Healthcare providers are increasingly using wireless technology to minimise the cost and disruption associated with the deployment of innovative ehealth and telecare services.
According to a report published this week by Cambridge UK based analysts, Wireless Healthcare, when healthcare providers are looking for technology that will reduce the cost of care, wireless is often the networking platform of choice.
The report, "Wireless Healthcare 2008", also identifies a number of consumer electronics companies that are seeking a safe harbour in the healthcare market as the recession impacts on their traditional markets. However, Wireless Healthcare warns that as a significant number of medical devices are purchased privately the healthcare market could also be adversely affected by the economic downturn. Peter Kruger, Analyst with Wireless Healthcare, points out, "Senior citizens, regarded as a key driver in the medical device market, sometimes fund their healthcare by withdrawing equity from their homes - something they will be unable to do when property values fall". Despite this, the report predicts continued growth in the market for fitness and wellbeing devices.
In Wireless Healthcare's last major study of the healthcare IT sector the lack of back office infrastructure, particularly electronic patient records (EPR), was highlighted as an inhibiter within the wireless medical device market. The latest report notes that some healthcare providers in the US and Europe have started to roll out EPR but sees incumbent providers facing increased competition from next generation healthcare providers who are deploying Health 2.0 based services.
"While there is a significant amount of hype regarding Health 2.0 a key component of this new healthcare concept, hosted patient records, will become increasingly important in driving demand for wireless ehealth services," states Kruger, who goes on to say, "We are seeing medical device vendors marketing products as 'Google Health ready' or building ehealth services using the Microsoft HealthVault SDK".
The report explains that while hosted patient records are a controversial issue within the healthcare sector they do provide the medical device developer with an alternative entry point into the healthcare market.