Data from Wireless Opportunities in Health and Wellness Monitoring – 2012 Edition, reveals that the market for self-monitoring for conditions such as high blood pressure and blood glucose is growing faster than telehealth implementation. The proportion of wireless devices used in managed telehealth programs is predicted to increase from 5% in 2011 to 20% in 2016, according to the study.
"The goal of the report was to assess the uptake of wireless technologies in health devices, both consumer bought and those used in telehealth services, and sports and fitness monitoring devices," Phillip Maddocks, author of the report told InformationWeek Healthcare.
With wireless self-monitoring, a patient could, for example, use a monitoring device to record his heart rate or blood glucose and store the data on a Smartphone. A traditional telehealth implementation would require a patient to wear a cardiac halter monitor that would be hooked up to a recorder for 24 hours or more. The patient would then have to go to a doctor in order to have the data reviewed.
The report states that telehealth systems have been slow to deploy due in part to a reluctance from health providers to move past beta test trials as well as issues with reimbursement, and stringent regulations related to the use and storage of medical data.
According to the report, there is a wealth of apps available on several platforms that allow users to transfer blood glucose readings levels from a medical device. Those readings then can be stored and displayed on a smartphone or uploaded to a cloud-based system such as Microsoft HealthVault. Medical information can be viewed directly on a mobile device. Maddocks said he expects to see more consumers monitoring their health using a device such as a smartphone or a tablet.
"There are already apps out in the market place such as Microsoft HealthVault which is on all three major mobile platforms (Windows Phone 7.5, iOS, and Android). We expect other apps to emerge on the market place for monitoring as more devices become readily available."
Although industry experts agree that more apps are being written for personal health and the trend is moving in that direction, some remain skeptical about the sustainability. "I think that they are overestimating the value of what's going to happen how and many of these things are going to get bought and sold," Gartner Group research director Thomas J. Handler told InformationWeek Healthcare. "A lot of those apps on the iTune store for health are free or 99 cents, there's not a lot of money out there. I think part of the concern as a physician I would have is how good are these apps and how good is the advice if all they are is a way to record it," he said.
"I think that if we have the capability to do self-monitoring, we potentially need to move toward intelligent self-monitoring--give me the doc in my smart phone that tells me based on whatever I just recorded what do I do with it. I'm not sure how effective we are going to be at that side of it," Handler said.
Handler said that among the benefits of wireless self-monitoring are a healthier population and lowered healthcare costs. "The potential is huge," he said.
The report assessed the uptake of 10 connectivity technologies in five consumer health monitoring devices; five types of dedicated health hubs, with additional segmentation between managed telehealth devices and consumer medical devices; and five sports and fitness monitoring devices.
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