High-tech patient monitoring systems earned $3.9B in 2007

Next-generation patient monitoring systems earned an estimated $3.9 billion for manufacturers in 2007, and this market could more than double in five years, according to a market research study by Kalorama Information, a life sciences research firm.

The report, “High-Tech Patient Monitoring Systems,” covers a new generation of patient monitoring devices, as well as data processing and EMR interface software that are crucial to the systems.

The report noted that an aging population and a shortage of healthcare workers have driven the development of systems that can monitor patients remotely, process data and even alert healthcare workers if there is a problem.

The care of patients with chronic diseases, such as asthma, congestive heart failure and diabetes, consumes a great deal of U.S. healthcare spending, but the conditions are also among those most amenable to patient monitoring, the report said. Kalorama said that better patient monitoring systems could allow that patients to leave the hospital sooner, thus reducing costs.

Given the demand, the report said that device manufacturers like Honeywell, GE Healthcare and Abbott have added wireless communication, data processing and web-interfacing features, which enable the systems to gather, sort and drop data into a patient's EMR for future review.The

Kalorama report said that the most useful patient monitoring systems are intelligent ones that can read the data based on pre-programmed algorithms for a patient's specific condition and automatically report to a healthcare worker or physician when measurements are abnormal.

“Data is important, but if your system only gathers data, you are just increasing the burden on the workers who have to then interpret that data,” said Melissa Elder, a Kalorama analyst. “The smart PM systems know that when a pre-defined number is hit, it’s time to call the doctor.”