Rapid growth in wearable wireless monitoring

Wireless networking, already widely adopted by healthcare facilities across Germany, France and the United Kingdom, is set for "rapid growth", according to a report by the global market consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan (F&S). More emphasis on home care, plus heightened awareness of the benefits of remote monitoring, and technological developments that improve patient flexibility as well as present substantial cost savings to healthcare authorities, will result in the predicted growth in the European wearable wireless patient monitoring market in the next 4-5 years.

In addition to already recognised advantages to patients’ health and hospital costs, wireless systems are also helping avoid the very high costs involved in the laying of wires and cables in hospitals, says F&S Senior Research Analyst Aarati Ajay. ‘The return on investment is higher than that provided by wired systems, and with advancements in wireless technology, the systems are likely to reach higher standards of sophistication.’

According to the report, technological progress is likely to assuage concerns over the reliability of vital signs data transmitted over shared wireless networks. The ability of sophisticated wireless wearable sensor networks to ensure the safety and integrity of such data is set to drive adoption levels over the next 5-7 years, with growth opportunities arising in hospital and homecare settings.
However, minor technical challenges still exist. ‘There are several competing technology platforms that are being tested to create unique patient area networks.’

Concerns also linger about regulatory challenges and high outlays involved in achieving cost-benefit data. The process of accumulating cost-benefit data needed to receive regulatory approvals is lengthy and extremely expensive. Additionally, sufficient clinical data must be presented to medical practitioners to convince them of the value of novel devices. Accordingly, only large, established companies can attempt to introduce these new technologies, and they need to unite to promote cooperation over cooperation. Conclusion: ‘There needs to be a consensus regarding the wireless models required, interoperability issues and security standards that should be used in these devices.’

Report: Strategic Opportunities Assessment for Wearable Wireless Patient Monitoring Markets in Europe (B757-56). Details: http://patientmonitoring.frost.com

01.05.2006

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