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New HIMSS unit to focus on mobile, home-health market


By Joseph Conn
Posted: February 24, 2014 - 8:30 am ET
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An arm of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society devoted to promoting mobile health information technology has merged with the Continua Health Alliance, a consortium of home healthcare device manufacturers and users.

The deal creates a new not-for-profit unit of HIMSS focused on the globally growing home and mobile health IT market.

In the U.S., the advent of new performance-based healthcare payment and care delivery models such as accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes will catalyze the need for interoperability between home monitoring devices and the information technology systems of mainline healthcare organizations, according to Jeremy Bonfini, executive vice president of the new Personal Connected Health Alliance.

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This new limited liability corporation, with HIMSS as the sole shareholder, will be responsible for Continua and the mHealth Summit, HIMSS' annual mobile health technology conference. “There's been an incredible change in the way providers have been incentivized,” Bonfini said. “With the Affordable Care Act, providers and the personal health space are starting to converge. Continua is very much focused on the personal health space.” The merger gives Continua a “home” at HIMSS, and Continua's global presence will contribute to HIMSS' international outreach, Bonfini said. The National Health Service in the U.K. “has long been a member of Continua” and Denmark is “a strong supporter,” with leaders of national healthcare systems in the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi giving “strong consideration” to mandating the use of Continua certified equipment, he said. Continua was founded in June 2006 in San Francisco by 22 companies and provider organizations to facilitate the convergence of consumer electronics and healthcare. Their goal was to adopt a set of voluntary consensus guidelines for the transmission of data created by digital home health devices such as blood pressure cuffs, pulse oximeters, blood glucose monitors, spirometers and weigh scales, and then establish a method for testing and certifying devices against those interoperability standards. Today, Continua claims more than 240 member companies and its website lists 78 home health products tested and certified as compatible with other devices and networks using its guidelines. Target uses for these devices are to promote consumer health and wellness, manage chronic conditions and enable independent living for the elderly. About 70% of consumers “expressed some interest in using wireless devices to communicate with their physicians and 36% said these devices “would be an ideal way of transmitting medical data,” according to a Consumer Electronics Association survey referenced on the Continua website. Worldwide, 500 million consumers and healthcare providers will use a mobile health app within the next two years, according to a 2013 policy brief on mobile health by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Home health monitoring systems will be in ubiquitous use within five years or less, several industry experts predict. The HIMSS board approved the mHealth Summit and Continua merger in December, HIMSS President and CEO Stephen Lieber said. The Continua board gave final approval Sunday during preliminary meetings of the annual HIMSS Convention & Exhibition in Orlando, Fla. No money changed hands in the merger, Lieber said. More Live@HIMSS Coverage


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