Continua Health Alliance says the first interoperable personal telehealth products, able to work with each other out ‘of the box’, will be in stores by year end.

The first standards produced by the industry Alliance, including health USB and Bluetooth standards, are due for publication in the next month.

Continua is a Intel-championed open industry alliance, that for the past two years has been fast-tracking efforts to develop standards for interoperable personal health systems and devices.

The objective is to create standards that will enable the creation of a consumer market for a wide range of diagnostic devices and monitors that will exchange data and interoperate ‘out of the box’.

Over 150 companies are now members ranging from health IT vendors, to pharma companies, telcos and consumer electronics firms. Members include England’s NHS Connecting for Health agency.

“We have a wide variety of companies working on personal health, from very large to very small,” said David Whitlinger, an Intel VP and president and chairman of the board of Continua. He said the first products with the Continua logo will be in the shops by year end.

Speaking last week at e-health 2008 in Portoroz, Slovenia, Whitlinger said: “Some 75-85% of healthcare costs are due to chronic disease management. From a commercial perspective this makes personal healthcare systems a real opportunity.”

He said of Continua Health Alliance: “My mission for the past two years has been to create a marketplace in interoperability. We’re working towards out of the box connectivity between the devices and services that make up personal telehealth.”

He said the aim of Continua was to create interoperability standards, together with accompanying guidelines. To make these standards easier to use the Alliance has created a large library of source code

But for the end users he said the standards at work should be invisible. “We want to hide all of this, so all the individual has to look for is the Continua logo on a device.”

Whitlinger said Continua divided the personal health market into three main segments: health and wellness; disease management; and ageing independently.

He said that the health and wellness sector, sometimes called the “worried well”, would be among the first to adopt personal health systems. However, he said the greater challenge would be in systems to support disease management, and ageing independently.

“Disease management is about helping a patient better manage their own health, while ageing independently is about helping people age quickly in their own home.”


Continua Health Alliance



Jon Hoeksma