Industry Trend Analysis - Opportunities For Communication Technology Driven Health Monitoring - DEC 2017


BMI View : The successful rollout of health monitoring services using communication technology will require both telecoms companies and device manufacturers to work with the public and private healthcare sector. Telecoms operators will need to ensure network availability and reliability, while device manufacturers will need to build the products to meet the specific needs of health monitoring projects.

The use of communication technology for the provision of health monitoring is a global commercial opportunity, with investment returns available in both emerging or developed markets. Health monitoring covers a wealth of services - including inter-sectoral communication in emergencies, the mobilisation of community healthcare projects, the provision of information for healthcare professionals at the point of care (including patient records and decision support systems) and the transmission of information and communication between healthcare professionals at different locations. The applications of health monitoring services therefore differ depending on the service needed and the state of the local healthcare system.

The key to health monitoring is connectivity, including broadband and Wi-Fi. As such, broadband unavailability is one of the biggest barriers to rolling out such services. Indeed, health monitoring relies on sending data easily and ensuring that the quality of information and/or images does not deteriorate. While the majority of developed markets have established broadband infrastructure, this is not the case in emerging markets where fixed broadband infrastructure is weak. Another limiting factor is the devices themselves. The devices used to capture images and data are just as important to the expansion of health monitoring projects and services. In communities where devices are not replaced often, durability and maintenance of these devices will play a key role in making health monitoring services financially viable.

Highlighting an emerging market application of mobile-based health monitoring, in October 2017, Samsung India and Apollo Hospitals announced the rollout of a Mobile Medical Care Unit Program to screen large sections of the country's population for non-communicable diseases. Mobile medical care units (buses) will be equipped with healthcare screening technology including electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, ultrasound, mammogram, pap smear and blood sample collection devices and kits. Screening procedures performed in remote locations will be processed and virtually reported to staff in Apollo Hospitals, bridging the gap between large hospitals located in urban areas and the people living in remote rural areas. The program will initially be launched in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

In July 2017, it was reported that an Enhanced Visual Assessment (EVA) system developed by Israeli company MobileODT (which includes a device, app and web-based system to support cervical cancer screening and treatment services, using cloud computing to allow practitioners to share vital data through linked networks) is being used at the Africa Cancer Institute at Stellenbosch University and by doctors at Wits University in Johannesburg to conduct clinical trials. The EVA System is already being used in Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, the Gambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Swaziland and Mozambique. Supporting the EVA mobile colposcope is Amazon's Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud, which allows for analytics capabilities and cloud-based algorithms that enable nurses and general practitioners to conduct colposcopies, with remote support and supervision. The real-time sharing of data through the AWS cloud allows for a more accurate screening process and faster reaction time for treatment.

Highlighting a demand for health monitoring services in developed markets, in Canada, nurses stationed in Pelican Narrows (a village in northern Saskatchewan) video-in doctors at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, the largest city in the province. With the help of a Remote Presence-7 (RP-7) robot, which is equipped with a stethoscope, ultrasound, dermatoscope, ophthamoloscope and otoscope, nurses can perform various tests with the guidance of the doctor appearing over the robot's video screen. The doctor can then view the video, images and graphs in real time on a computer screen and provide the necessary counsel.

Telecare Matrix Findings

One of the greatest benefits to health monitoring services is its ability to reach remote communities. We highlight that this makes it a key telecare service for emerging markets with larger rural communities. Sub-Saharan countries such as Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania stand out from our list of markets with large rural populations; a key factor in the potential success of health monitoring services. Larger countries, such as Australia and Canada, which have low population densities also offer similar opportunities, albeit for different reasons.

We note that countries that score high for opportunities also do so as a result of the size of the land that needs to be covered. This explains the presence of China, Australia, the US and Canada among the top rated markets. The use of health monitoring services can increase the efficiency of healthcare services in these markets, appealing to insurance companies and governments alike.

Developed And Emerging Markets Demonstrate A Demand For Health Monitoring
Health Monitoring: Markets For Investment
Source: BMI Research

Methodology

BMI's approach in assessing markets for telecare industry investors globally is two-fold.

  • Market Opportunity. We identify the demand for the particular telecare service (for health monitoring we assessed the population density, the proportion of the population that resides in a rural area and per capita health expenditure figures) which represents opportunities to would-be investors, assigning each market a 'high, medium or low' - which indicates the level opportunity for investors.

  • Tech Base. We identify the level of infrastructure (for health monitoring we assessed broadband subscription rates and size of the availability of 3G services) in place to deliver the particular telecare service which pose or could pose operational risks to would-be investors, assigning each market an 'excellent, average or poor' - which indicates the level of opportunity for investors.

We note that only the aspects that are most relevant to the type of telecare system being examined are incorporated into the assessment and each variable is weighted according to its importance in the provision of the service. Overall, the system offers an industry-leading, comparative insight into the opportunities/risks for companies looking to invest in the sector across the globe.