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Mobile health market worth $41.8 billion by 2023, says Lux Research

The market for mobile health (mHealth) devices is projected to grow at an astonishing rate over the next few years, from $5.1 billion in 2013 to $41.8 billion by 2023, according to business intelligence consultancy Lux Research. While it has been overshadowed by the consumer devices market, which has received considerable media attention, clinical mHealth devices will surge after 2018 and emerge as the long-term winner, says Lux Research.

The reason clinical mHealth devices are late bloomers, relatively speaking, largely is attributed to the regulatory barriers that medical manufacturers must negotiate, but the medical community's conservative nature is also a factor, says Nick Kurkjy, Lux Research Associate and lead author of the report titled, mHealth Showdown: Consumer and Clinical Devices' Battle for Market Dominance.

"It can seem like physician workflow rules are set in stone," Kurkjy told PlasticsToday. "Doctors are among the slowest adopters of new technology," he adds. "That is understandable, because people's lives depend on what they do, and what they are doing is working." Health economics, however, is changing the playing field, and making mHealth an inevitable force.

Outcome-based reimbursement means that hospitals need to reduce the number of patient readmissions, as they will not be reimbursed if a patient has to return to the hospital shortly after a procedure. "It's obviously better for the patient and the payors if the patient is monitored at home and sent to the doctor, if needed, before the condition becomes a medical emergency that must be treated in a hospital setting," says Kurkjy.

The emphasis on preventive care in the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, also benefits expansion of mHealth technology. "Healthcare historically has been reactive," says Kurkjy. "mHealth enables a proactive approach and it can even go beyond that and be predictive." As one example, he cites Propeller Health, which markets a device that tracks inhaler use by patients with asthma or COPD and syncs the data with a smartphone. "It also tracks places in a community where symptoms are occuring most often, as well as the most common triggers in the patient's area," explains Kurkjy.

The in vitro diagnostics and clinical vital signs monitoring spaces are expected to be the primary growth drivers, accounting for 75% of the mHealth market by 2023. Monitoring applications, in particular, are projected to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46%, from $372 million in 2013 to $16 billion in 2023. By comparison during that same period, consumer applications will grow from $2.5 billion to $7 billion, an 11% CAGR, says Lux Research.

"Clinical devices will surpass their consumer counterparts in revenues by 2020, helped by value-added software services and generally larger revenue streams," says Kurkjy. "Clinical markets will be able to pay much more for comparable services, especially if a device is able to reduce patient recovery times or readmission rates, which can lead to outsized cost savings for the healthcare provider," he adds.

The consultancy notes that ubiquitous smartphones have spurred venture funding for mHealth devices, which has risen sharply since 2007 to reach $480 million in 2013, and that players need to be aware of vertical integration, as electronics and medical device companies begin to make acquisitions.

This forecast will undoubtedly energize the mHealth Summit later this year in Washington, DC. Described as the largest mobile health event in the world, the tradeshow and conference is scheduled for December 7 to 11, 2014, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.

TAGS: Medical
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