Report: Wireless medtech market driven more by consumers than telehealth

By Erin McCann
10:38 AM

Self-monitoring medical devices utlized by the consumer, rather than those used in a managed telehealth setting, will provide the largest market for wireless health technologies, according to IMS Research. An estimated 50 million wireless health devices will be distributed for consumer monitoring applications over the next five years, with a fewer number of devices being used by telehealth patients.

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IMS Research, a market research group recently acquired by IHS Inc., published its latest report, Wireless Opportunities in Health and Wellness Monitoring – 2012 Edition, showing that consumer-purchased medical devices with technologies like Bluetooth low energy and ANT+ that self-monitor health will account for more than 80 percent of all wireless medical devices come 2016.

The demand for self-monitoring one’s health is growing much faster than that for telehealth implementation. Even without healthcare systems that are adapted for this, consumers want the ability to monitor and manage their own health at home. The report projects, however, that the number of wireless devices utilized in managed telehealth programs will increase from 5 percent in 2011, to 20 percent in 2016 as telehealth deployment grows.

[See also: Mobile health app market in growth mode.]

“Due to the relatively slow deployment of managed telehealth systems, which is in part due to a reluctance from health providers to move past trials, issues with reimbursement and stringent regulations related to the use and storage of medical data,” says Lisa Arrowsmith, senior analyst at IMS Research, “medical devices used by the consumer to independently monitor their health will provide the biggest uptake of wireless technology in consumer health devices over the next five years.”

One the main drivers for the inclusion of wireless technology in consumer health monitoring devices is the ability to monitor one’s health using a separate device such as a smartphone to collect and view the information. A wealth of applications on several platforms are currently available that allow users to transfer readings from a medical device that record such things as blood pressure, blood glucose and heart rate -- which can then be stored and displayed on the device -- or uploaded to a cloud-based system.

[See also: Telehealth becomes multi-dimensional.]

“The increase in consumer familiarity with mobile applications as well as an increased awareness of the importance of monitoring health levels is driving the market for connected health devices,” adds Arrowsmith. “Many consumers already utilize smartphone apps to track their own health and fitness results, with devices such as activity monitors and heart-rate monitors. Now, there is increasing availability of health-related peripheral devices such as blood pressure monitors to track and upload information in real time via a wireless or wired connection to devices such as smartphones and tablets.”

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