The number of remotely monitored patients grew by 51 percent to 4.9 million in 2015 as the market entered a growth phase fueled by rising market acceptance in several key verticals, according to a Berg Insight report.
This number includes all patients enrolled in mobile health (mHealth) care programs in which connected medical devices are used as a part of the care regimen.
However, the report noted connected medical devices used for various forms of personal health tracking are not included in this figure.
The analyst firm estimates that the number of remotely monitored patients will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48.9 percent to reach 36.1 million by 2020.
Following cardiac rhythm management (CRM) devices and monitoring of patients with sleep therapy devices, telehealth was the third largest segment with 0.41 million connections at the end of the year.
All other device categories--including ECG, glucose level, medication adherence and others--stood for less than 0.2 million connections each at the end of the year.
"There is a strong trend towards incorporating more connectivity in medical devices and pharmaceuticals in order to enable new services and value propositions," Johan Fagerberg, CEO of Berg Insight, told eWEEK. "Implantable cardiac rhythm management has traditionally been the largest market segment, led by companies such as Medtronic, Biotronik and St. Jude Medical that included connectivity in CRM solutions more than a decade ago."
However, Fagerberg noted the sleep therapy segment is growing at the fastest rate and will surpass CRM in 2016. He said the number of remotely monitored sleep therapy patients grew by 170 percent in 2015, with market growth mainly driven by the vendor ResMed, which has made connected healthcare a cornerstone of its strategy.
Berg Insight predicts that three of the fastest growing market segments in the next five years will be glucose monitoring, air flow monitoring and connected pharmaceuticals.
"Today, the leading connected healthcare players in these segments include forward-thinking incumbents as well as innovative new entrants such as AstraZeneca, Dexcom, Merck, Novartis, Propeller Health, Proteus Digital Health, Roche, Sanofi, Voluntis and WellDoc," Fagerberg said.
He explained that the adoption of remote patient monitoring solutions is driven by a wide range of incentives, related to everything from demographics and technology development to new advancements in medical treatment.
"However, there are a number of barriers, including resistance to change among healthcare organizations and clinicians, misaligned incentive structures and the financing of wireless solutions by what is at large an underfunded healthcare sector," he said. "Several catalysts are nevertheless speeding up the rate of adoption – in particular incentives from payers and insurance companies, national health systems that support remote monitoring and a shift to performance-based payment models."