Thursday, August 26, 2010

Healthcare handheld devices sales to reach $8.8 billion in 2010

Sales of handheld device for healthcare use are expected to increase by 7 percent in next five years, according to a recent report published by healthcare research company Kalorama Information.

Global sales of healthcare devices are expected to rise to $8.8 billion from $8.2 billion in 2009.

The report, titled: The Global Handheld Healthcare Device Market, focuses on Patient Monitoring Devices and Administrative Devices.  The authors wrote that stimulus incentives designed to spur hospitals and physicians to use EMR systems are among several factors that will drive growth.

According to InformationWeek the report shows that in 2009, patient monitoring products generated a market worth about $5.3 billion for 2009 with a market share of 64%. This accounts for the largest share of sales in the handheld market, largely due to the range of product availability, number of conditions requiring monitoring, and increasing demand for essential monitoring products in portable sizes, such as ultrasound and ECG. PDAs and Smartphones for healthcare applications were worth about $2.6 billion combined in 2009.

“The ARRA incentives for electronic medical records do not specifically reimburse doctors for devices,” said Bruce Carlson, Publisher of Kalorama Information. “But they are getting healthcare organizations to think about IT purchases, and they are helping to make the argument for better electronic data entry, something that we think will lead to increased sales for devices used to enter data.”

Other factors which impact the growth of the market are:

•    Growing and aging population, a
•    A shortage of qualified medical professionals
•    Cost restraints
•    Medical error reduction measures

“Healthcare workers need to be mobile, and so PDAs and monitoring devices have long been a good fit,” said Carlson.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

FDA to change medical device regulation to shorten approval time

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) intends to change regulations for medical device manufacturers in attempt to shorten approval time.

A report by news agency Bloomberg indicated that the FDA released proposed new requirements for the 510(k) program. According to Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, the FDA intends to grant device companies a more predictable process while asking them for additional safety data.

Shuren said device makers will be asked to provide a complete summary of all information about the safety of their products. This will include clinical studies relevant to a product. 

The FDA intends to create a Science Council for its medical device unit to “assure quality and consistency” about “some of the tougher science questions,” Shuren said.

The agency also plans to streamline the application process for a category of devices that aren’t similar to earlier products and are deemed to have a low enough safety risk that human studies aren’t needed, Shuren said. The “de novo” process, a subject of frequent complaints by the device industry, has been plagued by “lengthy review timeframes and nontransparent data requirements,” Shuren said.

The agency expects to begin making the changes later this year after a 60-day public comment period, Shuren said.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mobile networks to bring health relief to Africa

Surging investments in mobile networks in Africa are expected to lead to a sharp increase in the usage of cellular infrastructure to improve health services.

The World Bank has recently announced an investment of $63.66 million in a regional network of 25 public health laboratories in Africa. The network will improve access to diagnostic services. The new multi-country laboratory network will help identify potentially devastating disease outbreaks at an early stage and enable African countries to act quickly and prevent the rapid spread of diseases across borders.

Among others, the new network will support the roll-out of new technology for drug resistance monitoring and provide for more efficient tuberculosis diagnosis most notably for people living with HIV/AIDS.

The project will include web-based knowledge sharing, e-learning modules, and health alerts. The project also supports joint training and capacity building across countries, joint operational research, regional coordination, and program management.

In the majority of African countries, penetration rates of mobile telephony stand at a moderate 25% creating a potential market of 500 million new subscribers. The potential is already attracting multinational mobile operators, who seek growth away from their stagnated markets.

A recent report in This is Africa illustrates how much potential there still is in Africa. It shows the case of the mobile market in Zimbabwe in which the subscriber base of local operator Econet more than tripled in 2009 from 1.2 million to 4 million.

The BBC has recently forecasted that the explosion of mobile use in developing countries will help transform health care. It gave as an example the story of DataDyne, which uses mobiles to gather information about vaccination rates and instances of HIV in Kenya.

According to Joel Selanikio, co-founder of DataDyne, while internet access via desktop or laptop computers is not readily available to all, many people, even in the developing world, have a mobile phone.

"We haven't even begun to realize what it means when every health worker, every schoolteacher, when literally everyone has a connection to the internet," Selanikio told The Guardian. "People underestimate the effects this change is having. I think it will rival the printing press for its effects on society."

Since DataDyne's software, episurveyor, became a mobile web application, its business has exploded with 2,000 downloads across 120 countries. With a company staff of just 10, this growth wouldn't have been possible if the software wasn't easy to use.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wall Street Journal: eHealth solutions save money and improve heart patient's quality of life

Remote monitoring of health problems for congestive heart failure (CHF) patients saves money and makes users life much easier, according to an article published in The Wall Street Journal.

The article stated that technology – which allows heart patients take readings like their weight, blood pressure and other key metrics using wireless and other technologies - is gaining traction.

The paper gave the example of Carolyn Brown, a 63-year-old retired teacher's aide from Bronx, N.Y., who started using a new monitoring system after she suffered two heart attacks.

The program puts a scale, blood-pressure cuff and glucose monitor into patients' homes and then collects the data daily via wireless or landline. The data is transmitted to a case manager or medical care giver allowing them to catch, and address, warning signs before the patient lands in the emergency room with shortness of breath or a heart attack. 

The featured equipment includes Aerotel's Connect-Cell, which is a Cellular-Based Homecare Data Hub enabling users to easily transmit vital signs data via the cellular network (GPRS) to a central monitoring center.
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corp., says it pays about $6,300 for a Medicaid heart patient's typical hospital stay while the cost for the remote monitoring system is only $626.

"It is more important than ever for health plans and patients to combat medical costs, growing at a clip of between 6% and 9% a year, according to various estimates," the Wall Street Journal said. "Heart failure is a leading cause of hospital readmissions, with about 25% of patients returning to the hospital within 30 days. It's also one of the biggest single claims expenses at insurance companies. Aetna estimates that 40% of readmissions are avoidable".

The paper added that, a new study of 1,450 patients that published by Circulation,
the journal of the American Heart Association, showed that implantable defibrillators that wirelessly transmit data on the patient's heart function reduced in-hospital evaluations by 45%. Suspected cardiac events were evaluated in less than two days compared with 36 days.