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Thursday, October 09, 2014

Healthcare Firms will Invest in New Software Apps

The digital health industry, as a concept, can be seen as the intersection of several industries -- the healthcare industry itself, the consumer electronics industry, the mobile industry and the broader IT industry, required for the establishment of EHRs (Electronic Health Records), for example.

Though the healthcare sector has been in existence for hundreds of years, it is often accused of being very slow to adapt to the apparent market needs and technology advances outside of the medical profession.

However forces acting upon it now, such as the increase in the proportion of the population who are of retirement age, are prompting a rethink as to how healthcare should be addressed. Many initiatives and concepts, such as accountable care, will need a modern digitized infrastructure to succeed.

Healthcare focused smartphone interfaces launched by Samsung and Apple will be instrumental in propelling the global healthcare accessory hardware market to $3 billion by 2019, according to the latest market study by Juniper Research.


The findings from their global study uncovered that greater visibility and availability of healthcare smartphone platforms will encourage independent device manufacturers to launch a wider array of increasingly sophisticated mHealth products. Such devices include blood pressure cuffs, oximeters for diabetes and sleep monitors for sleep apnoea.

However, they also observed that although Apple’s HealthKit and Samsung’s SAMI (Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions) user interfaces will popularize consumer digital health, they could also impact the opportunity for bespoke remote patient monitoring devices.

"As health platforms support more ‘medical’ devices, rather than just today’s fitness trackers, they will usurp the territory occupied by chronic disease monitoring companies," said Anthony Cox, associate analyst at Juniper Research.

Juniper also notes that, driven by aging populations and increased chronic disease incidence in America, ObamaCare is bringing about a re-think in how healthcare needs should be addressed, with the medical profession increasingly considering the role of digital health.

This transformation will occur in several ways including:
  • Healthcare companies investing in major digital healthcare players such as Epocrates and AirStrip;
  • Advanced EHR (Electronic Health Records) becoming the ‘glue’ to create wider digital health ecosystems; and,
  • Regulatory authorities embracing the role of digital health and imposing less stringent regulatory obligations on digital health companies

Juniper also found that despite a more positive outlook for the digital health industry’s future, widespread, well-documented trials are still needed to galvanize the adoption of remote patient monitoring projects. Furthermore questions remain over how digital healthcare projects will be reimbursed.