The market for smart health devices is expanding, with a compound annual growth rate of 26% between 2016 and 2021. This growth is driven by several concurrent trends. On the demand side, an aging population with a high incidence of non-communicable diseases is demanding new tools to retain its independence, at the same time as hospitals and clinics are being stretched to meet increased demand. On the supply side, new technologies offering wireless connectivity, data sensing, and cloud analytics hold the promise to improve almost every aspect of the healthcare sector.
Key driver 1 — Demographics
As the population ages, demands on healthcare providers are evolving. Non-communicable diseases that require long term management are expanding, already making up an increasing fraction of doctor’s visits. The elderly, who increasingly live separate from their families, expect to retain their independence, their autonomy, and their privacy for longer, while at the same time having access to remote medical supervision and, when necessary, help. Elderly homes and other facilities may also be unaffordable to the very people they are designed to serve.
Key driver 2 — Stretched resources in hospitals
With the constantly increasing cost of healthcare, public hospitals around the world are struggling to meet growing needs with reduced financial resources. The consequences are often long waiting lists for consultations and surgeries, with faster patient turn-around, ultimately leading to more frequent hospital readmissions. Technologies such as automated bed-side monitoring can improve the quality of treatment in the hospital, while remote patient monitoring gives physicians access to patient data when they are at home, freeing up capacity in hospitals and saving costs.
Key driver 3 — The promise of Big Health Data
On-patient monitoring equipment and connected medical devices generate massive amounts of data. By analyzing these data on large cohorts, medical professionals have a new way to gain insight into the efficacy of treatments strategies and drugs, and deepen the understanding of pathologies and their relationship with behavior and lifestyle. By augmenting Big Data analytics with artificial intelligence, patterns that would otherwise be missed can be picked up and translated into learnings.
Key driver 4 — Overall operational security and robustness
Connected devices increase the overall operational security and robustness of medical facilities. Encryption, authentication, and continuous technological innovation in wireless connectivity are bringing new levels of operational security and robustness to medical communication infrastructure. Connected devices can also provide an automatic double-check that patients receive the right amounts of the right medication. They can also save lives and resources in emergency situations, for instance, by enabling incoming ambulances to send real-time patient data to the hospital so that the medical team in the emergency room is optimally prepared when the patient comes in.