From Cards to Portable Devices and Sensor
Networks for Wireless Personalized Health Services
Peter Pharow1, Françoise Petersen2, Asbjørn Hovstø3, Fritz Meier4, Qiang Pan5, Pekka Ruotsalainen6, Tomáš
eHealth Competence Center, Regensburg University Hospital
Zentrum für intelligente Objekte ZIO, Fraunhofer IIS-ATL
Key Laboratory of WSN and Communication, Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology
Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
Information Department, National Institute for Health and Welfare
Institut mikroelektronických aplikací (IMA) s.r.o.
Prague, Czech Republic
Abstract— Modern health care systems aim to involve both of complex information handing infrastructures. It has been a
health professionals and citizens. Citizens thus enabled to take long journey from plastic cards to chip cards to the
greater responsibility for their own healthcare. Technologies personalized portable devices that are just on the horizon .
like Internet, mobile phones, sensors, etc. enable patients to Sensors and sensor networks help to deliver health
actively participate in health care processes. Personalization of services and collect patient-related medical information.
health services based on the application of portable devices, Personalized portable (wireless) devices play an important
sensors and actuators offers a real opportunity for practicing role in the context of modern Health Information Systems
high quality wireless personalized shared care. and the pathway towards “wireless patients”.
The seminar jointly organized by EFMI WG “Personal
Today’s commonplace devices are often “security
Portable Devices (PPD)” and ISO/IEC JTC 1 “Study Group on
Sensor Networks (SGSN)” aims at identifying criteria/factors
tokens” that enable access to remote data; or they might
determining the application of personalized portable devices, carry medical information (e.g. a basic set of emergency
sensors, and actuators for wireless networked health care and data, allergies, vaccination records, specific indications such
welfare service provision. The topics are based on experiences as diabetes).
from national, EU, and international projects, emerging In addition to these “traditional” approaches, new
standardization activities, and existing and emerging routine opportunities arise from the establishment of personal
implementations in the domain of personal health care. portable wireless sensors. Specific networks for sensors can
be implemented for data capturing and data analysis.
I. INTRODUCTION Advanced standardization both from a technical and an
Cards of some form have been widely used in health care administrative perspective is underway enabling a significant
for about 40 years. The European Health Insurance Card level of harmonization and interoperability of solutions
(EHIC) is being introduced in almost all countries within the nationally, in Europe, and worldwide .
EU; an electronic version (eEHIC) is under standardization.
However, cards and other secure tokens are just single pieces
II. PERSONALIZED HEALTH SERVICES changed in a predictable way according to the current
Personal Health (pHealth) focuses on citizen-centric situation without human intervention in response to a change
personalized health service provision. Wearable or portable of situation.
technologies for personalized health (cards, chips, tokens,
mobile phones, sensors, actuators, etc.) are considered first A typical person using the profile system will have two
line communication tools . They provide: key roles – the “user” role that allows minimal (or even no
Identification management, personalization, access manual) access to profile data and the “administrator” role
that enables greater access to the controlling parameters in
control, insurance, reimbursement, and entitlement;
the profiles. It is likely that some people, for instance very
Security, privacy and trustworthiness of health young children, would not be allowed (e.g. by parents) the
service delivery; administrator role.
Secure and reliable access to vital signs (parameter Some people will have a role in managing another
data) in routine use as well as in case of emergency; person’s profile (e.g. a parent may manage the profiles of
up-to-date personal health data from everywhere their children or a carer may help a client to manage their
anytime. profile). Some people will therefore have an administrator
role for a profile that is not directly associated with them. In
Patients increasingly prefer to stay in their everyday addition to these two basic profile related roles, there is a
environment (home, work, etc.) rather than being need to identify roles within the eHealth domain, such as the
hospitalized. P-Health supports this through systems that can most basic roles:
be personalized to fit the needs of patients and carers. Client: The individual receiving the eHealth service.
