Telehealth users forecast to exceed 55m  worldwide by 2016

31 January 2009

A new report from InMedica forecasts exceptional growth in the number of telehealth subscribers over the next decade due to the increased use of telehealth services for chronic disease management in professional care in tandem with growth in the consumer driven market for telehealth services.

The InMedica report, Opportunities in Telehealth: A Long Term View (2006 to 2016), forecasts that the total number of telehealth subscribers worldwide will increase to 55.5 million by 2016, representing a forecast CAGR of almost 72%.

The combined factors of ageing global population, increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, and the increasing public expectation for higher standards of care are all making telehealth services more attractive to patients as well as the healthcare providers.

Through regular monitoring and shifting of the treatment of many chronic conditions from medical institutions into patients’ homes, telehealth will help doctors manage patient care more efficiently. In fact, telehealth initiatives have been heralded as a potential saviour for heavily over-burdened healthcare systems.

While the latest telehealth trials have demonstrated that a well thought out telehealth system can both save costs and improve patient recovery, currently the number of telehealth subscribers is quite small.

According to InMedica the number stood at well under a million in 2008. There are several market barriers that have to date prevented the more widespread use of telehealth, such as the limited choice of telehealth products, the lack of data standards, doubts about data security and the integrity of data transmission and the limited reimbursement for telehealth.

However, many of these barriers are now being overcome. For example, recent data standards, such as the Bluetooth SIG Health Device Profile (HDP), USB Personal Healthcare Device Class and the ISO/IEEE 11073, will reduce development costs and speed time to market for manufacturers of wireless home use medical devices.

The first implementations of the Bluetooth SIG’s HDP are expected to hit the market in 2009.

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