Leading Health and Technology Companies form Alliance

Given the rise of chronic conditions and the rapid aging of the population, the methods of managing health will need to shift from traditional institutional settings to peoples' everyday environments, including the home. To enable this shift, a group of technology, healthcare and fitness companies have formed the Continua Health Alliance, an open industry group that will establish an ecosystem of connected personal health and fitness products and services, making it possible for patients, caregivers and healthcare providers to more proactively address ongoing healthcare needs.

Founding members of the group include BodyMedia, Cisco Systems, GE Healthcare, IBM, Intel Corporation, Kaiser Permanente, Medtronic, Motorola, Nonin, Omron Healthcare, Panasonic (Matsushita Electric), Partners HealthCare, Polar Electro, Royal Philips Electronics, RMD Networks, Samsung Electronics, Sharp, The Tunstall Group, Welch Allyn and Zensys.

"First and foremost, this alliance is about helping to empower people with the information they need to better manage their health and the health of their loved ones," said David Whitlinger, Chairman of the Continua Health Alliance and Director of Healthcare Device Standards in Intel's Digital Health Group. "We are creating an organization where several seemingly disparate industries can work together to combine their products and services through connectivity standards and provide millions of people with the tools they need to better manage their health and the health of their families."

The Continua Health Alliance efforts will be focused on three major categories: chronic disease management, monitoring the health and healthcare needs of aging people and proactive health and fitness. By enabling a network of readily connected health and medical devices, people with diabetes or other chronic diseases will be able to share glucose-levels and other vital sign information with their doctors. Adult children will be able to remotely watch over their aging parents and proactively help them manage safely in their own homes. Diet and fitness conscious individuals will also be able to seamlessly share their weight and exercise data with fitness consultants through the Internet.

"The benefits of interoperability go beyond improved healthcare for consumers. It provides the opportunity for a more cost effective and efficient health care system," said Marc Holland, program director, Health Provider Research, Health Industry Insights. "Medical and health device manufacturers can more rapidly develop interoperable devices and services using industry-developed connectivity standards. And healthcare providers can offer better quality care through personalized health solutions assembled from a rich marketplace of interoperable healthcare devices and services."

The Continua design guidelines will not create new networking standards, but will be based on proven connectivity standards. Proven connectivity standards that will be considered include Bluetooth®, USB, Wi-Fi™, Z-Wave™ and ZigBee™, among other established transports. The group plans to deliver the guidelines within the next 18 months.

The group also intends to establish a product certification program with a consumer recognizable logo signifying the promise of interoperability with other certified products. Products made under Continua guidelines will provide consumers with increased assurance of interoperability among devices, enabling them to more easily share information with care givers and service providers.

Through collaborations with government agencies and others, the alliance will work to provide guidelines for the effective management of diverse products and services from a global network of vendors.

To learn more about the Continua Health Alliance and its participating companies and to find out how to become a member, visit www.continuaalliance.org.

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