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Connected Health » Features, Mobile Phone Apps » Why 2012 is set to be the biggest year yet for Mobile Health and wellness gadgets

Why 2012 is set to be the biggest year yet for Mobile Health and wellness gadgets

Dutch giant Philips has developed a number of cardiac monitoring devices, like the CardioSen’C™ (above) which enables patients to be monitored in the comfort of their own homes.

As populations in Western countries age and health budgets become more stretched, the healthcare profession is inevitably focussing more on preventative measures over curing existing illnesses.

At the same time, it is looking to reduce costs of people taking up hospital beds whose illnesses could be monitored remotely, both more cheaply and effectively. As a result, mHealth – essentially where healthcare meets mobile technology – is one area set to become increasingly significant both for the medical and technology professions in 2012.

In practice, there are various levels of mHealth provision from the simplest voice and data services for the medical profession to complex monitoring infrastructure which may also include a software platform to assess progress. Eventually remote diagnosis via video may play an increasingly important role in reducing the barriers that currently exist through geography while popular consumer electronic devices, like the iPad, will be everyday items when it comes to healthcare monitoring.

Curently there are two main areas for remote patient monitoring: cardiac outpatient monitoring and remote patient monitoring for chronic diseases. However, it’s likely these two areas will come together over the coming years as witnessed recently by the strategic alliance between the cardiac out-patient monitoring company CardioNet and the chronic disease monitoring company MedApps.

The aim of remote patient monitoring is summarised by the California-based West Wireless Health Instititute, which was set up in 2009 to promote and invest in the use of wireless technology in the healtcare sector. “Low-cost sensors and wireless monitoring will enable an infrastructure independence model of health care, which translates into the right care at the right time, wherever the patient may be,” says the West Wireless Health Institute. “The power and potential to address a health condition before it becomes a crisis and before it requires hospitalisation is real and represents the next evolution in medicine.”

According to Juniper Research’s latest report, Mobile Healthcare Opportunities, by the year 2016 there will be a total of 3.08 million individuals benefitting from remote patient monitoring for both mobile cardiac outpatients and for chronic diseases. And while the vast majority of these will be in North America, Juniper predicts growth in eight key regions – see infographic to the left.

Nor is the convergence of health and technology in the professional mHealth sector the only area which will see growth over the coming years. It’s widely predicted that 2012 will see the rise of the health and wellness gadget sector as individuals – as well as organisations – turn to the latest technology to improve their overall health and fitness. January 2012 sees the Digital Health Summit at this year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas which should prove to be one of the key events of the year for those interested in Connected Health.

On display will be various mobile devices, medical apps and remote health sensors. There will also be numerous topics of discussion including ‘How are gaming and social networking revolutionising healthcare?’, ‘Diabetes and Obesity: How can technology change the outcomes’ and ‘Is technology changing the Doctor-Patient relationship? For more information go to the Digital Health Summit website.

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