The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE SA) brings together volunteers to help address global healthcare challenges.

In celebration of 2022 Women’s History Month, IEEE SA gained the insights of four female volunteers working on the interoperability of healthcare technologies.


Heather Flannery: Standardization for blockchain in healthcare

Blockchain improves efficiencies up and down value chains and across industry segments, including healthcare. However, the blockchain technical community is massively fragmented and has struggled with integration into the healthcare ecosystem.

As the Working Group Chair for IEEE P2418.6™ Standard for the Framework of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Use in Healthcare and the Life and Social Sciences, Heather Flannery led the effort to create standards to optimize the use of blockchain technology across the healthcare and life-sciences industries.

Flannery says she is extremely excited about IEEE P2418.6 being one of the earliest standards to be incorporated into IEEE SA Open, which is a comprehensive open-source development platform that’ll help the industry to create, test, manage, and deploy innovative projects in a collaborative, safe, and responsible environment. 

Florence Hudson: Securing the IoMT

The IEEE P2933™ Standard for Clinical Internet of Things (IoT) Data and Device Interoperability with TIPPSS - Trust, Identity, Privacy, Protection, Safety, Security is centered on a seemingly simple concept: Everything is hackable.

Florence Hudson, Chair of the IEEE P2933 Working Group and IEEE Senior member, strongly believes that security is essential to protect healthcare data, connected healthcare devices, and systems. She points to the US Food & Drug Administration 2017 recall of more than 450,000 pacemakers as a prime example of the critical nature of security in medtech—for some, this is a matter of life and death. By building security into IoMT devices from the ground up, she explains, you can create protection at the device level against a variety of threats.

The cornerstone of IEEE P2933 is the TIPPSS framework, which is designed to improve medical device and data security via identity verification. Hudson explains that because medical IoT devices are often physically located in a person’s body, it’s especially critical to accurately determine that those requesting access are patients’ accredited doctors.

Madhuri Gore: Enabling mobile-device platforms as pre-screening audiometric systems

Many of those with hearing disorders in rural communities and emerging economies do not have access to treatment, unfortunately, and must face numerous resulting challenges.

This is where the IEEE P2650™ Standard for Enabling Mobile Device Platforms To Be Used as Pre-Screening Audiometric System Working Group comes in.

Serving as the Vice Chair of this Working Group, Madhuri Gore works with about 80  audiologists and engineers to establish the performance, interoperability, and validation requirements of a mobile-device platform that typically consists of a mobile phone, which is used in conjunction with a portable or wearable device.

The Working Group has notably outfitted a bus to serve as a mobile clinic to provide clinical services to those in need. Gore explains that the Working Group is also focused on enhancing the existing mobile platform with headphones and other devices to help improve the first level of screening.

Dr. Ida Sim: Making health data usable to improve healthcare outcomes

As a primary-care doctor, it was not uncommon for IEEE member Ida Sim to be provided with medical data lacking context, making it unusable despite its life-saving potential. Sim chairs the IEEE 1752.1™ Standard for Mobile Health Data Working Group, which consists of over 240 members from a range of countries and professions, including regulatory agencies, clinical research, engineering research, and the sensor and healthcare industries.

In 2017, IEEE SA approached Sim, a cofounder of the nonprofit Open mHealth, about the standard she had helped develop for mHealth data. While the standard received widespread praise, it needed broader adoption by the industry. By volunteering at IEEE SA, Sim and the IEEE 1752.1 Working Group were able to help improve the alignment accuracy of aggregating data across multiple mobile health sources and reduce the costs of using this data for biomedical discovery, improving health and managing disease, as well as promote adoption of the standard.

Sim believes that data sharing starts with building a common schema using templates and then building open-source tools; this is critical, as medical data takes a complicated journey and, according to Sim, its consistency and integrity is necessary for both optimized care and research.

To learn more about how women are leading the way in the digital transformation of the healthcare industry, watch the on-demand IEEE SA Women Leading HealthTech Standards webinar, and stay updated on upcoming webinars.