Mobile medics will shape the medical device market

Doctors on the move and domiciliary healthcare workers are changing the way patients are treated and are creating new and exciting opportunities for both medical device manufacturers and the consumer electronics industry, according to research by UK based analysts Wireless Healthcare.

22 July 2008. Cambridge, UK: The increase in the level of healthcare being delivered by mobile medical practitioners outside of hospitals will become a key driver within the medical device market over the next decade. According to a report by Cambridge UK based analysts Wireless Healthcare, as healthcare providers are pushing more diagnostic and monitoring processes out to the edge of their care networks, medical device vendors are responding by adding more advanced communications technology to their products.

The report, "Wireless Healthcare 2008", also identifies a number of consumer electronics companies that have successfully positioned their products within the mobile healthcare market. According to Peter Kruger, Analyst with Wireless Healthcare: "Some of these companies are attempting to emulate Polar Electronics, who have built a strong presence in the ehealth sector and use their sports and fitness monitoring technology to capture vital signs data in ehealth applications."

The report sees diet and fitness monitoring as a key entry point for companies coming into the medical device market, due to the fact that devices can be launched without the need for long, complex and expensive approval procedures. Sales of devices aimed at the preventative healthcare market are also being driven by ageing baby boomers, concerned enough about their health to purchase a device privately rather than wait for their healthcare provider to prescribe one. Wireless Healthcare points out that once established in the consumer healthcare market, vendors can add features to devices that will attract the attention of established healthcare providers.

Wireless Healthcare's research points to a degree of convergence occurring within the healthcare sector once incumbent healthcare providers have finished building their core IT infrastructure. Pressure from small "nextgen" healthcare providers will create a struggle to open up the last mile of the healthcare network - similar to the battle between small ISPs and incumbent Telcos during the late 1990s for access to the last mile of the telecommunications network. This time, however, according to Wireless Healthcare, the key weapon will be mobile, rather than fixed line communications technology.

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