Wireless devices that monitor patients' condition and report the data to health care providers are expected to show a 77 percent compound annual growth rate resulting in global revenue of almost $950 million by 2014, according to a new study from ABI Research.
The report notes that the variety of sensors for measuring a growing array of vital signs and symptoms. Significantly, these devices are getting smaller, even to the point of pills containing a digestible radio that will confirm when medication has been taken.
"Doctors and hospitals are looking for ways to save money, and wireless patient monitoring has a huge potential to do that," ABI Research Vice President Stan Schatt said in a statement. "It's a lot more economical to monitor patients remotely at home than to have them come in personally for check-ups that consume time and resources."
Hurdles, however, remain, including the cost of adding wireless communications.
"In the future we will see entire cellular networks designed as managed services for handling these machine-to-machine communications," Schatt said. "The whole process will be outsourced, and software will monitor the incoming measurements. Medical staff will be alerted when the data indicates their intervention is needed."
ABI estimates that cellular modules built into end-use medical devices will be one of the primary drivers of wireless telehealth over the next 24 months. Some 15 million such systems are forecast to be in use -- mainly in North America, the world's most expensive health care system -- by early in 2012.
North America, with its aging population and tech-oriented medical industry, is central to the telehealth market and is expected to remain so over the report's forecast period which extends through 2014.