Tuesday, March 20, 2007

HC2007 - Personal telehealth and Continua Alliance

I decided that I couldn't stand to listen to any more Microsoft propaganda, so skipped the first session of the morning, which was John Coulthard, Director of Healthcare, Microsoft talking about the 'Common User Interface'.

However, I did go to listen to David Whitlinger, Director of Healthcare Device Standards and Interoperability, Intel Corporation, talking about 'Personal health'. The exact title of his talk was 'Fostering independence through personal telehealth solutions' and was focused around the Continua Health Alliance (, of which he is President and Chair of the Board of Directors – so not really what was advertised. Continua started in June 2006 and brings together a large number of organisations (including medical device companies, technology and consumer electronics companies, pharmaceutical and healthcare provider companies, and the NHS joined in January 2007).

He cited the mission as being 'to establish a marketplace of interoperable personal health systems that empower people and organisations to better manage their health and wellness' – a focus on chronic disease management through devices and services.. He talked of the enabling of a 'personal health eco-system' where products from different vendors could be combined. Part of the rationale, as illustrated by one his slides, seems to be cost, with moves from high cost acute care (with possible low quality of life) through to a 'personal telehealth space' where quality of life is higher, and cost of care per day in lower (at least, in theory). Part of the shift is seen as being behavioural change. However, much of what he was saying was not new; he talked of the kinds of telehealth applications, home chronic illness and elderly monitoring, that we have been talking about and which the European Union has been finding research into, for the past 10 years and more.

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