In recent years there has been a continued focus on providing patients with intelligence devices and connected devices with the promise of improved health and a reduction of costs. With indicators such as the strong growth of the telemonitoring industry (3 Billion[i]), the growth of personal health devices, and emphasis on IoT (Internet of Things) projects it’s safe to say that there are tremendous opportunities in this market space.
What is driving this industry now?Further driving innovation in this area, particularly in the US, are government programs that penalize health care providers for readmissions. We believe there may be opportunities for a wide range of telemonitoring, closely monitoring patients whom have recently had cardiac care and those with diabetes and/or hypertension has shown some promise in reducing readmission rates. The potential for solutions that provide cost avoidance is very real and happening now.
Although long term goals are that telemonitoring provides a solution to readmission issues in the US. Similar to monitoring patients in a hospital, monitoring patients from home (or extended care facility) is still very workflow intensive. At home, there is a strong dependency on patients to report information on their vitals on a regular basis, only systems that include the “human element” seem to have shown success. For this reason, telemonitoring programs are expected to struggle somewhat in the next few years until device usability improves and the costs for technology and workflow reduces to a point where it is cheaper for health providers to outsource these services. That said, patients who are able and have the discipline to embrace the telemonitoring programs do see improvements do have an overall feeling of control and empowerment over their health.
What are the current trends?
Telehealth has been a part of modern health care systems for many years, and has traditionally relied on expensive and specialized equipment to connect providers and patients. Although telemonitoring is somewhat of a new concept and the market is still emerging, We expect that telemonitoring will drive down the cost of telehealth and open new opportunities for connected health device manufacturers. Still, the industry is dominated by large players in the market such as Honeywell, GE, and Phillips which will most likely retain their grip on major health providers such as hospitals and government agencies. We expect that within 2-3 years most (if not all) major medical centers in the US will offer telemonitoring services directly to their patients.
One trend that we see growing (and one that would support wider range of service providers) is best represented by a company called Nurse Next Door who are using telemonitoring technologies to give them both a competitive advantage and improve home care services to their patients. Companies such as AMC Health and CareCentrix supports these initiatives by providing telemonitoring as service to home care agencies, clinical trials, accountable care organizations and integrated health systems. Companies such as STI represents companies specializing in telemonitoring to provide no-hassle rental programs, central station medial alert monitoring and back-end services for cleaning, repair, calibration and maintenance of equipment.
It’s important not to exclude the rise of personal health devices. These consumer devices are all the rage these days and although they are mostly ineffective and inaccurate when it comes to vitals monitoring, their value appears to be in self-awareness and connectiveness. This self-awareness in personal health monitoring is beginning to create a culture of future patients (aka “the connected patient”) who will most likely demand telemonitoring so they continue feel empowered. It’s expected that the trend of personal health devices will continue and that telemonitoring device hubs will support connecting some of these devices in addition to other clinical monitoring devices the patient may need in their home.
In the US, there are almost 30,000 home health care service establishments; California, Texas and Florida have the most establishments. In Canada, there are comparatively less service providers having only 1,285 establishments.
In Canada, there are approximately 60 companies registered as ICT telemonitoring companies indicating that this is still a relatively small market in Canada. The closet segment to this in the USA industry data is the “All other miscellaneous ambulatory health care services” category, of which there are 4,000 companies.
The market leader in home monitoring which includes software for their devices is Honeywell and their Lifestream product line; However, there are still only a few companies that provide off the shelf products for telemonitoring such as Cardiocom, Home Health Hub and Authentidate that we came across in our research which indicates that the industry requires significant ICT support from companies to bridge the gap by developing custom solutions for customers.
We are always on the lookout for emerging trends in leveraging the vast amounts of data systems are collecting around the world. If you are interested in learning more about where this is industry is headed or would like assistance in your next real-time data integration project please contact us anytime.
Shane Quigley is an expert in data warehousing, business intelligence, systems analysis, and solution architecture.