London : Technavio’s latest report on the global connected health market provides an analysis on the most important trends expected to impact the market outlook from 2016-2020. Technavio defines an emerging trend as a factor that has the potential to significantly impact the market and contribute to its growth or decline.
Amber Chourasia, a lead health and wellness analyst from Technavio, says, “Connected health focuses on optimizing available healthcare resources to facilitate personalized, flexible options for client-physician interaction and self-care. It uses technology to deliver healthcare services remotely. Connected health programs leverage advanced technologies like connected devices using established cellular networks to offer solutions such as telehealth, home care, and disease and lifestyle management to improve healthcare for chronic conditions.”
The top three emerging trends driving the global connected health market according to Technavio research analysts are:
- The development of virtual nurses
- Increasing popularity of wearable devices
- Growing popularity of telemedicine
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“The current healthcare system faces a shortage of resources. The supply of experienced medical professionals has been insufficient to meet the rapidly growing demand for medical services. The shortage of nurses is one of the major reasons for a drop in the quality of medical services. Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, US has developed the concept of a virtual nurse to overcome this,” according to Amber.
Virtual nurses are a group of relational agents that act as a stand-in for front-line staff in hospitals. Their responsibility includes guiding patients on medication and other precautions necessary for their conditions. The virtual nurse created by Northeastern University, named Elizabeth, is being trialed at the Boston Medical Center. Virtual nurses will become an integral part of medical infrastructure in the future. Patients can interact with virtual nurses through on-screen options and contact real-life nurses in case of any doubts.
Increasing popularity of wearable devices
Wearable devices using advanced sensor technologies that track ECG, muscle activity, and breathing are being used extensively. These devices work on M2M technology as the exchange of data takes place between two devices. For instance, wearable devices capture the movements of a patient, and this data can be directly sent to a physician’s electronic devices. Also, these devices improve efficiency and reduce costs.
Initially, the adoption of wearable healthcare devices was confined to developed countries. However, the decline in the average selling price (ASP) of these devices has positively influenced price-sensitive consumers in developing countries. As a result, vendors are shifting their focus to developing countries to boost their revenue and expand their consumer base. The decline in the ASP of smart wearables has increased their adoption and led to the generation of large volumes of digital health data. The increased popularity of smart wearable devices to monitor patient health is an emerging trend that will propel the growth of the market during the forecast period.
Growing popularity of telemedicine
Telemedicine is the delivery of long-distance healthcare with the help of telecommunications technology. For instance, Google’s Helpouts is a telemedicine service that connects users, experts, and medical professionals online. More and more people are self-diagnosing with the help of telemedicine.
“Telemedicine technology has substantial potential in rural areas and developing economies such as Africa that experience a shortage of experienced physicians. Telemedicine helps in extended therapy, in which patients and therapists communicate remotely whenever a diagnosis or follow-up is required. The need for consumers to visit hospitals or clinics is thereby reduced,” says Amber. Telemedicine helps manage chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart diseases with remote monitoring and virtual visits. So, healthcare organizations have increased the adoption of telemedicine to harness the full potential of digital health technology.