Healthcare Technology Featured Article

June 27, 2014

The mHealth Movement: The Rise of Connected Home Medical Monitoring Devices

Today, many personal medical-monitoring devices and mobile apps put health care in the palm of consumers’ hand. Both personal “self-health” technologies and mobile apps are becoming more important to manage an array of health challenges, including chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes.

The medical-monitoring apps on the market, in most cases, are able to produce accurate readings and measurements. They often integrate with smartphones and are equipped with proprietary sensors for measuring medical variables, such as blood glucose levels or heartbeat, and produce that data to users. Other medical apps allow a user to share blood glucose results via text message or e-mail. The mobile-health interface enables the transmission of medical data to health professionals in real time.

Connecting medical devices and using Health IT as a monitoring system (through the use of  Wi-Fi communication and secure connectivity to prevent data breaches) make it possible to share personal information and use telehealth to exchange data between patients and doctors outside of clinical settings. This can reduce the need for a hospital stay or visit, and reduce healthcare costs.

Consumers can find various medical apps online (for free or a small fee) to download for a variety of scopes; they can use them to test, read and measure blood pressure, glucose levels, heart rate, pulse oximetry, and more in the comfort of their home.

Wireless-enabled consumer medical devices can be very effective in helping doctors detect patients’ problems before they worsen; thus, leading to earlier intervention. For instance, a user can wear a wireless heart-rate monitor that transfers all information, remotely, via a home hub, to healthcare providers that can analyze the data and take immediate action if needed.  The provider can warn the patient of dangerous levels that may need treatment and give advice to prevent the onset of related health complications.

As the healthcare industry begins to enable self-monitoring by patients, a number of patients are using connected home medical monitoring devices. According to a new research report from the analyst firm Berg Insight, around 3.0 million patients worldwide were using remote wireless devices to display health-monitoring results at the end of 2013. It is estimated that the number will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 44.4 percent to 19.1 million in 2018.

Patients with implantable cardiac rhythm management (CRM) devices account for 2.0 million connections; this is nearly two thirds of all connected home medical monitoring devices in 2013. In addition, “sleep therapy and telehealth are the second and third largest segments with 0.54 million and 0.34 million connections respectively at the end of the year,” Berg Insight report findingsshow. All other device categories from the research found “ECG, glucose level, medication adherence, blood pressure, air flow, home sleep tests, blood oxygen and coagulation monitoring – stood for less than 0.1 million connections each.”

With increase in mobility, connectivity and portability of patient monitoring devices, remote patient care has evolved. Along with mHealth applications, cellular connectivity (PTSN) is becoming the most common technology in new medical devices for transmitting measurement data to caregivers. More than 70 percent of all connected medical devices rely on PSTN, as per a Mynewsdesk post that reported this piece of data on Thursday.Cellular connectivity in new medical devices is forecasted to account for 74 percent of all connections by 2018. Berg Insight adds that platforms such as 2net Mobile from Qualcomm Life and HealthKit from Apple are emerging as promising solutions to better connect providers and patients while improving outcomes and increasing care efficiency.

Overall, the research report from the analyst firm Berg Insight shows the growing evidence supporting mHealth and the movement towards widespread use of remote technology (medical apps used by mobile devices) thathelp patients with preventive care. The acceleration of mobile technology has driven the transformation of health services.

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