June 21, 2009

Continua Health Alliance

I have written (OK ranted) about standards for diabetes data. In short I want all the tools we use to manage type 1 to play nice together.

Alert YDMV reader KoHo wrote “There is an industry group out called continua connected health that does exactly what you all want.”


Well yes, really, except it is called Continua Health Alliance.

Since KoHo left that message I have been digging around learning about Continua. It will take a few post to share what I have picked up. Lets start with what they say about themselves:
(Continua is) a non-profit, open industry alliance of the finest healthcare and technology companies in the world joining together in collaboration to improve the quality of personal healthcare.

Our Mission is to establish an eco-system of interoperable personal health systems that empower people & organizations to better manage their health and wellness.
Who are these “finest healthcare and technology companies?” Way too many to list here you can get a get a feel by follow this link. Members of the type 1 community will recognize some of our key vendors including Medtronic, Roche, LifeScan, and Bayer Diabetes Care.

The Association board has members form Intel, Partners Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Roche, Cisco Systems, Medtronic, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Welch Allyn and tallying the Academy’s votes and tabulating the Oscar winners Price Waterhouse Coopers. Ok I was kidding about the Oscars. These companies are some economic big dogs. Good news for YDMV readers, the Roche board dude is from their diabetes care group.

The point I they make plain and I’m getting loud and clear is that these are serious corporate players. Here’s hoping that if the suits play nice, we’ll get tools that do too.

So much for who, how about ‘What are they gonna do for me?’ As I understand it they do a couple of things. First they establish standards on how devices for all kinds of things talk and aggregated information into common data sets. Manufacturer’s will make devices following the standards and submit them for the Continua version of the ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.’ Their efforts are then bifurcated. (Continua’s dude there actually used the word when I spoke with him. I had to stop to go figure out what he was talking about. Apparently is a cool word for split in two I should have known.) Anyway Continua spits its efforts between government and private payers to try to help them see that common standards and preventative tools are a good investment in avoiding more expensive conditions down the road.

How is it gonna work? Imagine having all kinds of devices in your house reporting on your health. Of course if you’re a type 1 household you don’t need to imagine devices they are probably on the coffee table right now. Imagine those meters, CGM, pumps, etc, talking to a central data hub. That hub then share the data in common combined reports.

That sounds really cool.

When is it going to happen? Continua would like you to see that it is happening now. Well OK - there are devices that have earned Continua certification. Exactly two. Both are Nonin Oximeters one is USB the other wireless.

No diabetes toys yet. They can’t say when. Continua does say that they expect additional certifications in the coming weeks and months. Or in other works - stay tuned.


  1. "bifurcated" ... ?? ... WTH? I'm right there with you on the confusion that word causes. Wow.

    I do like the sounds of this - it would make diabetes data so much easier to deal with.

  2. Well he actually said "Bifurcate" I took artistic license. I think I came very close to "That the Hell does that mean." GMTA. I did stop him, made him explain it and swore I would use the word every chance I get, that may be about once...

  3. Any idea if Continua will define new data/document format standards, or are they planning to use existing standards in the industry? (couldn't tell from the website)

  4. Didier

    My understading is they will build on existing standards. There is apparently an IEEE standard for BG for example.

    I have not yet found enough info to speak to it

    also the continua modle for pumps is not expected until next year

    I am also looking for data records for the life functions like food activity and carbs. I don't know if or how they will factor in.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Nevermind, I found the answer in this whitepaper: http://www.continuaalliance.org/static/binary/cms_workspace/The_Continua_Health_Alliance-_The_Impact_of_a_Personal_Telehealth_Ecosystem.pdf

    The data formats for exchange with EHR and PHR systems are:
    - HL7 PHM document standard (http://www.hl7.org/special/committees/projman/searchableProjectIndex.cfm?action=edit&ProjectNumber=209)
    - XDR document interchange (http://www.ihe.net/Technical_Framework/upload/IHE_ITI_TF_Supplement_XDR_TI_rev2.pdf

    HL7 PHM seems to be based on CDA.
    Unfortunately, a Google search yields no further information on HL7 PHM format exactly.

  7. Cool Great link thanks I appreciate anything you find

    I am at CWD's Friends for Life trying to stay connected with a phone. I don't have very good connections.

  8. I found some additional information on HL7 PHM, including the link to the specification draft from the HL7 site. This has been a good discussion, I'm summarized it on my blog along with that additional info: http://softwarepmp.blogspot.com/2009/07/continua-certification-what-standards.html

  9. Bennet thanks for calling this out. One concern I have is that 'joining' Continua is big $'s, which means that patients (even technically savvy ones) won't have any input into the process.

    Didier, HL7 stuff is hard to digest. While it's a 'standard' I'm not convinced that diabetes data standards will come out of HL7.

  10. Oh and i ran into the IEEE stuff a few years ago. IEEE technical committee 25 (TC-25) is responsible for these standards. There seem to have a site here, based out of Italy.