Continua Unveils Key Components of Health Market Guidelines

PORTLAND, OR /BUSINESS WIRE/ -- The Continua Health Alliance, a group of technology, medical device, and health and fitness industry leaders, unveiled the key components of its first set of technical guidelines to help establish a market 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.

The first set of guidelines, due out early 2008, are based on proven connectivity standards and will help to increase assurance of interoperability between devices, enabling consumers to share information with caregivers and service providers more easily. Manufacturers of products that meet these guidelines will be permitted to use the Continua Health Alliance certification logo to promote their products. The logo will clearly identify certified products, making it easy for purchasers to choose products that work together seamlessly.

"Continua is committed to empowering consumers and patients worldwide, to take an active role in their own care through the use of technology," said Dave Whitlinger, Chairman of the Continua Health Alliance. "Today, more than 1 billion people worldwide are overweight, and more than 600 million have chronic diseases. Continua's membership will utilize the Version One Guidelines to create connected health devices and services that provide individuals the tools they need to proactively manage their health."

In addition to outlining the new elements of the guidelines, the Continua Health Alliance also announced it is working with Abt Associates Inc. on a unique research project targeting reimbursement policy. Abt Associates will assist in cataloging, synthesizing, and assessing all telehealth studies and the peer-reviewed cost-effectiveness literature. This work will help Continua determine strategies for initiating increasing telehealth cost effectiveness and quality-improvement studies, as well as for securing reimbursement for telehealth products and services.

Healthy Progress
In its first year, Continua has grown from 22 to 133 member companies, with its efforts focused on a continuum of life and care methods, particularly promoting chronic-disease management, healthy independence for the aging, and proactive health and fitness. Today's announcement is a benchmark in the one-year-old Alliance's progress toward creating an ecosystem of personal telehealth solutions. Interoperability allows patients to use the best devices for their individual needs and provides immediate access to health information. These standards recognize devices that can work together and communicate in each of these three fields, helping maximize positive health outcomes.

In the field of chronic disease management, a network of readily connected health and medical devices will allow people with diabetes or other chronic diseases to share vital information with their doctors. These interoperable devices include blood glucose tests, blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, and other basic vital sign monitors. Devices such as motion sensors, medication reminders, and emergency response services ease the burden on family and professionals who provide care for the aging. These technologies proactively aid the secure, healthy independence of the aging in their own homes. Diet and fitness conscious individuals will also be able to seamlessly share their weight and exercise data with fitness consultants by using devices such as heart rate monitors, connected fitness equipment, and activity monitors. Additionally, Continua-certified data transport hardware and software will further enhance broad-based interoperability of the devices.

About Version One Standards
The Continua Version One standards represent a marriage of well-developed healthcare informatics data standards with proven consumer electronic technologies. The integration provides the specifications necessary to enable connectivity across a wide variety of personal telehealth devices and services. The Version One standards include the Bluetooth Medical Device Profile Specification (Bluetooth SIG), USB Personal Health Device Specification (USB Forum), ISO/IEEE 11073 Personal Health Device Specifications (IEEE), and Health Level 7 for integration with standards-based electronic health records. The comprehensive set of guidelines will help improve the quality of care by empowering consumers and their healthcare providers to more simply share information through common communication channels, such as telephones, cell phones, PCs, TV set top boxes, and other dedicated health devices.

About Continua Health Alliance
Continua was launched in June of 2006 to address the lifestyle, health, and demographic trends contributing to the skyrocketing costs of healthcare. Since its launch, Continua has added 105 new corporate strategic partners, reaching a total of 133 member companies.

The Continua Health Alliance was established to find methods to address the rise of chronic health conditions due to the rapid aging of the population and the need to shift healthcare from traditional institutional settings to impacting consumers' everyday lives, particularly in the home. Promoting members include A&D Medical, ActiveHealth Management, Aetna, Ascension Health, AstraZeneca, Avita, Baxter, Bayer HealthCare, BodyMedia, Boston Scientific, Cisco, Dell, Dynastream Innovations, General Electric, Healthe, IBM, iMetrikus, Intel, Kaiser Permanente, Konami, Living Independently Group, Medtronic, MicroLife, Nautilus, NHS Connecting for Health, Nokia, Nonin, Omron Healthcare, Oracle, Panasonic (Matsushita Electric), Center for Connected Health, Pfizer, Philips, Polar, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, RMD Networks, Roche, Samsung, Sharp, Siemens, Sprint, St. Jude Medical, TechnoGym, Telus, Texas Instruments, Tunstall, Welch Allyn, and Zydacron. All members of the group share a vision of establishing an ecosystem of connected personal health and fitness products and services, making it possible for patients, caregivers, and health care providers to more proactively address ongoing healthcare needs.

To learn more about the Continua Health Alliance and its participating companies and to find out how to become a member, visit the alliance's Web site.

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