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Telehealth Market In Tight Competition

Companies are fighting for their share of the electronic health monitoring business, which is expected to grow 55% annually over the next five years.

Slideshow: Wireless Telehealth Brings Medical Help To Those In Need
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While Honeywell HomMed lead the worldwide telehealth market with a 15.4% market share in 2009, a report from medical research group InMedica shows that newer players like Philips Healthcare, Bosch Healthcare, and Cardiocom are gobbling up a greater slice of the business.

The report's data reveals that Bosch, which has penetrated the market in the last few years and is the single largest supplier for the Department of Veterans Affairs' care coordination program, was a close second with a 14.9% market share.

"With the market for telehealth predicted to grow at a (compound annual growth rate) of over 55% in the next five years, more and more companies from outside the healthcare market are likely to get involved. The competitive landscape will look quite different in two or three years" Neha Khandelwal, market research analyst at InMedica, said in a statement.

As the competition to win contracts to supply healthcare providers with telehealth technology is increasing, more contracts involve high volumes of equipment and devices, as the number of patients enrolled in telehealth programs increases. There are some very well-established suppliers of home-use medical devices that are likely to leverage their positions to capitalize on the increased interest in home monitoring. One example is Viterion TeleHealthcare, a business of Bayer HealthCare, the report said.

However, manufacturers of professional healthcare equipment may also choose to enter the telehealth market and provide complete solutions. This could include companies like Siemens Healthcare, GE Healthcare, and Philips Healthcare. In August 2010, GE Healthcare and Intel announced a joint venture focused on telehealth and independent living. According to Khandelwal, "the combination of GE's healthcare expertise and Intel's experience in technology development could be a formidable force in the telehealth market going forward."

The report's findings show that apart from suppliers of health hubs and peripheral devices, there is a diverse range of other companies that operate in the telehealth ecosystem including telecom providers, software application developers, and companies that enable interfaces between patient records and monitoring devices. In a recent development, Microsoft joined the Continua Health Alliance with a view to making its HealthVault service for managing consumer healthcare data a platform for Continua certified devices.

The report also said telecom providers are in a unique position and will inevitably play a major role in telehealth. Telecom companies are working with healthcare providers to enable the transmission of patient readings to monitoring stations and subsequent feedback to the patients. By playing an intermediary role between telehealth device providers and clinicians, telecom companies will be responsible for managing the security and data transport of a huge amount of medical records if professional telehealth reaches its potential.

The report notes that it is unclear how telecom providers will choose to manage and bill the level of data they will have to deal with once professional telehealth services become widespread. The consumer side of telehealth may be particularly lucrative for telecom providers looking to add additional value to their existing offerings. For example, mobile phone networks could offer online data management services to people who want to store and analyze readings they have taken using a home-use medical device that can link with their mobile phone.

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