The industry group responsible for the advancement and adoption of USB technology (warning: obnoxious sound track) has created a health care working group. Apparently patterned on the Continua Health Alliance approach, the group is targeting health and wellness, disease management and aging independently market segments. Noted members are also all Continua members: Cisco, Intel, Nonin, and Welch Allyn. From the press release (pdf).

The group's initial goal is to develop a USB Personal Healthcare Device Class specification. The new specification will enable health-related devices, such as blood pressure cuffs and exercise watches, to connect via USB to consumer electronics products, such as PCs and health appliances. Interoperability of health-related devices and consumer electronic products will facilitate the communications between patient and doctor, individual and fitness coach, or elderly person and remote caregiver.

In a previous post, the security threats posed by USB devices to personal health records (PHRs) were described. Many medical devices today are based on Windows CE because of the many communications services built into the operating system. A USB drive can carry executable code that could install a Trojan horse program or corrupt data. How (or if) medical devices will mitigate this risk will be interesting to see.

The good news is that USB connectivity is pretty crude and poorly suited for most medical device connectivity applications and should be eclipsed by Ethernet and wireless LANs.

Pictured right is a kanitume USB drive.

[Hat tip: Health Data Management]