ITU standard enables health data exchange, advances e-health standards

March 17, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
ITU (International Telecommunications Union) has offered first stage approval to a specification enabling an exchange of multimedia health data between a health provider, a controlling function and patient. The organisation says the this move follows calls for increased global coordination of standards enabling e-health.

The new standard will enable different e-health systems to smoothly exchange patient health data in both low- and high-resource settings, making it ideal for applications in both developed and developing countries.

e-Health experts explain that a combination of a common data definition with connectivity across different systems – ranging from the personal health and point-of-care devices described in Recommendation ITU-T H.810 to a range of health management back-ends – will provide simple, secure and scalable interoperability.

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré noted, “In addition to technical issues, discussions on e-health encompass legal, ethical, cultural, economic and regional aspects. We have seen increased impetus by the e-health community to engage with ITU in order to facilitate a rapid rollout of these technologies that have such a valuable role to play in bolstering global health initiatives.”

The development of Recommendation ITU-T H.860, “Multimedia e-health data exchange services: Architecture, services and data dictionary” was led by ITU Member Platform Health , a non-profit organisation, based on successful reference implementations in a range of countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

The common health schema of Recommendation ITU-T H.860 is applicable to a wide spectrum of diseases (non-communicable, communicable, maternal/child, trauma, etc.), interventions (preventive, curative, palliative), and health IT systems (from simple standalone, to integrated care, web services and mobile applications).

The ITU-T-H.860 standard sets-out:

Common Health Data Schema (made-up of existing data standards such as ICD-10, CPT-4/5, LOINC, SNOMED, etc.)

Collaborative Development Framework (Governance)

Basic Service Architecture (enabling data security and scalability)

ITU; www.itu.int