Wearable Medical Technology Set To Take Off
Mobile health devices that monitor vital signs will become more standard, pushing market to $6 billion by 2016, says IMS Research.
World Market for Wearable Technology--A Quantitative Market Assessment--2012 examines wearable electronic devices used in professional and consumer environments. IMS Research defines these devices as products that are worn on the user's body for an extended period of time and that contain advanced circuitry, wireless connectivity, and can process data.
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According to the report, several shifts in the market will occur during the next four years that will increase demand for these products among patients as well as healthy individuals. As baby boomers age, they'll become a primary market for health devices such as blood pressure and glucose monitors that upload up-to-date information to caregivers.
Researchers also found that in 2011, glucose monitors accounted for most of the revenue in the health device segment of the market, reflecting the need for continuous data on blood glucose levels, particularly in Type I diabetes patients. The dominant wearable products in this category include continuous glucose monitors from Abbott and Medtronic.
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Wearable technology helps clinicians work more efficiently and extend care outside the hospital environment. When clinicians can collect information on patients anywhere and anytime, the increased knowledge can lead to earlier detection of problems, preventing readmission and resulting in better clinical outcomes, Theo Ahadome, senior analyst at IMS Research, said in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare.
"This will decrease the cost of healthcare in the long run," Ahadome predicts. "However, these benefits will need to be clearly proven in order for providers to adopt them and for payers to pay for them."
Another consideration is the deluge of data that these devices generate. For payers and providers, while these devices give better insights on a patient's medical condition, more data brings greater risk of data breaches and more responsibility to implement tighter security and access controls.
In addition to tighter data security, Ahadome foresees a change in clinical workflow as providers seek to accommodate a new way of tracking patients' health.
"Physicians need this data to be integrated into their IT systems, and [they] will have to change their workflow to accept and use this external data," Ahadome said. "There will be internal resistance from physicians who are used to standard patient visits. In the long run, once these issues are dealt with, it will lead to greater competition in the hospital and payer markets as patients begin to seek out those health organizations that deploy extended systems of care incorporating wearable technology."
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