The world market for telehealth looks set to exceed $1 billion by 2016 and could jump to as much as $6 billion in 2020, according to a new report.
Telehealth is the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies, and one of the main drivers of the increase in the market will be home monitoring of patients, according to InMedica, the study's publisher.
"Many public healthcare systems now have targets to reduce both the number of hospital visits and the length of stay in hospital," according to Diane Wilkinson, research manager at InMedica.
"This has led to a growing trend for healthcare to be managed outside the traditional hospital environment, and as a result, there is a growing trend for patients to be monitored in their home environment … once their treatment is complete."
The rise in home-monitoring is in turn related to the changing management of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes, says the report.
Devices such as blood glucose meters, pulse oximeters, weight scales and peak flow meters are being deployed to monitor four main diseases: congestive heart failure; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; diabetes and hypertension.
"By far the most established market for telehealth at present is the US, as evidenced by The Veteran's Health Administration's extensive home telehealth service, which aims to have 92,000 patients enrolled on Telehealth services by 2012," said Wilkinson.
"There has also been some large-scale trial activity in Europe, most notably in the UK in 2010 and 2011, where primary care trusts have initiated some projects involving more than 2,000 patients."
InMedica noted that there is a convergence of many different industries in this space, including telehealth companies, device manufacturers, healthcare agencies, service providers and telecommunication and this is increasing motivation "for the full acceptance of telehealth from governments, physicians and patients alike."