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CTOs urge faster progress on e-health standards

Technology leaders push ITU to release electronic health standards efforts for reliable, interoperable solutions so individuals and medical professionals can reap digitization benefits.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

Technology leaders worldwide have called on the United Nations (U.N.) to step up progress on electronic health standards in order to achieve reliability and interoperability, which they said are crucial in enabling both patients and healthcare professionals to fully access and reap the benefits of e-health services and solutions.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the U.N. agency for information and communication technology, said in a statement earlier this week it met with 21 CTOs from leading ICT companies, all of whom have urged it to accelerate technical standardization work in the field of e-health and cooperate with other standard bodies to create secure, reliable and interoperable e-health services and solutions.

The organizations were: Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco Systems, Ericsson, Etisalat Group, Freescale, Fujitsu, Huawei, KDDI, Microsoft, Netscout Systems, Nokia Siemens Networks, NTT, Orange FT Group, Research In Motion, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telekom South Africa, Turk Telecom Group, Verizon, Vodafone Group, and ZTE.

The CTOs highlighted that only with reliability and interoperability among e-health standards can healthcare practitioners and patients access and utilize e-health information services, including remote consultation services and advanced ICT-based diagnostic procedures, ITU said in its statement. It met with the C-level executives on Oct. 25 during the ITU Telecom World 2011 in Geneva.

"E-health will bring cutting-edge medical advice to people living in remote, underserved areas, and will revolutionize access to health services in the developing world. ITU is actively working with all parties to create the frameworks for these technologies to be rolled-out on a solid bedrock of broadband deployment," said Hamadoun Touré, secretary-general of ITU, in the statement.

Besides e-health standards, disaster relief was also on the CTOs' agenda at the meeting. Referring to the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, ITU said it was urged to boost efforts in a disaster relief system that will allow individuals to notify victim's family, friends or employer, as well as a disaster relief guidance mechanism to help victims reach safety.

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