Remote health monitoring pegged at 3 million users by 2016

A burgeoning market for healthcare peripherals and increasing smartphone processing power will result in the number of patients monitored by mobile networks to rise to 3 million by 2016, according to a new report on the mHealth sector from Juniper Research.

Remote patient monitoring, using the smartphone as a hub, will lower the cost of mHealth services by reducing the need for costly tailored devices, the report notes.

[See also: Pennsylvania hospital strengthens fight against chronic disease]

Cardiac monitoring leads

Juniper found the monitoring of cardiac outpatients is leading the field, as insurance reimbursement in the U.S. market plays a key role. However, in time the management of diabetes and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) and other chronic diseases will play an important role in the remote patient monitoring market.

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"Remote patient monitoring will step in to reduce the cost burden of unhealthy lifestyles and aging populations," report author Anthony Cox said.

However, while remote patient monitoring is already showing both positive medical outcomes and cost savings over outpatient care, more trials would still benefit mHealth in order to further convince the medical establishment of its benefits, he added.

Other key findings include:

  • Mobile Healthcare and medical app downloads will reach 44 million in 2012,  rising to 142 million in 2016
  • Clarification from the U.S.  FDA (Food and Drug Administration) on which mHealth apps will require FDA approval is still required but is expected to add further impetus to the market.       
  • Developing markets continue to benefit from SMS-based education programs and stand to benefit in medium term from app-based healthcare services such as mobile ultrasound that are now being developed        
  • Electronic health records have yet to gain significant traction even in developed markets but in the long-term will become an important component of mHealth offerings