Personalization, such as personal preferences and individual Carer: included in this category are both professional
profiles, can enhance a person’s trust in the system, and and informal carers such as relatives, neighbors,
make it more readily accepted. friends or volunteers providing care for the person in
A. Personalization Objectives
Personalization and effective profile management will be III. COLLABORATIVE INFORMATION PROCESSING
critical to the uptake of eHealth systems. This can range Sensor networks have great potential in providing
from simply setting an alarm volume according to the personalized services for chronic disease management,
person’s hearing abilities and the ambient noise level, to the personal wellness monitoring and physical fitness tracking.
complex tailoring of an entire p-Health environment. The Collaborative information processing (CIP), in which raw
unique approach to achieve the goals of personalized systems sensor data are collected, aggregated and fused into high-
is the combination of three important areas: standardization level information on the physical objects/world, must be
of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT); carefully designed to meet challenges in sensor networks
Human Factors; and eHealth. from both the networking and information sensing
The Human Factors and eHealth Technical Bodies of the perspectives.
European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)
 have created two specialist task forces: STF 342  A. CIP Challenges in Sensor Networks
which specifies the architecture for personalization and user The ultimate goal of sensor networks is not just
preferences in general; and STF 352  which standardizes measurement, but the creation of usable information or
the information and preferences for personalization of knowledge. Sensor networks have to meet challenges such as
eHealth systems in particular. constrained resource, incomplete and inconsistent
B. User Profiles for Personalization information from individual sensors, and deliver integrated
service provision often in an environment that is less than
The personalization is achieved by maintaining and ideal because of noise, interference and unstable
updating a profile, which depends on and is dynamically communication links.
adapted, to the individual’s context, general preferences,
physical and mental abilities, etc. The profile can then be B. Modeling of CIP in Sensor Networks
used by eHealth services and devices to ensure a consistent A three-dimension CIP classification model is proposed.
experience irrespective of context. In the Processing Level dimension, a CIP can be
The work builds on the personalization and user profile described in terms of data, feature and decision processing
concept described in the ETSI guide EG 202 325 . levels. Involved Entities in a CIP (second level) could be
C. Profile Categories and User Roles sensor modalities, processing modules, nodes, clusters, and
even subnets. The CIP can thirdly be viewed from
A profile provides information, preferences and rules Component Task dimension which depends on the specific
applicable at a given time and typically includes several use cases and the related application scenarios of sensor
inter-related data items. A profile might be such as “At networks.
Home”, “At the Hospital”, “Out”…”. In health care context, Component Tasks may include
Maximum benefit from profiles will only occur if the blood pressure/temperature measurement, respiration
values of related profile items can be simultaneously inspection, and gait analysis. In an anti-intrusion application,
target detection, classification, and tracking could be historical health record, healthcare information collected in
component tasks for security services. real-time, life-style and location information, sleeping data
and signals received by implanted nano-sensors.
C. CIP Implementation Framework This might take place without the person being aware of
Figure 1 presents a generic implementation framework of the extent of monitoring. But whilst information collected
CIP in sensor networks. In this framework, three main and pre-processed by PPDs is a necessary enabler for
entities, named Capability Declaration, Collaborative pHealth it creates new security and privacy protection needs.
Strategy Planning, and Communication Requirement It is therefore necessary to enable the subject of
Specification, are defined. information to control the use and disclosure of information
collected via his/her PPDs. The successful use of PPDs in
Information Service User
Data / Information
pHealth applications sets up new requirements both for the
security infrastructure and the information models used with
Information Service Provider PPDs.
B. NFC Mobile Phones for Health Service Personalization
Capability Collaborative Communication Collaborative One aspect of applying nano and micro technology to the
Declaration Strategy Planning Requirement
Specification Processing domain of health care in general and to the pHealth domain
Capability Evaluation Computing in particular, reflects the utilization of recent RFID, NFC and
ZigBee technologies in the large scale eID systems .
Contactless technology opens several opportunities for
misuse of personal information and generates concerns about
Communication and Information Exchange
Data / Information
privacy protection. However, not all information is
concerned with people. Other objects have to be identified,
Fig. 1 A Generic CIP Implementation Framework for Sensor Networks such as medicines, equipment in hospitals, biological
samples etc. These can be “tagged” with machine-readable
The Capability Declaration Entity (CDE) declares devices. These devices might be passive or active.
capabilities of one sensor node to other nodes. The In this context an NFC handset seems an important tool
Collaborative Strategy Planning Entity (CSPE) forms global enabling GSM connectivity and on-site secure and
or regional maps and scopes on signal and information communication with the sensors disseminated in the human’s
processing problems. With certain cost functions or utility personal environment.
measures, CSPE finds a resource-efficient solution to In the health domain, this could include GSM-enabled
achieve preferred information processing performance. “panic buttons” (for medical or other emergencies), or GSM
The Communication Requirement Specification Entity “hubs” to manage related collections of information e.g.
