Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Remotely monitored patient numbers hit 4.9m, says Berg

Steve Rogerson
December 15, 2015
The number of remotely monitored patients worldwide grew by 51 per cent to 4.9 million in 2015 as the market entered a growth phase fuelled by rising market acceptance in several key verticals, according to Berg Insights.
This number includes all patients enrolled in mhealth care programmes in which connected medical devices are used as a part of the care regimen. Connected medical devices used for various forms of personal health tracking are not included in this figure.
Berg estimates that the number of remotely monitored patients will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48.9 per cent to reach 36.1 million by 2020.
The two main applications are monitoring of patients with implantable cardiac rhythm management (CRM) devices and monitoring of patients with sleep therapy devices. These two verticals accounted for 81 per cent of all connected home medical monitoring systems in 2015.
Telehealth is the third largest segment with 0.41 million connections at the end of the year. All other device categories – including ECG, glucose level, medication adherence and others – stood for less than 0.2 million connections each at the end of the year. The sleep therapy segment accounted for the majority of the market growth in 2015.
ResMed was especially successful with its Air Solutions family of sleep therapy devices that includes a cellular M2M module as standard and is supported by a range of health informatics software that enable healthcare organisations to provide better care more efficiently. ResMed surpassed Medtronic as the world’s largest provider of connected healthcare products for remote patient monitoring in 2015. Earlier in 2015, Medtronic became the first company in the world to surpass the milestone of one million remotely monitored patients.
Another landmark event in 2015 was that cellular connectivity surpassed PSTN and LAN as the most widely used connectivity technology for remote patient monitoring. The number of PSTN-connected devices has started to decline sharply as a result of the decline in PSTN subscriber bases and the forthcoming digitalisation of PSTN networks, whereas the use of LAN and Wifi connectivity for remote patient monitoring has remained very limited to date.
“Cellular continues to be the only technology that can be used to reliably connect every patient with their healthcare providers,” said Lars Kurkinen, senior analyst at Berg Insight.
An emerging 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 two per cent of all connections in 2015.
Kurkinen predicts that BYOD will be especially useful for patient-centric engagement programmes in therapeutic areas such as diabetes and asthma that have younger patient demographics compared with many other chronic diseases. In fact, many of these patients will prefer to use their own smartphone as the interface instead of carrying around a dedicated device for remote monitoring.
Revenues for remote patient monitoring (RPM) technology reached €6.2bn in 2015, including revenues from medical monitoring devices, mhealth connectivity, care delivery platforms and mhealth care programmes. RPM revenues are expected to grow at a CAGR of 32.1 per cent between 2015 and 2020, reaching €25.0bn at the end of the forecast period.
Savings attributable to payers and care providers will far exceed this amount as connected care can allow better health outcomes to be achieved more cost efficiently. The new care models enabled by these technologies are furthermore often consistent with patients’ preferences of living more healthy, active and independent lives. The healthcare industry is advancing towards an age where connected healthcare will be part of standard care practices.
“These are very exciting times for everyone involved in the industry,” said Kurkinen. “Mhealth solutions are approaching mainstream market acceptance and we are now very close to the tipping point.”
He describes how several market forces now are coming together that will make mhealth care programmes available for tens of millions of people in the next few years.
“Changes in the payment landscape is without doubt the most important factor,” he said. “This finally allows the incentives for payers, providers, patients and physicians to be aligned, which is absolutely crucial for the adoption of any new healthcare product.”
Another major trend is the consumerisation of medical-grade mhealth devices and apps. In the last few months of 2015, hundreds of thousands of consumers have connected medical monitoring devices via their smartphones to cloud platforms. This marks a shift that will open up new opportunities in the remote patient monitoring market in the coming years.
“Payers and healthcare providers will have opportunities to take advantage of this trend, as consumers that already have started to use connected medical devices more easily can be onboarded onto new mhealth care programmes,” said Kurkinen.