A new report from InMedica, on the world market for telehealth, forecasts that the number of gateways used in telehealth applications will increase to over one million in 2014 and to around 3.6 million in 2018. The initiatives taken by governments and private healthcare providers to increase reimbursements and reduce the legal and liability issues will help in the roll out of telehealth as a mainstream technology for remote disease and home-health monitoring. InMedica predicts telehealth will start to be used by healthcare providers on a wider scale from 2012 onwards. This gives a two to three year window for the current market barriers to be overcome, including demonstrating the benefits of telehealth on a large scale to health insurance companies.
In 2009, health hubs were the most widely used telehealth gateways, constituting about 80% of the total gateways market. InMedica believes that in the short to medium term, health hubs will remain the most practical solution for professional healthcare providers to supply to patients, as the infrastructure can then be standardised and simplified on a large scale. Even though the number of integrated cellular handsets used as telehealth gateways was estimated to be small in 2009, they are forecast to grow to over 350 thousand in 2014. According to Neha Khandelwal, market research analyst at InMedica, “The use of mobile phones as telehealth gateways has had a surge of interest over the last couple of years; with patients and device companies recognising the benefits of data transmission on the move. We anticipate that cellular service providers will play an increasingly important role in the long-term future of the telehealth market.”
InMedica forecasts that health hubs will increasingly be for managing disease conditions such as CHF and COPD. However, for disease conditions such as diabetes, cellular handsets will find an increasing acceptance. A number of device companies have launched diabetes management programs that use cellular handsets for transmitting blood-glucose readings to care professionals. Sufferers of diabetes are already used to regular self-monitoring with blood glucose meters. Progressing to a telehealth service will not be a massive lifestyle change for them, so compliance should not be a huge hurdle. Moreover, receiving regular feedback on their condition would be a great benefit.