Technical Committee (TC) eHEALTH Activity Report 2023

Chair: Suno Wood, eG4U

Responsible for coordinating ETSI’s activities in the eHealth domain, identifying gaps where further standardization activities might be required and addressing those gaps which are not the responsibility of other ETSI bodies.

eHealth includes the application of ICT (information and communications technologies) across the whole range of functions that affect the health sector. It promises to improve the quality of healthcare, reduce costs and help to foster independent living. However its successful implementation relies on the widespread digitization of all sectors of society.

Although an increasing number of patients enjoy access services such as telecare and telemonitoring, the use of telemedicine is still very limited. One of the problems currently hindering the development of the virtual clinic is a lack of interoperability. Standards thus have a key role to play in assisting the development of new eHealth products and services.

eHealth systems include tools for health authorities and professionals, from national to international, from the doctor to the hospital manager, nurses, data processing specialists, social security administrators and - of course - the patients, as well as patient-centric health systems for individuals and the community. The primary concern is to support diagnosis and treatment but ICT systems are also essential to the financial management and efficient daily operation of any state or privately-run health care provider. Examples include health information networks, electronic health records, telemedicine services, personal wearable and portable communicable systems including those for medical implants, health portals, and many other ICT-based tools assisting disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, health monitoring and lifestyle management.

A further critical role for eHealth is emerging with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into many areas where eHealth presents important use cases. In particular the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the potential of AI/eHealth in areas including: the design and testing of new vaccines; tracking and tracing the spread of disease; rapid decision making for treatments as new cases appear; monitoring the success of isolation and lock down policies, and an assessment of economic and societal costs; and supporting the work of public health authorities and governments to make effective policy decisions.

TC eHEALTH has primary responsibility to: 

  • collect and define Health ICT related requirements from relevant stakeholders and to input the requirements to the concerned ETSI Technical Bodies; 
  • identify gaps, where existing ETSI standards do not fulfil the Health ICT requirements, and suggest further standardization activities to fill those gaps;
  • develop Health ICT related deliverables in all areas not covered by existing system specific and horizontal Technical Bodies or other SDOs; 
  • ensure the co-ordination of Health ICT related activities with the relevant ETSI Technical Bodies in order to avoid duplication of effort and deliverables; 
  • ensure that activities within TC eHEALTH are co-ordinated with other European and International Standards making bodies to avoid duplication of effort;
  • co-ordinate and represent ETSI positions on Health ICT related issues.

Within ETSI, TC eHEALTH collaborates directly with several other technical bodies including:

  • TC SmartM2M and oneM2M on SAREF for eHealth and Ageing Well and on Asynchronous Contact Tracing (in the context of COVID-19 crisis and IoT)
  • TC SmartBAN SAREF for Wearables & SAREF for eHealth and Ageing Well
  • TC CYBER on Security, Safety and Privacy
  • TC ERM TG30, SC USER, TC HF, TC ATTM (SDMC and AT2), ISG OEU (eG4U/Eurocities) and ISG CIM +every ETSI stakeholder concerned by eHEALTH

The committee also contributes to ETSI’s OCG AI on eHealth.

In 2023 TC eHEALTH published the latest revision of its Technical Report TR 103 477 V1.3.1, that identifies and analyses use cases in the eHealth domain in order to drive future standardization efforts. Its scope includes examples from existing and completed EU Research projects, and from current eHealth and Health industry practices.

Meanwhile progress continued on three other deliverables:

Currently in development, a new Technical Report describes a presence preserving proximity function trigger (3PFT). Its goal is the design of a multi-input privacy protected presence-aware function triggering framework for use on smartphones and other IoT-devices to allow widespread deployment for a variety of eHealth uses (e.g. logistics control, venue navigation, diary management) to aid visitors when using a health facility.

A new ETSI Guide is also in progress. This will discuss the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an accelerator for eHealth processing, with specific consideration of ethical, security and privacy issues surround the use of AI in an eHealth context.

The committee is meanwhile developing an ETSI Specification on data recording requirements for eHealth in order to identify and specify requirements for recording eHealth events, namely those from ICT based eHealth devices and from health practitioners. Its purpose is to specify a normative framework for ensuring events/transactions related to a patient are recorded accurately by identifiable entities (devices or health professionals), and made available with minimum delay to other health professionals. 

See the full of eHEALTH Work Items currently in development here.