(CRSE) acts as interface to the underlying Communication management of groups of patients or prompt localization of
and Information Exchange layer. It defines parameters, emergency health equipment in health care settings.
languages or protocols of requirements on communication
and information exchange allowing a successful implemen- C. Intelligent Transportation System Services
tation into device and sensor networks for various purposes. Intelligent Transport Systems (ITSs) utilize combinations
of computers, communication networks as well as new
IV. APPLICATIONS ASPECTS positioning and automation technologies that collect and
Before applying personal portable devices, sensors, generate data in order to relieve traffic congestion, to ensure
actuators, and other medical equipment it is essential to safety and to protect the environment, while providing
address the human and environmental factors. These include transport related services and applications .
ensuring appropriate personalization and role management; In terms of pHealth applications, ITS facilitate and
proper information capture and processing; and the human manage the interaction of
actions to be taken in given circumstances. emergency vehicles which can be located, identified,
This will be highlighted in the following chapter. assessed and controlled using ITS;
people who employ ITS for navigation,
A. Health Service Security and Privacy in future pHealth
entertainment, travel information and their
The paradigm change from “cure” to “prevent” is under monitoring capabilities;
way. Major targets for p-health are early detection of illness external information such as reports of emergencies.
and changes in functionality, prediction and pro-active As a special aspect of tracking the position of vehicles,
prevention of diseases. By 2020 ubiquitous care is expected ITS can help identifying the position of vehicles transporting
to be reality in secondary, primary and personal care settings. tissues, organs, blood bag, drugs, medical equipment, and
Pro-active prevention and (personal) health and wellness other goods important for health services delivery.
prediction services require much wider information than is
collected and available today. D. Sensor Networks for Optimization of Blood Bag Access
The future ubiquitous PPDs make it possible to collect Wireless sensor networks (WSN) can help hospitals and
and collate any kind of personal information such a person’s ambulances increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness while
maintaining high quality care. In the project OPAL Health establish a more formal collaboration (liaison) and foresee
WSN is used to support the handling of blood bags. The joint appearances at various events in the interest of both
process relevant to p-health is the in-house process from the organizations. Both groups expressed their vast interest in
blood depot to the patient in need. joining their activities, when applicable, and invited the
Simplified, the process can be described as follows: A ETSI Technical Bodies eHealth and Human Factors (HF) to
department orders blood bags for a patient and the blood collaborate and to actively contribute.
bank supplies the department with the right amount of blood.
The department stores the blood bags until they are needed. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Some blood bags will be used. The blood bags will be sent
The seminar has jointly been organized by the EFMI WG
back to the blood bank, whether empty or not, to be disposed
“Personal Portable Devices” and the ISO/IEC JTC 1 “Study
or used again . The following benefits can be achieved
Group on Sensor Networks” supported by the European
with WSN supporting:
Telecommunications Standards Institute. The speakers thank
Further enhance patient safety through active process these organizations for their support. The authors thank their
quality management; colleagues Bernd Blobel, Paul Cheshire, Alexander Pflaum,
Avoidance of wasting blood products while Mike Pluge, Torbjørn Sund, and Tao Xing. They thank their
maintaining quality standards; institutions and companies as well as their colleagues from
Enhance availability of blood products; CEN, IEEE, ITU, ICAO, HL7, OMG, and other SDOs.
Automation or simplification of documentation. The project “OPAL Health” has been funded by the
Most countries have strict rules about handling blood German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology
products and a WSN can enforce the compliance of these under the Simobit research program (FKZ 01MB07016).
rules. The work on eHealth personalization is performed at the
European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) by
V. SEMINAR CONCLUSIONS the members of the Specialist Task Force (STF) 352 under
Personalized portable devices, sensors and actuators as the guidance of the ETSI Technical Bodies HF (Human
well as the underlying networks enable personalized health Factors) and eHealth. The task of an STF is to accelerate the
service provision. Applications from other domains stimulate standardization process in areas of strategic importance and
the respective paradigm shift also in the healthcare and in response to urgent market needs . The work on
welfare domain. The seminar on the paradigm shift from personalization is co-financed by the EC/EFTA in response
health cards to personalized devices and sensor networks for to the EC’s ICT Standardization Work Programme.
providing personal health services addressed technical,
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