M-health: 2.8 million patients remotely monitored worldwide in 2012

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About 2.8 million patients were remotely monitored worldwide at the end of 2012, using a home monitoring service based on equipment with integrated connectivity, according to a new research report from the analyst firm Berg Insight. The number of monitored patients is higher than nearly 2.2 million monitored patients at the end of 2011.

Some of the most common conditions currently being monitored are chronic diseases including cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension, ischemic diseases, sleep apnea, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The report only tallied patients who used dedicated devices for remote monitoring. People who used their personal mobile phone, tablet or PC for remote monitoring are not included in this figure.

Looking ahead, Berg Insight forecasts that the number of home monitoring systems with integrated communication capabilities will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.9% between 2011 and 2017 to reach 9.4 million connections worldwide.

The growth in connections follows the increase in the number of devices with integrated cellular connectivity, which has grown from 0.73 million in 2011 to about 1.03 million in 2012, and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 46.3% to 7.1 million in 2017, Berg Insight noted. Vendors are looking at this potential market to develop integrated solutions for monitoring multiple chronic diseases and other conditions.

Berg Insight listed the leading providers of telehealth systems, including major technology and electronics companies such as Bosch, Honeywell and Philips, as well as smaller and more specialized providers such as Tunstall, Cardiocom and Numera. These six companies together account for 75.8% of the installed base of telehealth hubs.

According to the Berg Insight, the main market segments for medical devices with integrated connectivity are cardiac rhythm management, sleep therapy and ambulatory ECG monitoring. Connectivity is also gaining momentum in several other segments such as blood pressure monitoring, glucose monitoring and medication adherence.

The report notes that mHealth enables more efficient care delivery, decreased costs and improved sustainability of the healthcare system.

Lars Kurkinen, telecom analyst at Berg Insight, said that financial incentives are now coming into play and new mandates are being developed that favorably affect the adoption of mHealth solutions. Kurkinen believes that 2013 will be a landmark year and the mHealth industry will shift into a strong growth phase that will last for many years to come.

Some of the major telecom industry players such as Qualcomm, AT&T and Orange have had business units dedicated to mHealth for several years. During last year’s mHealth Summit when AT&T revealed its top five list for 2013, the company forecasted that remote patient monitoring will move from pilot programs to large-scale adoption as more hospitals adopt an accountable care organization model to reduce hospital readmission costs associated with chronic conditions.

AT&T also predicted that integrated mHealth applications will be created that can connect with other devices, apps and data for more holistic healthcare, in which information can be safely shared across platforms regardless of the vendor.

Berg Insight stated that continuous exploration and experimentation with pilot projects has enabled mHealth companies to build industry-specific capabilities while devising their long-term strategies. These experimental efforts have materialized into mHealth platforms that can be leveraged by medical device OEMs, healthcare organizations and mHealth app developers to facilitate the development of patient-centric mHealth solutions.

Finally, the survey noted that the adoption of out-of-hospital wireless monitoring in healthcare is driven by a wide range of incentives, related to everything from demographics and technology development to new advancements in medical treatment. However, there are a number of barriers, including resistance to change among healthcare organizations and clinicians, misaligned incentive structures and financing for wireless solutions by a mostly underfunded healthcare sector.

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About Author

Editor, Americas
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Roberta Prescott is responsible for Latin America reporting news and analysis, interviewing key stakeholders. Roberta has worked as an IT and telecommunication journalist since March 2005, when she started as a reporter with InformationWeek Brasil magazine and its website IT Web. In July 2006, Prescott was promoted to be the editor-in-chief, and, beyond the magazine and website, was in charge for all ICT products, such as IT events and CIO awards. In mid-2010, she was promoted to the position of executive editor, with responsibility for all the editorial products and content of IT Mídia. Prescott has worked as a journalist since 1998 and has three journalism prizes. In 2009, she won, along with InformationWeek Brasil team, the press prize 11th Prêmio Imprensa Embratel. In 2008, she won the 7th Unisys Journalism Prize and in 2006 was the editor-in-chief when InformationWeek Brasil won the 20th media award Prêmio Veículos de Comunicação. She graduated in Journalism by the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Campinas, has done specialization in journalism at the Universidad de Navarra (Spain, 2003) and Master in Journalism at IICS – Universidad de Navarra (Brazil, 2010) and MBA – Executive Education at the Getulio Vargas Foundation.

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