Lack of device and system interoperability limiting use of personal
4 May 2011
Failure to address interoperability has been identified as a
major challenge for the growing personal health solutions market,
according to a report by the SmartPersonalHealth project.
The report, Enabling smart integrated care: Recommendations
for fostering greater interoperability of personal health systems,
contains recommendations for the advancement towards an
interoperable personal health ecosystem.
One of the key recommendations is that the buyers of personal health
systems need to understand and value interoperability, and demand it
“The project partners share the belief that if Europe wants to reap
the full benefit of personal health systems, health stakeholders
must understand the benefits of interoperability, and be empowered
to demand those systems from vendors”, says Veli Stroetmann,
researcher at Empirica. “Only if there are buyers who demand
interoperable systems, vendors will bring them to market.”
'Personal health system' is a summary term to connote devices and
applications, some converging from the consumer electronics world,
which have enormous potential to empower patients, improve quality
of life, and realise cost benefits for Europe’s beleaguered health
Examples include pedometers to monitor personal activity,
Wi-Fi-enabled weight scales and sensors for the homecare of patients
with chronic diseases, and smart phone apps that allow individuals
control over their fitness and diet regime.
Personal health systems are slowly coming onto the market and are
being recommended by doctors and health insurers to help us all
monitor our health and wellness. They are a key element of the
growth of eHealth in Europe.
Their full benefit can only be realised if they are interoperable —
that is, if a device from one vendor works easily and seamlessly
with other eHealth applications.
To advance their interoperability and market adoption,
- equal standing for those guidelines and standards
developed by private consortia and fora with those from official
standard making bodies;
- public/private partnerships for education and training
to promote better understanding and implementation of personal
- meaningful financial incentives that reward the
procurement of interoperable solutions; and
- legal empowerment for procurers to insert
interoperability requirements in their tenders.
"We appreciate the good work from the consortium and will take their
recommendations into consideration as we look at fostering
interoperability of personal health systems in line with the
Digital Agenda for Europe,” says Benoit Abeloos, Project Officer in
the ICT for Health unit of DG Information Society.
The SmartPersonalHealth project is a Support Action project
partially funded by the Directorate-General Information Society of
the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme.
“Enabling smart integrated care: Recommendations for fostering
greater interoperability of personal health systems” is available,
along with more information about the project and individual reports
from all stakeholder workshops, at the project website at