Healthcare Technology Featured Article

December 07, 2015

Almost Five Million Patients Worldwide Under Remote Monitoring

There's a great potential for remote monitoring in healthcare. The practice of giving patients a set of devices — some wearable, others not — that allow physicians to chart an outpatient can be a huge cost savings and morale boost. How is this potential lining up to reality? A new report from Berg Insight shows growth and untapped potential.

The total numbers of patients under remote monitoring was up 51 percent, reaching 4.9 million in 2015. This push came from a combination of factors, including an increasing number of physicians and medical facilities willing and able to put the tools to work.  Moreover, these figures only include those who are using connected devices as part of a specific medical regimen; it doesn't factor in the numbers of individuals using personal health tracking systems. With that in mind, the tech’s projected CAGR of 48.9 percent through 2020 may even be conservative.

Perhaps the biggest two devices in this market will be cardiac rhythm management and sleep therapy devices. Sleep therapy actually accounted for the largest growth in the field for 2015, with ResMed's Air Solutions line of devices proving particularly successful. Air Solutions uses a cellular-based machine-to-machine (M2M) module as a standard feature, packing in a set of software tools to better track and respond to issues.

2015 also saw the rise of cellular connectivity stepping ahead of both public switched telephone network (PSTN) and local area network (LAN) connectivity as the most widely-used. Berg Insight is also looking for future expansion, as noted by its senior analyst Lars Kurkinen. Kurkinen looked for a major rise in bring your own device (BYOD) monitoring operations, with a patient's own mobile device of choice serving as a “health hub”. This is particularly helpful for diabetic and asthmatic patients, calming fears of sudden attacks.

Users that are more at ease are also somewhat more likely to stick to prescribed treatment courses, as it's less a habit that needs to be learned and more an extension of everyday life. That's a point in BYOD's favor, but also for remote patient monitoring systems. Fewer patients in hospital beds mean fewer hospital beds needed, though some might well be maintained for emergency use. Fewer beds means less maintenance, and better maintenance in active areas. That further improves patient outcomes without major cost hikes.

The medical system desperately needs to lower costs—the health insurance saga of the last couple years proves that—and in the end, the more costs are saved, the lower the cost to the patient. That's a very desirable outcome, especially if service doesn't suffer, and a point that makes remote monitoring all the more valuable.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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