A recently released report form Berg Insight shows that the idea of remote monitoring of hospital patients is catching on worldwide, with fully 2.8 million patients at the end of 2012 under the watchful eyes of a home monitoring service with integrated connectivity.
The “2.8 million patients” figure is actually somewhat lagging behind the actual figures, since it only represents those patients who were using devices dedicated to remote monitoring. Many more patients — a number not represented in Berg Insight's study — were using remote monitoring functions enabled by tablets and smartphones as well as regular PCs, so the actual number is somewhat larger than what Berg Insight is reporting.
However, there is also plenty of room for growth in the industry. Berg Insight expects the number of home monitoring systems, complete with integrated communications systems, to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.9 percent through 2017, where it will reach a total of just shy of 10 million total users, at 9.4. The picture for the devices that have integrated cellular connections, meanwhile, will see even greater growth, at a CAGR of 46.3 percent, reaching 7.1 million in 2017.
Berg Insight's telecom analyst, Lars Kurkinen, explains the nature of the market: “Widespread use of remote patient monitoring is still years away, but we are moving towards an age where mHealth solutions will become part of standard care pathways. Financial incentives are now coming into place and new mandates are formed that favorably affect the adoption of mHealth solutions. We believe 2013 will be a landmark year as the mHealth industry shifts into a strong growth phase that will last for many years to come."
Indeed, there are several such “financial incentives” either in play or coming into play that make the use of remote monitoring systems especially worthwhile. Increases in readmission penalties in the United States as part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' protocols will drive the use of remote monitoring. The United Kingdom will get in on the act themselves with the National Health Service establishing new mandates to use remote monitoring systems on 100,000 more patients by March 2014 following successful testing. New laws in France will also add more remote monitoring to the roster.
There are plenty of advantages to using a remote monitoring system. Between the cost savings of freeing up bed space in a hospital to the added patient benefits of having round-the-clock monitoring from a small device, the sheer number of advantages makes the remote monitoring system a powerful tool for hospitals and similar healthcare environments to use. It's likely only going to catch on from here, so be sure to watch for remote monitoring systems to emerge in more hospitals, and get further refined from their current levels.
Edited by Rich Steeves