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Telehealth, Wearable Devices Markets Set to Grow by Billions

By Jennifer Bresnick

- Telehealth and wearable devices are hot ticket items for health IT developers and investors as remote monitoring and mHealth become increasingly important tools in the fight for better chronic disease management, reduced preventable readmissions, and lower healthcare costs. 

Telehealth and remote monitoring technologies

EHR vendors eager to take advantage of growing interest in care coordination technologies that may keep patients healthier at home for longer are leading the way in a telehealth market slated to grow from $17.8 billion in 2014 at an 18.4 percent compound annual growth rate until the end of the decade, Research and Markets says.

Telehealth is becoming the technology of choice for connecting with patients as the shortage of physicians, especially in rural areas, squeezes healthcare providers into developing alternative service methods.  While reimbursement challenges still make it difficult for some providers to participate in emerging remote care strategies, leading health IT vendors such as Cerner Corporation, McKesson, GE Healthcare, and Philips Healthcare are dominating the quickly expanding marketplace.

Specialty telehealth services are particularly ripe for growth, the report adds.  Remote services for dermatology and gynecology snagged the greatest market share, while cardiology, neurology, orthopedics, and emergency care followed.

The expected demand for acute care capabilities pales in comparison to the interest in telehealth and remote monitoring for chronic disease management, however.  A February report by iData Research projected an explosion in the remote monitoring marketplace that could push sales and investment to a whopping $43.4 billion by 2020 as providers identify the most effective use cases for the technology.

“The goal of telehealth is to prevent hospital readmission, reduce in-office visits, better manage health of individuals with long term conditions and reduce costs for more remote and isolated healthcare providers,” said iData CEO Dr. Zamanian.

Meanwhile, BCC Research notes that telehealth technologies form a major part of the general market for clinical health information systems.  Telehealth comprises close to a quarter of the health IT market, pegged at $15.6 billion in 2014 and expected to reach nearly $20 billion by 2019 thanks to a compound annual growth rate of almost five percent.

Much of that growth is due to the increasing prevalence of wearable devices.  While wearables have become popular among patients who wish to track their basic health statistics, healthcare providers and technology developers are still investigating meaningful ways to integrate patient-generated health data from wearables into the clinical workflow.

“In the past few years, a new category of health IT has begun to emerge, with individual consumers using mobile and wearable electronic devices and software to collect data on and monitor biometric indicators such as weight and heart rate,” says BCC Research analyst Andrew McWilliams. “These self-monitoring activities are initiated and carried out by the consumers themselves, without a medical prescription or healthcare provider’s directive, as in the case of telehealth.”

As healthcare organizations and their health IT vendors develop more workflow-friendly ways of harnessing the data from wearable devices, the market for additional tools to analyze and report on patient-generated health data will likely push the remote care market to even greater heights.

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