Report: More monitoring for mHealth devices

Perceptions about PERS users are something to overcome
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

LONDON—The market for monitored mHealth devices is on the rise globally from 2016 to 2021, and North America will be the largest market in the forecast period.

The report examines the number of products shipped to certain geographies. “North America is going to see shipments rise from around 3.5 million in 2016 to nearly 12 million in 2021,” Stephanie Lawrence, research analyst for ABI Research, told Security Systems News.

The report covers several types of mHealth devices, including PERS, mPERS, activity tracking, fall detection and additional home sensors such as medication reminders. Most of these devices would be professionally monitored, with exception of movement-tracking devices, which are typically monitored by family members.

Movement-tracking devices, PERS and mPERS systems are currently popular products, Lawrence said. “PERS devices are going to see shipments rise from around 2.7 million in 2016 to around 6.3 million in 2021,” she said. “MPERS devices are going to see a CAGR from 2016 to 2021 of 45 percent.”

The report covers specific companies, including security companies “such as ADT and how they integrate these PERS systems into other movement-tracking systems, so that they can get more [sorts] of monitoring to help the [users].”

Lawrence said mHealth devices are being used for new demographics. “Originally, they were just for the elderly wanting to age in place, [those who] don’t want to move into care homes,” she said. “Now, they’re also being used for other vulnerable people, such as people with disabilities, people with Alzheimer’s or dementia.”

The market is driven in part by families becoming more dispersed, Lawrence said. In contrast to decades ago, elderly parents frequently do not live close to children or other relatives.

Perceptions about users could be a challenge for the market, Lawrence said. “Elderly people don’t want to feel like every movement of their day is going to be watched,” she said. “Some people don’t want to feel like they’re being branded as ‘old’ and ‘weak.’ They think ‘If I’ve got this device it means I’m weak, I’m not going to have it.’”

PERS companies will likely work on improving the look of PERS devices, Lawrence said, “I think a lot of the [PERS] companies are going to look into making these devices look much nicer, look more like jewelry or watches—something that's nicer for the wearer to show off.”

System costs can also be prohibitive for the market. “The cost is coming down, but it’s still quite high for a lot of people, especially for the more mobile systems,” she said.

Awareness is another potential stumbling block for the mHealth device market, according to Lawrence. “They’re kind of overshadowed by other sorts of wearable technologies, like smart watches and activity trackers.”

Lawrence identified ADT, Phillips, Medical Care Alert and Tunstall Health Care as key monitored mHealth device vendors.