Wearable healthcare devices expected to trend over next four years

Market forecasters predict that more and more patients will be wearing healthcare on their sleeves come 2016 as the demand climate for real-time data continues to heat up.

According to an IMS Research report released recently, the wearable wireless device market is expected to grow from 14 million items in 2012 to what could be as many as 171 million articles by 2016. The revenue projection for healthcare accessories is equally strapped — approximately $6 billion could be garnered over the upcoming four-year span, IMS “conservatively” posited; the market was purportedly worth $2 billion in 2011.

Such estimations hinge upon a series of feasible limitations, though. The list of possible detours includes a lack of proper technological components, “poor user compliance” and ultimately an experience that isn’t as “enhanced” as users would expect, analyst Theo Ahadome said.

Not only must buyer be-wearers shift their preconceptions and expectations to a more accommodating level, but physician practices are also required to push their IT systems proactively into the new dawn of donning devices. This reallocation of paradigms at both the provider and patient levels is a timely process, thus accounting once more for IMS’ tame hypotheses.    

"Physicians need this data to be integrated into their IT systems, and [they] will have to change their workflow to accept and use this external data," Ahadome added in an interview with InformationWeek. "There will be internal resistance from physicians who are used to standard patient visits. In the long run, once these issues are dealt with, it will lead to greater competition in the hospital and payer markets as patients begin to seek out those health organizations that deploy extended systems of care incorporating wearable technology."

Common wearable devices now are glucose and heart rate monitors, but experts and government entities are already making the move toward expansion. The Federal Communications Commission has approved a Medical Body Area Network (MBAN) radio spectrum meant for hospital use, although the intent is that MBAN will enter into the home eventually. MBAN monitors patient functions from a remote space, then sends the resulting vitals and data back to a public or private cloud system for evaluation. Sleep sensors are also being developed with a similar functionality.

Concerns regarding device security remain paramount — Ahadome assured that measures to bolster that arena are well underway.  

Find more on the IMS report here.

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