Telehealth device shipments could exceed 2 million by 2013, says market research firm

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Patients are taking healthcare IT into their own hands, according to a survey that was conducted by market research firm InMedica. The growing telehealth industry could see shipments of home-care devices, such as blood glucose meters, pulse oximeters, blood pressure monitoring devices and weight scales, increase to more than 2 million by 2013, according to the report.

The telehealth device market is focused predominantly on devices that monitor medical conditions such as chronic esophageal pulmonary disorder, diabetes, hypertension and congestive heart failure. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs is the largest single healthcare organization to make extensive use of telehealth medical devices, with more than 30,000 subscribers using such products.

InMedica estimates that continued growth of the telehealth sector could be worth more than $1 billion by 2016 and could expand to a $16 billion per year industry by 2020. The U.S. accounts for the largest market share of the telehealth industry, but experts have observed increasing demand for telehealth products and services in countries such as the UK, Germany, Holland and Denmark.

“We don’t have the capacity in the U.S. system for people to simply passively get ill and then rely on the healthcare system to fix them,” Mary Beth Chalk, founder of Boston-based healthcare IT startup Healthrageous, told Information Week. “There aren’t enough physicians to go around, and there’s not enough money. So there really isn’t any choice but to figure out how to leverage technology to enable consumers to become more effective in self-managing their illness[es].”

In addition to the predicted growth in sales of home healthcare monitoring devices, supply and demand of web-based health monitoring subscription services will rise, according to marketing analyst Neha Khandelwal. Such services, she says, are likely to coincide with the growing popularity of offerings such as Google Health and Microsoft’s Health Vault.