By Brian Dolan

PRESS RELEASE: A new report from InMedica on the world market for telehealth, predicts that the use of home use medical devices will ramp-up as telehealth takes-off. By 2013, the combined unit shipments of home-use digital blood-glucose meters, blood pressure monitors, weight scales, pulse oximeters and peak flow meters used in telehealth applications will grow to over 1.6 million. Shipments of health hubs will also increase, such that the total shipments of telehealth devices will top 2 million.

As the use of telehealth grows, more people will have monitoring devices in their homes. Today telehealth is mainly used for the management of chronic diseases, such as COPD, CHF, hypertension and diabetes. Despite being around for a number of years, home telehealth has not yet evolved into a mainstream application. On the whole, the US has shown the most development, with a few instances of mainstream services. Telehealth implementation by the Veterans Association being the single largest to date, with more than 30,000 subscribers. While the US has been leading the adoption of telehealth so far, some European countries like the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany have also witnessed implementation of telehealth projects of varying scope and scale. A second market for telehealth that is also gaining traction includes people who are more generally concerned or worried about their state of health, who may not necessarily be diagnosed with a condition.

In 2009, nearly 50,000 blood-pressure monitors were used in telehealth applications. Shipments are forecast to increase to more than half a million in 2013. Ageing world populations and unhealthy modern lifestyles are significantly increasing the prevalence of hypertension. It is also becoming an increasingly worrying cardiovascular risk factor. In the face of these major challenges, blood-pressure monitors are being increasingly integrated as a part of telehealth packages for managing disease conditions such as CHF, COPD and hypertension. Diabetes is another common chronic condition to be monitored using telehealth. Though the number of blood-glucose monitors used in telehealth applications was quite low in 2009, shipments are forecast to grow to around 300,000 in 2013.

Consumer telehealth will be an extension of the current home-use medical device market, with manufacturers offering additional internet-based services to people that purchase their monitors. These services are expected to include simple analysis of readings and some level of generalised feedback that may include dietary and nutritional advice. Moreover there are a host of specialist software applications of varying health management tools also available. According to market research analyst Neha Khandelwal “These services are likely to be subscription based and will coincide with the popularity of internet health products such as Google Health or Microsoft’s Health Vault. The Continua Health Alliance aims to make all home-use medical devices with telehealth features interoperable; so it is also likely that consumer devices will be able to work with innovative new health records.” InMedica expects professional and consumer telehealth to develop in partnership with each other. In fact, consumer-led telehealth services could prove to be the disruptive influence required for professional care authorities to drive telehealth forward. Either way, an increase in popularity of telehealth services will result in additional sales for home use medical devices in the long term.

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About InMedica

InMedica is the medical research division of IMS Research, a supplier of market research and consultancy services on a wide range of global electronics markets. The company is supported by headquarters in Wellingborough, UK and offices in Austin, Texas and Shanghai, China. IMS Research regularly publishes detailed research on medical imaging devices (such as ultrasound, X-ray and MRI), consumer medical devices (Telehealth, blood pressure monitors and sports performance monitors) and clinical care markets (such as patient monitors, ventilators and infusion pumps), among others.