Prediction: 12 million wearable patches will ship in 2020

By Jonah Comstock
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Proteus Digital HealthResearch firm Tractica predicts that worldwide unit shipments of clinical and non-clinical connected wearable patches will grow to 12.3 million per year by 2020. Last year, annual shipments were just 67,000. The market for such connected patches, Tractica predicts, will hit $3.3 billion per year.

Tractica describes the category as including "patches, tattoos, or small devices that are affixed to the skin and worn for a limited period of time, ranging from an hour to several weeks" and adds that "the patches also have an element of wireless connectivity, and have a medical, health, or wellness purpose that can range from monitoring physiological data to delivering medication." 

That could include Proteus Digital Health's medication management and adherence system, which includes sensor-enabled pills, a peel-and-stick biometric sensor patch worn on the body, and companion smartphone apps. It could also include Vital Connect's HealthPatch MD, the LifeWatch Vital Signs Patch, Fitlinxx's AmpStrip, iRhythm's Zio Patch, or SensiumVitals devices from UK company Toumaz, which made $1 million off peel-and-stick vitals sensors last year. It could also include peel-and-stick thermometers for tracking fertility or managing temperature in young children.

“The nascent market for connected wearable patches holds great promise, with the potential to improve the health of patients and contribute to lower healthcare costs,” Principal analyst Charul Vyas said. “It is, however, still very much in the early stages of development and commercial availability. Connected wearable patches face a variety of challenges that must be overcome in the next several years in order for the market to thrive.”

Patch technology will be attractive to payers and providers looking for ways to reduce healthcare system costs, Vyas writes. As the technology advances and the stakeholders look for new ways to manage populations, adhesive patch technology could provide a cost-effective means to remote patient monitoring.

Back in 2013, ABI Research also looked at this market. By 2018, ABI analysts predicted at the time, disposable sensor shipments would hit 5 million.

“There’ve been a number of companies focused on or looking at the potential of this market,” ABI analyst Jonathan Collins told MobiHealthNews back then. “And we’re increasingly seeing it as more viable.”