Wireless technologies to play increasingly central role in healthcare
9 March 2006
London. The nascent European wearable wireless patient monitoring markets
are likely to see rapid growth over the next four to five years. Heightened
awareness about the benefits of remote monitoring combined with the growing
popularity of homecare is likely to boost the uptake of wearable wireless
patient monitoring systems. Moreover, technological developments that will
support improved patient flexibility while offering substantial cost savings
to healthcare authorities are likely to support these trends.
The expanded adoption of remote monitoring and homecare in the healthcare
environment is giving a fillip to enabling technologies such as wearable
patient monitoring systems. Based on patient area networks, wearable patient
monitoring platforms are ideally suited to facilitating flexible treatment
regimes. Such technologies are also providing impetus to the transition of
European healthcare systems towards expanded use of homecare.
The development of wearable wireless monitoring systems has significantly
improved patient mobility. Wearable wireless sensor networks have the
advantage of being less restrictive in terms of the movement of patients
than traditional telemetry systems. This has helped accelerate the patient
At the same time, such technology is also encouraging expanded patient
flows from hospitals to homecare settings. This, in turn, is resulting in
substantial cost savings for healthcare facilities.
"In addition to enhancing patient comfort, speeding the recovery process
and supporting greater patient flows to cost-effective homecare settings,
wireless systems are also helping avoid the very high costs involved in the
laying of wires and cables in hospitals," says Frost & Sullivan Senior
Research Analyst Aarati Ajay. "The return on investment is higher than that
provided by wired systems and with advancements in wireless technology, the
systems are likely to reach higher standards of sophistication."
As a technology that helps reduce the tremendous cost burdens on hospital
authorities, wireless networking has been widely adopted by healthcare
facilities across Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Technological
advances that enable superior product development will further bolster
For instance, technological progress is likely to assuage concerns over
the reliability of vital signs data transmitted over shared wireless
networks. The ability of sophisticated wireless wearable sensor networks to
ensure the safety and integrity of such data is set to drive adoption levels
over the next 5-7 years, with growth opportunities arising in hospital as
well as homecare settings.
"While significant progress has been made, the technologies that have
been considered for the development of these wearable devices are still
facing minor technical challenges," cautions Ms. Ajay. "There are several
competing technology platforms that are being tested to create unique
patient area networks."
Apart from technology issues, concerns also linger about regulatory
challenges and the high outlays involved in achieving cost-benefit data. The
process of accumulating cost-benefit data needed in order to receive
regulatory approvals is both lengthy and extremely expensive. In addition,
manufacturers have to present sufficient clinical data to medical
practitioners to convince them of the value of novel devices. Accordingly,
only large and established market participants can attempt to introduce
emerging technologies in the market.
"At this stage where the market needs to be developed, vendors need to
come together and promote cooperation over competition," concludes Ms. Ajay.
"There needs to be a consensus with regards to the wireless models required,
interoperability issues and security standards that should be used in these
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