Around 3 million patients worldwide were using connected home medical monitoring devices at the end of 2013, according to a report from IT research firm Berg Insight.
The main application is monitoring of patients with implantable cardiac rhythm management (CRM) devices, which, with 2 million connections, accounted for nearly two-thirds of all connected home medical monitoring devices in 2013.
The report predicted that CRM would remain the single largest device segment throughout the forecast period, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.1 percent to 4 million connections by 2018.
However, the CRM segment is expected to account for just 21 percent of all connections in 2018, down from 65 percent in 2013, as the use of connectivity is growing faster in other device segments.
In addition, mobile health (mHealth) connectivity platforms such as 2net Mobile from Qualcomm Life and HealthKit from Apple are emerging as promising solutions and can allow bring-your-own-device (BYOD) health hubs to become the favored alternative for several groups of patients, such as diabetics and asthmatics.
The report pointed out that while the BYOD model can--in theory--be very cost-efficient as no dedicated hardware or subscriptions are needed, that model accounted for less than 1 percent of all connections in 2013.
Currently, more than 70 percent of all connected medical devices rely on public switched telephone network (PSTN) or local area network (LAN) connectivity for transmitting measurement data to caregivers.
However, the report noted cellular connectivity has become the most common technology in new medical devices and is forecast to account for 74 percent of all connections by 2018.
Sleep therapy and telehealth were the second and third largest application segments, with 0.54 million and 0.34 million connections at the end of 2013, according to the report.
All other device categories, which include ECG, glucose level, medication adherence, blood pressure, air flow, home sleep tests, blood oxygen and coagulation monitoring, accounted for less than 0.1 million connections each.
"It is currently more common that caregivers provide a dedicated tablet or smartphone to a patient for remote monitoring than that a patient uses her own device," Lars Kurkinen, a senior analyst with Berg Insight, said in a statement. "The main limitation is in the lack of interoperability between medical monitoring devices, smartphones and tablets."
The overall figure of 3 million comprises all patients that were remotely monitored by a professional caregiver, however, patients that use connected medical devices for personal health tracking are not included in that figure.