With 50% of U.S. broadband households having at least one chronic condition and 30% using at least one connected health device, the U.S. connected health market presents many opportunities for service providers.

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:

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."