health data to a corporation, hospital, insurer, mobile phone, and electronics store near you.

--Wes

1 comment:

Emily said...

I agree that standards are necessary. It seems like a very daunting task for the Alliance to go through all the available personal health monitoring devices today to decide interoperability standards. There is more discussion of Continua going on at the Healthnex blog. (www.healthnex.org)