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Workshop on Standardization in E-Health
Geneva, 23-25 May 2003


Economic Benefits of Standardization

Makoto Ishikawa
Associate Professor of Education
Faculty of Education, Kyoto University of Education

In the field of e-health, the foundation for standardization arises from compatibility of products and systems, which are common to all industries exploiting so-called network externality. Various economic benefits arise from standardization. Standardization brings both tangible and intangible benefits to manufacturers. These are summarized as follows: (1) potential competitive advantage through standards; (2) cost reduction; (3) improvements in the supplier/client relationship; (4) R&D activities, and (5) intellectual property through standards. Businesses are motivated to participate in standardization for these reasons.

Standardization also brings benefits to users. Here the term "users" includes medical doctors, nurses, and staff in medical institutions who use e-health products/systems. Benefits are summarized as follows: (1) price reduction of products/systems; (2) selection of suppliers in the market; (3) the facilitation of training for the operation of products/systems; (4) greater availability of complementary goods in the market. These benefits are brought by standards and users are rather passive to standardization

Japanese Association of Healthcare Information System Industry (JAHIS) promotes the standardization of e-health in Japan. Its major members are computer manufacturers, system integrators, and software houses, such as Toshiba Corp., Hitachi Ltd., Mitsubishi Electric Corp., and NEC Corp. Until now JAHIS has developed nine models (JAHIS standard), which the hospital information model and the elderly care model. These models are available in Japan. JAHIS also participates in the Working Group of ISO/TC215 (Healthcare Informatics) as a Japanese representative, and it contributes to the promotion of international standards.

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