The growth of wireless patient monitors has outpaced other medical devices such as defibrillators and catheters to become the fastest growing medical device segment in terms of revenue, writes Pamela Lewis Dolan in American Medical News.
The growth is attributed to increased use of electronic medical records, according to Dolan, who quotes in her story a marketing report about remote and wireless patient-monitoring devices by Kalorama Research. The monitoring devices can send data directly to a physician’s records system, and the physicians can customize what reports the system generates. These monitoring devices are different from health-related smartphone apps.
The wireless monitoring device industry in the U.S. has doubled in the past four years to a current value of $7.1 billion. And it’s expected to triple in the next four years, reaching $22.2 billion by 2015.
The devices are popular because they save money. More people can be monitored by fewer personnel, Dolan explains. This is particularly relevant now, she writes, because an aging population means increasing numbers of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes, which are “two of the top conditions requiring monitoring.”
Dolan notes that Kalorama’s report did not cover monitoring devices that work with smartphones, but the report estimates the current market is worth $84 million and will grow to $400 million in 2015.
Dolan adds some evidence that demonstrates that patients, physicians, and a government agency are interested in health-related apps:
A Pew Internet & American Life Project report published on Nov. 2 found that 11% of adult cell phone users in the U.S. have downloaded an app to help them monitor health. Many of these apps are not considered monitoring devices but a place to record calories or exercise. But there are a growing number of more advanced apps that monitor vital signs and help patients manage chronic diseases.
Several medical device manufacturers have created mobile app versions of monitoring systems and even have sought FDA approval for use as a medical device. Because of the demand, the FDA issued proposed oversight for medical-related smartphone apps in July.
Patients may see other apps available soon that collect other information about daily living. That information could be used to help physicians make more informed decisions about their patient’s health, Dolan writes.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio started a research project in 2009 that just has entered its second phase. The project is examining how to incorporate data about mood, behavior, and environment that is collected with wireless devices and work it into clinical workflow and decision-making.
Rachel Petkewich is a freelance science writer and editor. She has worked as a research scientist in the chemical industry and spent eight years as a staff writer and editor at various science journals and magazines, including Chemical & Engineering News.