A group of 20 technology, health care and wellness companies, including by Intel, GE, IBM, Kaiser and Partners Health, have formed Continua Health Alliance to promote and enable shifting the management of chronic health conditions from insitutions to everyday environments, including the home. Continua is 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.
The takeaway: There are many people in insitutional type settings, or who are limited in the quality of their home life or are limited in where they can go, becuase the services or tools don’t exist, are in limited supply, or are too costly. Technology holds much promise for many seemingly simple tasks – high grade, balanced frozen meals that a robotic device will remove from a freezer, heat up – and set on a table. RFID devices to warn when food is aging or has gone bad. Remote sensors, devices and tools that can monitor medication compliance, webcams for two way conversations with family and physicians and so on. The number of people with chronic conditions keeps growing, they are living longer, and there may not be enough aides, nurses, therapists, social workers and physicians to care for everyone. Besides – being at home, self-sufficient with some tools (we use hammers and Swifters today) is a better solution.
“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 group 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.