What Does This List Tell Us About the Present and Future for Medical Weara-bles, Medical IoT and mHealth?
The end of every calendar year brings a flurry of “Top Things of the Year” lists, and 2016 is no excep-tion. However, one difference 2016 is different than other years is that wireless medical devices (which include medical IoT devices and mHealth devices) are now included in that paradigm more than ever.
That’s not just hyperbole, either. Except for a slight hiccup in 2014, Google search results for annual “Top 10 Medical Wearables” have steadily increased each year for the past five years. In fact, since 2011, search results have grown nearly 41%!
Even more impressive is that this year’s growth by far exceeds any other year…even eclipsing 2013’s previous of 11.8% by 5.4 percentage points!
Below is a chart of the last five years’ Google search results for “Top 10 Medical Wearables of” and their growth (or shrinkage) rates:
2016: 19.1 M (+17.2) (40.4)
2015: 16.3 M (+4.5%)
2014: 15.6 M (-3.1%)
2013: 16.1 M (11.8%)
2012: 14.4 M (+5.9%)
2011: 13.6 M
One such list is GineersNow.com’s Top 10 Medical Wearables of 2016. Their concise and well thought out list admittedly is presented “without any ranking and in no particular order,” so analyzing it in those terms are immediately eliminated.
However, the purpose of analyzing the list is not intended to find agreement or disagreement with how it’s presented—much less what is actually on it. Rather, it is to glean insights from medical wearable de-vice experts about the current wireless medical device marketing and what is possibly in store for 2017 and beyond. Here are some key findings.
Wearable Medical Devices That Measure, Monitor or Provide Diagnostics are Dominant
Despite offering a diverse range of wearables, 80% had one thing in common: they explicitly performed some type of measurement, monitoring or diagnostic capability for relaying to the either the user (per-son wearing the device), the user’s doctor, or both. (It’s possible the all can or do perform these func-tions, but the list promote them as key features).
Although 30% of the devices on the list perform some type of blood pressure or pulse monitoring, the more intriguing number is with what percentage can monitor insulin and blood glucose (20% of the en-tire list and a quarter of devices that measure or monitor).
The takeaway: First, wearable medical devices that can capture, interpret and share user data are clearly leading the way. But, the fact that 25% of the device capable of doing this are also related to managing diabetes should come as no surprise considering that it is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
Wearable Medical Devices That Can Control or Release Medications are Getting Traction
Two of the medical wearables are designed to release medications (e.g., glucose or opiates)—and natu-rally, both also perform measurement, monitoring or diagnostics to determine the appropriate release volumes and frequencies.
The takeaway: Being able to use digital technology to precisely management medications has tremen-dous benefits, particularly with the challenge of getting a patient to take medications as directed.
Wearable Medical Devices That Can Aid in Pain Management are Also Getting Traction
Pain management is a crucial aspect of healthcare, but unfortunately is one that is difficult to diagnose and treat because of its relatively subjective and fleeting nature. And that is why it’s interesting to see that 20% of the wearable devices on the list are related to pain management, either for the monitoring and release of pain medications or for monitoring physical therapies for analysis by a doctor.
The takeaway: Mismanagement of pain can have devastating results. At best, the person that experi-ences the pain has a diminished quality of life. At worst, the person does not use pain medication properly and delays recovery or develops dependencies. Wearable devices that that improve pain man-agement have a tremendous market potential
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