Standard-Based Homecare Challenge

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Advances in Information and Communication Technologies, ICT, are bringing new opportunities in the field of interoperable and standard-based systems oriented to ubiquitous environments and wearable devices used for digital homecare patient telemonitoring. It is hoped that these advances are able to increase the quality and the efficiency of the care services provided. Likewise they should facilitate a home monitoring of chronic, elderly, under palliative care or have undergone surgery, leaving beds in the Hospital for patients in a more critical condition. In any case telemonitored patients could continue to live in their own homes with the subsequent advantages as more favorable environment, less need for trips to the hospital, etc.

At a time of such challenges, this chapter arises from the need to identify robust technical telemonitoring solutions that are both open and interoperable in homecare scenarios. These systems demand standardized solutions to be cost effective and to take advantage of middleware operation and interoperability. Thus, a key challenge is to design a plug-&-play and standard-based platform that, either as individual elements or as components, can be incorporated in a simple way into different homecare environments, configuring Home and Personal Area Networks (HAN and PAN).

Nowadays, there is an increasing market pressure from companies not traditionally involved in medical markets, asking for a standard for Personal Health Devices (PHD), which foresee a vast demand for Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) and applications for ubiquitous-Health (u-Health). ISO/IEEE11073 (X73) standards is adapting from Intensive Unit Care (ICU) scope, focused on the Point-Of- Care (PoC), to Personal Health Devices (PHD), focused on ubiquitous environments, implementing high quality sensors, supporting wireless technologies (e.g. Bluetooth or Zigbee) and providing a faster and more reliable communication network resources. This X73-PHD version is adequate for the homecare challenge and might appear the best-positioned international standards to reach this goal.

In this chapter, a X73 compliant homecare platform, as a proof of concept, will be completely described explaining all steps implemented as well as tradeoffs needed for obtaining a working tool. Afterthat, both advances in PHD standardization and the evolution from PoC to PHD will be addressed. Finally, future trends and open points, according our knowhow, will be proposed.