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Patients expected to use smartphones for health monitoring

A report says the promise of cost savings and efficiency will help the mobile monitoring device market.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted Feb. 20, 2012

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Smartphones already are starting to change the way consumers access patient data, but a new report finds they also are starting to change the way patients use remote monitoring devices.

Juniper Research, a Hampshire, England-based market research firm, published a report Feb. 2 projecting that by 2016, 3 million patients worldwide will be using remote monitoring devices that use a smartphone as a hub to transmit information.

The Juniper Research predictions are in line with broader remote monitoring device trends and predictions that point to a rise in the use of remote monitoring devices.

A report published in January by Berg Insight, a Swedish-based market research firm, predicted that use of remote monitoring devices that have embedded cellular or fixed-line modems will reach 4.9 million by 2016. It said 2.2 million such devices were in use by the end of 2011. A device with an embedded cellular or fixed-line modem is able to transmit data directly, without the use of a smartphone or computer hub.

The Juniper report said devices using a smartphone as a hub to transmit data will lower the cost of mobile health services by reducing the need for more costly devices.

"Remote patient monitoring will step in to reduce the cost burden of unhealthy lifestyles and aging populations," said Anthony Cox, author of the Juniper report. But, he added, more trials of mobile health technology are needed to convince the medical establishment of its benefits.

The report found that cardiac monitoring devices are leading the field, in part because insurers are more likely to pay for those services. Management of diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and other chronic diseases are expected to play a larger role in market growth.

Also driving the market are the growing number of peripheral devices, such as wearable biometric sensors and the increased processing power of smartphones, according to Juniper.

The rising trend of remote patient monitoring runs parallel with a rise in the number of patients using mobile devices to access health information, and the number of physicians incorporating smartphone and tablet computer use into their daily clinical lives.

Market research firm comScore published a post on its Data Mine blog Jan. 16 stating that from November 2010 to November 2011, the number of consumers using mobile devices to access health information rose 125% to 16.9 million. In the fall of 2011, CompTIA, an information technology association, found that 56% of physicians are using smartphones and 25% are using tablets for work.

The use of smartphones has created a demand for health and medical apps, which the Juniper report also examined. It predicted that health care and medical app downloads will reach 44 million by this year and 142 million by 2016.

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