Tight budgets and emergency room overcrowding will contribute to the uptick in remote and wireless patient monitoring systems to track vital signs. By 2016, the U.S. market will top $20 billion, new research says.

The U.S. market for advanced patient monitoring systems has grown from $3.9 billion in 2007 to $8.9 billion in 2011 and is forecast to reach $20.9 billion by 2016, according to a study by Kalorama Information. Efforts to reduce costs in healthcare, avoid emergency room overcrowding, and prepare for a growing number of elderly patients in the years to come are a few of the drivers for the adoption of these systems.

In Kalorama Information’s recently publishedreport, “Remote and Wireless Patient Monitoring Markets”, researchers predict the U.S. healthcare system faces “a looming healthcare crisis of unseen proportions,” and there will be fewer healthcare personnel and funds to address the industry’s growing needs.

The report notes that in the U.S. there are over 35 million hospital admissions each year, and nearly 120 million people visit a hospital emergency room. The sheer volume of patients requires a significant number of hospital resources such as staff and available beds, but hospitals are hard pressed to meet these needs.

According to the report, hospitals, physician offices, home healthcare facilities and nursing homes will embrace remote and wireless patient monitoring devices, such as blood pressure monitors and glucose meters, to transmit patient data between different locations using wireless networks.

Advances in remote patient monitoring include new peripherals, real-time audio and video for “face-to-face” interaction between clinicians and patients, and devices that are expected to transmit data to a physician’s EMR system or will add the feature during the next four years, the report states.

In addition to the growing development of devices that monitor multiple vital signs—for example, a glucose monitor that can also track a patient’s blood pressure–the report cites another trend: the increasing use of patient monitoring systems that come with data processing applications and equipment that use algorithms to evaluate monitoring measurements for a patient’s specific condition.

New technologies in patient monitoring are designed to reduce spending and streamline patient care while reducing patient risk such as medical errors and hospital infections, said Melissa Elder, Kalorama Information analyst and author of the report.

Elder thought it interesting that developers are quickly introducing new products with wireless capabilities that can do more than collect and send clinical data. This, along with an increase in patients’ use of these devices, can ease the workload at provider organizations.

“Patient-involved healthcare is on the rise and wireless technologies have catered to this trend,” Elder said in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. “Some of the challenges [at healthcare delivery organizations] can be somewhat offset by implementing newer patient monitoring technologies capable of not only monitoring patients, but sorting data, and automatically updating patient records. This allows health staff to provide care more efficiently and also monitor patients in off-site locations.”

Elder said there are barriers to the adoption of the technology, such asprivacy concerns with wireless systems, compatibility between systems, and financial pressures that come with limited budgets. But the need for patient monitoring systems will far outweigh any excuses not to adopt the new technologies, the report says.


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