The Internet of Things revolves around emerging use cases. If you want to see meaningful applications, then look to healthcare. According to the latest market study by Berg Insight, around 3.0 million patients worldwide were already using connected home medical monitoring devices at the end of 2013.
This current installed base comprises all patients that were remotely monitored by a professional caregiver in the healthcare industry. Note, patients that use connected medical devices for personal health and fitness tracking are not included in this figure.
By 2018, Berg Insight estimates that the number of patients using connected home medical monitoring devices will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 44.4 percent to 19.1 million.
The main application is monitoring of patients with implantable cardiac rhythm management (CRM) devices, which with 2.0 million connections accounted for nearly two thirds of all connected home medical monitoring devices in 2013.
Sleep therapy and telehealth are the second and third largest segments with 0.54 million and 0.34 million connections respectively at the end of the year.
All other device categories – including ECG, glucose level, medication adherence, blood pressure, air flow, home sleep tests, blood oxygen and coagulation monitoring – stood for less than 0.1 million connections each.
Berg Insight expects that CRM will remain the single largest device segment throughout the forecast period, growing at a CAGR of 15.1 percent to 4.0 million connections by 2018. However, the CRM segment will 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.
Today, more than 70 percent of all connected medical devices rely on PSTN or LAN connectivity for transmitting measurement data to caregivers. However, 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.
A third alternative is that patients use their own mobile devices as health hubs. The bring your own device (BYOD) model can in theory be very cost-efficient as no dedicated hardware or subscriptions are needed, but accounted for less than one percent of all connections in 2013.
"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. The main limitation is in the lack of interoperability between medical monitoring devices, smartphones and tablets," says Lars Kurkinen, senior analyst at Berg Insight.
Berg Insight believes that mHealth connectivity platforms -- such as 2net Mobile from Qualcomm Life and HealthKit from Apple -- are emerging as promising solutions and can allow BYOD health hubs to become the favored alternative for several groups of patients such as diabetics and asthmatics.