Dose of mHealth Good for Telcos: Berg
The increasing implementation of value-based care, which makes healthcare providers and patients financially responsible for their medical conditions beyond the time of treatment, is spurring adoption of data-intensive solutions that will generate vigorous growth for mHealth, or the "application of telecommunications in medicine," according to Berg Insight.
Indeed, by 2023 there will be 83.4 million remotely monitored patients worldwide, increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31% from 16.5 million in 2017, the research firm predicted in a new report, "mHealth and Home Monitoring." This does not include connected medical devices used for personal health tracking, such as those consumers don to count steps or calories, for example.
Fixed-broadband providers want to leverage the gigabit power they're increasingly delivering to residential subscribers. With their increased emphasis on residential WiFi and vendors' offerings that incorporate everything from Amazon Alexa to whole-home, high-speed coverage, operators have an opportunity to extend into complementary, data-intensive markets like mHealth, said Sebastian Hellström, IoT analyst at Berg Institute, via email.
"We believe WiFi and other home-based connectivity models will remain an option in more stationary monitoring segments such as sleep therapy monitoring, sleep diagnostics and multiparameter monitoring solutions that rely on hubs," he said. "However, the BYOD (bring your own device) model where patients use their own smartphone -- which in turn rely on cellular or WiFi connectivity -- is a more promising connectivity option for remote monitoring. As healthcare providers try to involve patients in their own care by using patient engagement applications, it becomes natural to also collect biometric data via the apps rather than using separate connections."
Whether or how providers store or otherwise become involved in patient data varies intensely on geography and data privacy laws. In Europe, for example, health data must be stored locally on healthcare providers' own servers, Hellström said, eliminating any potential for cloud-based services.
However, mHealth software platform developers believe patients will gain more control over this data in the future -- perhaps even to the point where individuals can distribute this information to physicians, specialists and other providers, or even sell their health data to researchers, he said. Backpack Health, for one, recently debuted a platform that gives patients that control, Hellström added.
"When it comes to cloud storage some rely on traditional cloud-storage actors such as Microsoft Azure. There are also connectivity providers that offer specialised connectivity management features important to the healthcare industry, such as a full audit trail," he said. "These providers include eDevice and Vodafone, which are using proprietary connectivity management platforms."
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.
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