Updated Continua guidelines call for enhanced device communication, security

Continua Health Alliance, continuing its work to make wireless and mobile devices interoperable, recently released its latest technical guidelines for patient sensors and data transmission security.

"Manufacturers should be using these standards as they create or develop new products. These are things you, the consumer, should be asking vendors to provide" in their next iteration, app or device, Continua executive director Chuck Parker tells FierceMobileHealthcare.

The new 2011 Design Guidelines include:

Bluetooth low-energy temperatures sensor device profile. This is the first of a series of Bluetooth low-energy standards that will come out in the months ahead, Parker says. This initial standard applies to Bluetooth-enabled thermometer/temperature sensors that patients can wear, and which transmit temperature data to another source. The new sensors essentially "wake up, transmit the data, then turn back off," Parker adds, so they use far less energy. The new battery can last up to a year, rather than the standard two weeks for most current Bluetooth batteries.

• ZigBee networking functionality for single sensor-local area network (Sensor-LAN) devices to communicate with multiple application hosting devices (AHDs) at the same time. This standard essentially allows a single wireless device, such as a scale or blood pressure cuff, to communicate with multiple "host" or reporting systems, Parker says. For example, a wireless weight scale in a hospital could be used to collect data on multiple patients and then transmit that data to multiple sources, such as physicians or monitoring services.

Security guidelines. The new guidelines include 1) improved user identification guidance on the Wide Area Network (WAN) interface, and 2) improved consent management and non-repudiation on the Health Record Network (HRN) interface. Together the two standards allow wireless medical devices to automatically identify the patients using them, and protect the data they collect during transmission.

The idea is to provide more of a machine-to-machine communication, with automatic verification of the user's identity and to prevent patients from entering or altering data as it's being transmitted, Parker says. It also gives physicians a higher comfort threshold that the data being transmitted is correct, and reliable.

To learn more:
- read the Continua press release

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