Tens of billions of dollars a year reportedly slip through the cracks in interoperability and connectivity among medical devices in the United States alone, but it now appears there exists new interest to close those gaps in the global web of healthcare, says the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA).
The ability for health information to be seamlessly shared among devices and enterprise health systems is key to improving patient safety, managing individual health and lowering healthcare costs. Indeed, "Driving Medical Interoperability to Improve Care and Lower Costs" is on the agenda at the mHealth Summit external link this week (December 8-11) in Washington, affirming that interoperability is essential to creating a sustainable connected health ecosystem.
The inability of multi-vendor medical devices to exchange information across primarily proprietary interfaces has been identified as a prime culprit in the inefficiencies and waste in healthcare worldwide.
The IEEE-SA reports strong interest among industry and government to put in place the standards-based foundation that would support the medical-device interoperabiity and communications that the global healthcare community seeks.
Earlier this year, for example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognized interoperability-related standards in its guidance to the healthcare industry. Twelve such standards that the FDA recognized are among the IEEE 11073™ family, which is designed to help healthcare product vendors and integrators create interoperable devices and systems for disease management, health and fitness and independent living that can help save lives and improve quality of life for people worldwide.
By supporting interoperable communications among both traditional medical devices and personal health devices, the IEEE 11073 standards assist in the support of patients living independently with chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, high blood pressure, stroke and atrial fibrillation.
Driven by its industry participants to intensify its efforts in this field, the IEEE-SA earlier this year signed a collaborative agreement with Continua Health Alliance to help accelerate and broaden the adoption of globally relevant standards-based technologies for the healthcare arena. The collaborative agreement is intended to provide an environment for like-minded organisations and individuals to come together quickly, effectively and economically to collaborate on standards-based solutions for the global healthcare arena to the benefit of equipment manufacturers, governments and consumers worldwide.
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