According to a study by market research and consultancy firm Parks Associates, more than 50 percent of U.S. broadband households report having at least one chronic condition—mostly obesity or high cholesterol; more than 21 million households currently care for a family member with a chronic health condition or expect to do so in the near future; thirty percent of U.S. broadband households own and use at least one connected health device; and 42 percent have used at least one online health service offered by their doctors.
The findings, which were set to be discussed in detail at the recent Connected Health Summit in San Diego, reveal the extent to which the digital health industry may grow in the short and medium term. According to Harry Wang, Director, Health & Mobile Product Research for Parks and Associates, "The digital health industry is at a decisive juncture for significant growth forward; rallying consumer demand and fostering industry collaborations through technology and care model innovations are crucial to its success…”
A number of recently released metrics by Parks and Associates indicate robust growth opportunities for the digital health industry:
- Practices associated with PCMH (Patient Centered Medical Home) and ACO (Accountable Care Organization) models will manage nearly 40 million U.S. patients by 2015 and this number will increase to 130 million by 2017.
- The market for senior-focused independent living solutions is set to grow an average of 11% annually for the next five years, generating $1.4 billion in revenues in 2018.
- The number of doctor-patient video consultations will nearly triple, from 5.7 million in 2014 to over 16 million in 2015—and will exceed 130 million in 2018.
- Revenues from connected health products such as hardware, apps and wellness services in the United States will exceed $8 billion by 2018.
- Device manufacturers will sell more than 70 million personal health and wellness products in 2018 of which more than 55% will be network connected.
This research highlights how a consumer-centric approach will propel growth this year. As the number of connected devices increase, new prospects for fitness apps, health solutions, and data analytics will multiply. Fall detection, medicine dispensing monitoring, medication reminder services, home activity monitoring, location tracking services, home health vital sign monitoring and diagnostic device monitoring services are expected to be the big opportunities.
According to Wang, "Connected trackers will account for 52% of all digital fitness tracker unit sales in 2014 and reach 81% by 2018. Smart watches are another wearables category poised for tremendous growth, with sales of almost 18 million units worldwide in 2014 and 121 million in 2018. These connected devices open new avenues for new fitness apps, health solutions, and data analytics.” A recent Frost & Sullivan survey also emphasized this consumer focus, with industry leaders in telemedicine predicting that home and disease management and remote patient monitoring will top 2014 industry trends.
From Wang’s perspective, it’s going to be a big year: "2014 will be a pivotal year for consumer-centric healthcare solutions and services. The healthcare technology market is benefiting from a favorable policy environment, a groundswell of consumer interest, a brisk innovation cycle, and a growing eagerness among payers and providers for effective consumer/patient engagement."