Breakthrough in medical device interoperability with Vena wireless
31 March 2008
Cambridge Consultants has announced the first demonstration of the
emerging industry standards for medical device interoperability. The
'Vena' platform is a breakthrough software solution on a single chip
that allows medical devices such as blood pressure monitors to transmit
The development gives consumers, especially those with chronic
conditions, the ability to monitor their own health accurately,
systematically and independently.
Cambridge Consultants' vision
of a consumer wrist-worn blood pressure monitor featuring the
Vena platform. The device would be easy to slip on periodically
during the week and then would wirelessly transfer recorded data
back to a central monitor.
The platform uses low-cost wireless technology and will allow devices
to deliver medical readings to a central monitor located in the home, or
even to an online health record such as Google Health or Microsoft
Health Vault. The Vena software solution can be added to a medical
device using hardware with a potential cost of less than US$10 at the
appropriate volumes and could be available in medical devices by the end
of 2008, according to Cambridge Consultants.
Online health services allow a consumer to manage their own health
and fitness data securely. Controlling when and with whom the data is
shared offers the potential to improve the understanding and management
of their health.
"Due to both an increasingly independent mindset and time-poor
healthcare providers, consumers are taking an increasingly active part
in monitoring and managing their health," said Paul Williamson, Head of
Wireless Medical, Cambridge Consultants. "This first successful
demonstration of the platform, combined with its affordability, and
compatibility, opens up a whole vista of possibilities in the way health
is monitored and treated. This platform takes us one step closer to all
the possibilities of next-generation healthcare."
For the first time, the Vena platform embeds both the emerging
IEEE11073 standard, which ensures compatibility of data exchanged
between different types of devices, and the emerging Bluetooth Medical
Device Profile, optimised for the secure transport of medical data, onto
the single chip.
Successfully concept tested with a pulse oximeter and weighing
scales, the platform will be expanded to include other types of device
including blood pressure monitors. The platform is also capable of
delivering a complete display, which means that device manufacturers now
simply need to add their sensor of choice and the device is
The Vena platform can be used with multiple devices, providing a
connection to online records through a monitoring station, home PC or
set-top box. In addition to Bluetooth, the platform incorporates
complete support for a range of other connections. Full TCP
(transmission control protocol) implementation allows Wi-Fi or Ethernet
connections. Cable connections via UART (universal asynchronous
receiver/transmitter) or USB can also be added. The platform can even be
used to transmit data via mobile phone for health and fitness
applications on the move.
"The Vena platform can be easily built into devices at any stage of
the design or production process," said Paul Williamson. "This ease of
implementation makes it possible that medical devices with wireless
capability could be commercially available before the end of 2008."
About IEEE 11073
IEEE 11073 Personal Health Data is a framework of standards that
addresses transport-independent application and information profiles
between personal telehealth devices and monitors / managers (e.g. health
appliance, set top box, cell phone, personal computer). Device profiles
include pulse oximeter, blood pressure monitor, weighing scale, and
A Bluetooth profile defines how different applications use Bluetooth
wireless technology to set up a connection and exchange data. The
Medical Devices Working Group of the Bluetooth SIG developed the
Bluetooth medical device protocol to ensure that devices in the medical
environment can transfer data between devices in a secure and well
defined way via Bluetooth wireless technology.