Standard issues affect telemedicine technology growth

The IEEE Standards Association, a globally recognized standards-setting body within IEEE, has been actively developing standards that contribute to telemedicine.


The IEEE 11073 family of standards enables interoperable communication between medical devices and external computer systems. They provide automatic and detailed electronic data capture of patient vital signs information and device operational data.


Yadin David, IEEE senior member and founder of the Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law in Washington, recommends healthcare providers and technologists agree on standards for minimum system performance of telemedicine networks and platforms, along with the development of a common vocabulary to describe these technologies.


Healthcare providers can look at the technical description of a heart pump or X-ray machine and understand whether it will meet their requirements in delivering quality care to a patient. But how easily can radiologists understand whether the pixel resolution or compression rate of their video equipment will enable them to see fine detail on images for accurate diagnoses.


IEEE is working to encourage the collaboration required for increased telemedicine adoption by bringing the technical experts in telemedicine together with the clinicians who must use it effectively.


In October, it will host a joint medical technology conference with the American Medical Association, 16-18 October, 2011 in Boston. A pioneering event in the industry, the AMA-IEEE Medical Technology Conference will help foster mutual understanding between the clinical and technical experts working on this issue.


The global telemedicine market is already experiencing significant momentum, and is expected to grow from $9.8 billion in 2010 to $23 billion in 2015, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.6 percent over the next several years, according to BCC Research.


These innovations could be beneficial in developing countries such as India where 70 percent of the country’s population resides in rural areas compared to 90 percent of the healthcare centers located in urban areas of the country.


Telemedicine is technologically ready to address the demand for access to health services in developing nations and remote areas around the world, according to IEEE.


However, use of telemedicine will require collaboration between technologists and clinicians to ensure it delivers on its promises in the real world – millions more people reached, with measurably better outcomes for those patients.


From faster wireless networks to mobile imaging applications to biosensors, the technologies for delivering telemedicine services are certainly there,” said Yongmin Kim, IEEE Fellow and professor of bioengineering and electrical engineering at the University of Washington.


But advancing telemedicine through technology innovation alone is not enough.  We now need to make it easier for the healthcare providers to embrace and apply these technologies in diverse medical environments,” Kim added.


By Team
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