What is DHACA?

DHACA is a non-profit sector-led organisation that furthers the cause of digital health and care systems in the UK and Europe, championing scalability and interoperability.

Originally known as “i3i” under the i-focus dallas project, DHACA is now an independent membership-led body of statutory and private service providers, manufacturers, software developers, consumer representative bodies, regulatory bodies, trade bodies and others in the UK who want to create an opportunity to develop large-scale, collaborative business models through the promotion of open standards, collaborative architectures, and interoperability.

Similar consortia in the mobile phone industry[2] and in digital video broadcasting[3] were crucial in the transition from a market place based on small-scale proprietary systems to large scale open-standards based services. The assisted living market is now primed for such a transition and DHACA will learn from these related consortia, using funding from the Technology Strategy Board’s dallas programme and the impetus provided by the 3 million lives (3ML) initiative to rapidly develop the DHACA programme.

There is considerable standards-related activity underway within the UK and Europe, for example by organisations such as Continua Health Alliance who aim to establish a system of interoperable personal telehealth solutions, as well as by numbers of other consortia. DHACA aims to complement existing standards-related work by establishing sector consensus on the optimal approach to addressing the broader interoperability challenges that are limiting assisted living market growth for UK industry. Examples of such challenges would be uncertainty regarding ‘What will be the impact of the Medical Devices Directive on the use of consumer devices?’ or ‘How should ID and consent be managed within services that are integrated across informal and formal care networks and across multiple devices?’. The use of national and international standards is likely to form part of the DHACA sector-agreed approach.

Relationship with other initiatives

In keeping with DHACA’s open-standards and non-profit values, DHACA aims not to compete with or duplicate the work done by others. Where we see initiatives that promote our goals, we are happy to point to them and collaborate to add value. Many of our members are active in other initiatives and trade bodies, and we recognise the benefit of cross-fertilisation of ideas.

Relationship with other i-focus workstreams

Co-ordination of the developing DHACA organisation is through the i-focus team until it becomes independent. This diagram shows how the workstreams inter-relate:diagram showing DHACA as one of three i-focus workstreams

The DHACA programme

The DHACA programme is under development and is looking at how to broaden its priorities beyond the needs and lifetime of dallas. These priorities will shape the DHACA programme following incorporation as an independent organisation and this is the point that a formal, subscription based membership structure will be launched. It is likely that DHACA activity will focus on:

  1. Supporting demand-side approaches to digital health and care, by collating and recommending common requirements specifications for procurement purposes.
  2. Shaping industry’s approach to interoperability in the assisted living market and supporting the move towards large-scale business models.
  3. Creating a DHACA kitemark to signify interoperability and to grow market awareness.
  4. Providing DHACA members with knowledge, support and partnership opportunities to exploit fully the opportunities arising in this dynamic and growing market.

DHACA – inclusivity and transparency

The members supporting DHACA represent service providers, large and small industry organisations, regulatory and standards organisations, and trade and consumer representative bodies. Co-ordination of the developing DHACA organisation is through the i-focus dallas team which is funded by the Technology Strategy Board. DHACA will work with existing standards and sector consortia, focusing on interoperability and large-scale market development. Partners recognise that DHACA will only be successful if all organisations, large and small, currently engaged or considering providing services within the assisted living market place, can feel they have a fair say in how DHACA and the market place develops. DHACA will be independent from any organisation or group of organisations, working in the best interest of all members, dealing in a fair and open way to seek consensus across the varying membership groups, providing members with knowledge and influence in a transparent way and enabling all members to shape external initiatives through a strong sector voice.


[1]      The scope of ‘assisted living’ includes telecare, telehealth, well-being and social inclusion (ICT) technologies.

[2]      The mobile phone operators initially joined together to create the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), they were then joined by manufacturers and others with an interest in the market.

[3]      The Digital Video Broadcasting project (DVB) (http://www.dvb.org/ ) and GSMA (http://www.gsma.com/aboutus/ ) are industry-led consortia in technical areas related to AL.

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