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Feb 27, 2017

Personal Connected Health: Personalized Health and Wellness through Interoperability

Estimated reading time: 3-5 minutes

As technology continues to become a part of everyday life, the use of mobile devices to maintain a state of health and wellbeing and manage illness is gaining considerable momentum.

Moving beyond the novelty of these devices to sustained more personalized use requires the integration of data from multiple sources to gain a more complete picture of a person’s state of health and, in the case of illness, care and treatment.

The promise of personal connected health will not be possible if we continue to leave data locked up in the multitude of devices used throughout a person’s life and health.

It was for this reason, a decade ago, that the first Continua Design Guidelines were published -- to support and advance interoperability by referencing industry standards and specifications, provide clarity around implementing these specifications, and ensure consistent implementation through product certification.


According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), devices such as wireless blood pressure cuffs, weight scales and a wide range of activity trackers can play a critical role in the prevention and improved management of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. The value of these devices, however, increases when they are connected. Interoperability plays an important role in creating this value.

Establishing global interoperability standards stimulates innovation and nourishes the personal connected health ecosystem.

For manufacturers, standards decrease time-to-market, reduce development costs and increase efficiencies. They enable more rapid, less expensive integration to electronic health records (EHR) or health information exchange (HIE) platforms.

EHR/HIE platforms

The Continua Design Guidelines define the interfaces that enable the secure flow of medical data to and from sensors, gateways, and end services, removing ambiguity in underlying healthcare standards and ensuring consistent implementation through product certification. Based on the use of a variety of established standards, the Guidelines have been designed to make interoperability something that can be achieved with ease.


Our founding members, including Philips, had the vision to recognize that limited interoperability is not caused by a lack of standards, but by the limited adoption of standards. Instead of reinventing the wheel by creating new standards, the Continua Design Guidelines are based on common, international technology standards defined by recognized industry groups and standards development organizations (SDOs) such as IEEE’s 11073 Personal Health Device Standards, and Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) Patient Care Device standards.


Through our ongoing collaboration with standards bodies and SDOs, the Guidelines are working to advance interoperability by referencing industry standards and specifications, providing clarity for how to implement these specifications and ensuring consistency through product certification. The Continua Design Guidelines have emerged as the only open implementation framework for authentic, end-to-end interoperability of personal connected health devices and systems.

As we continue our efforts to make health and wellness an effortless part of daily life by accelerating the widespread use of interoperability standards throughout the world, we encourage everyone in the ecosystem to join this personal connected health revolution.

About Innovation Matters

Innovation Matters delivers news, opinions and features about healthcare, and is focused on the professionals who work within the industry, as well as Philips as a cutting-edge health technology organization. From interviews with industry giants to how-to guides and features powered by Philips data, our goal is to deliver interesting, educational and entertaining content to empower and inspire all those who work in healthcare or related industries.


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Patricia (Patty) Mechael

Patricia (Patty) Mechael, PhD MHS

Executive Vice President, Personal Connected Health Alliance

Patty has a 20-year track record in global health thought leadership in personal connected and digital health, both globally and domestically.

At the Personal Connected Health Alliance (PCHAlliance), a non-profit organization formed by HIMSS, Patty's work is focused on collaborating with industry, healthcare, public policy, research and advocacy groups to convene the global personal connected health community, and to accelerate the technical, business, policy and social initiatives necessary to advance the field. PCHAlliance convenes the global personal connected health community at the annual Connected Health Conference, and publishes and promotes adoption of the Continua Design Guidelines, recognized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as the international standard for safe, secure, and reliable exchange of data to and from personal health devices.


She also serves as Principal and Policy Lead for HealthEnabled, where she has led the organization’s global thought leadership and advocacy, research and policy work in Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda, and efforts to create a Global Digital Health Index. Prior to co-founding HealthEnabled, she served as Executive Director of the mHealth Alliance.

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