Remote patient monitoring is a growing trend that uses modern communication technology to better serve patient populations. This is corroborated by Berg Insight, a Swedish research firm.

Berg Insight concludes that around 2.2 million patients worldwide were using remote medical monitoring services as of the end of 2011.

The report additionally projects the market for remote patient monitoring equipment will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18% from 2010 to 2016 worldwide, totaling 4.9 million patient connections.

The analysis only includes systems that rely on monitors with integrated connectivity or systems that use monitoring hubs with integrated cellular or fixed-line modems.  This means that the report doesn’t include any monitoring devices that are directly used through a PC or a smartphone.

Some of the most common conditions that are impacted by remote patient monitoring are chronic diseases including cardiac arrhythmia, sleep apnea, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). While these chronic diseases affect millions of people across the world, information and communication technology developments in the healthcare industry can lead to decreased costs, more efficient care delivery and improved sustainability of the healthcare system.

Lars Kurkinen, Telecom Analyst, Berg Insight explains the impact that remote monitoring already has.

“Home monitoring solutions that can communicate over a cellular network, landline connection or the Internet have already reached significant volumes within cardiac rhythm management, integrated telehealth solutions, sleep therapy and cardiac event monitoring.”

The Berg Insight report notes that home monitoring systems with integrated communication capabilities including integrated cellular connectivity increased from 0.42 million in 2010 to about 0.57 million in 2011.  The projected compounded annual growth rate for these devices is 34.6% or approximately 2.47 million devices in 2016.

Several companies have emerged as the forerunners in this industry that have provided integrated solutions for monitoring multiple chronic diseases and other conditions. The six leading providers of integrated telehealth systems include the major technology and electronics companies Bosch, Honeywell, Philips and Bayer, as well as the small specialist telehealth companies Cardiocom and Numera. Interestingly, these six companies account for 73.0% of the installed base of telehealth hubs.

In fact, the main market segments for medical devices with integrated connectivity are cardiac rhythm management, sleep therapy and cardiac event monitoring. In these segments, leading providers such as Medtronic, Biotronik, St. Jude Medical, CardioNet, LifeWatch, ResMed, Philips Respironics and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare today market wirelessly connected solutions.

The future of remote patient monitoring looks positive.  As more people become acclimated to the notion of receiving medical services in a remote manner, more people will take advantage of it.  The cost benefits are clearly there, if nothing else. With the additional proliferation of advanced smartphones and PC software, this may become a way of life sooner then we think, as technologies to securely take advantage of those devices become integrated into healthcare.

Sources: InformationWeek, Berg Insight and ReportLinker