eHealth includes the application of ICT (information and communications technologies) across the whole range of functions that affect the health sector.
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 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.
eHealth promises to improve the quality of healthcare, reduce costs and help to foster independent living. But the success of its implementation relies on the widespread digitization of all sectors of society and, 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 therefore have a key role to play in assisting the development of new eHealth products and the growth of telemedicine.
A new key role for ehealth has developed with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into many areas where ehealth provides important use cases. The Covid-19 crisis has drawn attention to AI/eHealth potential for reducing the time required for:
- design and testing of new vaccines
- assessment of existing drugs and chemical formulae for new use against the virus
- tracking and tracing the spread of the disease
- testing followed by rapid decision making for treatments as new cases appear
- monitoring the success of isolation and lock down policies
- assessment of economic and societal costs to different pathways for coping with the virus
- enabling accurate statistical analysis of rapidly changing international situations where data such as mortality rates is collected in different formats, but it is of vital importance to make comparative assessments, supporting a rapid response to the crisis
- supporting the work of public health authorities and governments to make effective and appropriate policy decisions
Our Role & Activities
ETSI Technical Committee eHEALTH is 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.
Vital aspects to be considered by TC eHEALTH are:
- Security of systems and data
- Quality of services
- Interoperability and validation by testing
The role of our ETSI TC eHEALTH covers these primary areas:
- Collect and define Health ICT related requirements from relevant stakeholders, and input 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
- Co-ordinate Health ICT related activities with oneM2M, 3GPP and other ETSI Technical Bodies (including OCG, SmartM2M, SmartBAN, ATTM WG SDMC, CYBER, CIM, DECT, EMTEL, ERM, HF, ITS, OEU, SET, USER) to avoid duplication of effort and deliverables
- Co-ordinate activity with other European and international standards making bodies to avoid duplication of effort and deliverables
- Represent ETSI positions externally on Health ICT related issues
TC eHEALTH is working on several issues carried out in the scope of a wider collaboration between the three European Standards Organizations, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI.
TC eHEALTH published two ETSI White Papers 'The argument in favour of eHealth standardization in ETSI' (September 2018) & ‘The role of SDOs in developing standards for ICT to mitigate the impact of a pandemic’ (May 2020) and a Technical Report [TR 103 477 V1.2.1 (2020-08)] on ‘Standardization use cases for eHealth’. TC eHEALTH co-operates in ETSI in areas including Pandemic Monitoring (Contact Tracing), IoT Security, Privacy, Safety and SAREF mapping to eHealth developments.
The group launched preliminary investigations into use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in eHealth applications and works on data recording requirements (Electronic Health Record) for eHealth.
This activity has been expanded to cooperation with the Board/OCG sub-group for AI in the writing of the recent White Paper on AI and in ongoing preparations for an international workshop EU-Japan on developing AI. The eHealth group will provide Use Cases for health and is also commenting on Human Rights as applied to standards-making.
TC eHEALTH accepted to maintain the GS/GR published by the closed ISG E4P that developed a framework and consistent set of specifications for proximity tracing systems, to enable the development of applications and platforms, and to facilitate international interoperability.
The closed ISG E4P standardization framework enabled developers to build interoperable mobile apps for proximity detection and anonymous identification to allow the development of interoperable systems to automatically trace and inform potentially infected users in addition to manual notification methods, whilst preserving users’ privacy and complying with relevant Data Protection regulation.
eHealth can benefit from this standardization framework to address the application of tools in the ICT ehealth environment.
A full list of related standards in the public domain is accessible via the eHEALTH committee page.