The growing popularity of health-care focused smartphone interfaces from companies like Apple and Samsung validates the increasing consumerization of digital health and the role smartphones play in shaping human lives.
A recent report from Juniper Research estimates that healthcare accessory hardware market propelled by healthcare focused smartphone interfaces will touch $3 billion by 2019. These devices include blood pressure cuffs, oximeters for diabetes and sleep monitors for sleep apnoea.
Technologies like Apple’s HealthKit and Samsung’s SAMI (Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions) user interfaces will undoubtedly popularize consumer digital health; however, they could also impact the opportunity for bespoke remote patient monitoring devices.
The report – Digital Health: Remote Monitoring, Smart Accessories & EHR Cost Savings 2014-2019 – argues that greater visibility and availability of healthcare smartphone platforms will encourage independent device manufacturers to launch a wider array of increasingly sophisticated mHealth products.
As Anthony Cox, report author, notes, “As health platforms support more ‘medical’ devices, rather than just today’s fitness trackers, they will usurp the territory occupied by chronic disease monitoring companies.”
There are several factors that drive digital health trends like Apple’s HealthKit and Samsung’s SAMI. ObamaCare, for example, brings about a re-think in how healthcare needs should be addressed, with the medical profession increasingly considering the role of digital health.
This trend, according to Juniper Research, will manifest itself in several ways including:
- Healthcare companies investing in major digital healthcare players such as Epocrates and AirStrip;
- Advanced EHR (Electronic Health Records) becoming the ‘glue’ to create wider digital health ecosystems; and,
- Regulatory authorities embracing the role of digital health and imposing less stringent regulatory obligations on digital health companies
It found that despite a more positive outlook for the digital health industry’s future, widespread, well-documented trials are still needed to galvanize take-up of remote patient monitoring projects. Furthermore questions remain over how digital healthcare projects will be reimbursed.