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Telehealth Device Market Thriving

Home blood glucose meters, blood pressure monitors, health hubs, and other medical device shipments will top 2 million by 2013, says a study.

Shipments of telehealth devices will top 2 million by 2013, according to a report.

The study, published by medical research group InMedica, said a breakdown of the numbers shows that shipments of home-use digital blood glucose meters, blood pressure monitors, weight scales, pulse oximeters, and peak flow meters used in telehealth applications will grow to more than 1.6 million, while shipments of health hubs will grow to 400,000.

Among the more popular devices are blood pressure monitors. In 2009, nearly 50,000 blood pressure monitors were used in telehealth applications. By 2013, shipments are forecast to increase to more than 500,000. Blood glucose meter shipments are forecast to grow to around 300,000 in 2013.

The United States has taken the lead in telehealth device adoption. Of particular note, the report said, is the more than 30,000 subscribers that use telehealth devices at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is the single largest implementation to date. Other European countries including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany have also implemented telehealth projects.

The report notes that consumer telehealth will be an extension of the current home medical device market, with manufacturers offering additional Internet-based services to consumers who purchase monitors. Services such as an examination of readings, as well as dietary and nutritional advice, are expected to become more prevalent.

According to InMedica market research analyst Neha Khandelwal, "These services are likely to be subscription based and will coincide with the popularity of Internet health products such as Google Health or Microsoft's Health Vault," said Khandelwal. "The Continua Health Alliance aims to make all home-use medical devices with telehealth features interoperable; so it is also likely that consumer devices will be able to work with innovative new health records."

Despite being around for a number of years, home telehealth has not yet evolved into a mainstream application, but the growing number of people with chronic illnesses, along with the aging population, gives telehealth a vibrant consumer market growth opportunity, the report said. Telehealth device manufacturers are developing products that are easy to use and interoperable with other products.

Blood pressure monitors, for example, are being increasingly integrated as part of telehealth packages for managing disease conditions such as congestive heart failure and hypertension, the report said.

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