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Report: Consumer Self-Monitoring Will Drive Wireless Health

May 23, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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A recent report from Englewood, Colo.-based research firm, IMS Research, is predicting that medical devices utilized by the consumer to self-monitor their health, rather than those used in managed telehealth systems, will be the biggest opportunity for wireless technologies in healthcare over the next five years. In the report, “Wireless Opportunities in Health and Wellness Monitoring – 2012 Edition,” IMS Research forecasts that more than 50 million wireless health monitoring devices will ship for consumer monitoring applications during the next five years, with a smaller number being used in managed telehealth systems.

According to the IMS report, medical devices bought by the consumer to self-monitor their health will account for more than 80 percent of all wireless-enabled consumer medical devices in 2016. The researchers say the demand for consumers to self-monitor their health is growing much faster than the market for telehealth implementation. The report states consumers will want to be able to monitor and manage their own health at home, even if they don’t belong to a healthcare systems that is adapted for this. The researchers expect a proportion of wireless devices used in managed telehealth programs to increase from five percent in 2011, to 20 percent in 2016.

“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, 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,” Lisa Arrowsmith, senior analyst at IMS Research, said in a statement.

Smartphones and other personal mobile devices are one of the main drivers as to why the consumer health monitoring device market will grow, the research report states. According to IMS, there is a wealth of mobile health apps, allowing users to transfer readings from a medical device, which can then be stored and displayed on the device, or uploaded to a cloud-based system. This is possible, the researchers say, by buying independent devices from companies such as A&D Medical which utilize wireless technologies such as ANT+ or Bluetooth. Measurements from these devices can be viewed and stored locally, on devices such as smart phones, or uploaded to independent cloud-based systems.

 “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,” Arrowsmith says.

The report looks at 10 connectivity technologies in five consumer health monitoring devices, five types of dedicated health hub (with addition segmentation between managed telehealth devices and consumer medical devices), and five sports and fitness monitoring devices.

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