In the second installment on this short series on “does a health future involve more technology and less property”, I explore the impact and future potential for the home monitoring market.

There’s no question that there is an opportunity for the home monitoring market currently, and as this article from digitalhealth.net nicely puts it: “Logic suggests that by putting the power literally in patients’ hands – in the form of remote monitoring devises, including wearables – you support people to better manage their own health”.

However, Adrian Flowerday, MD and co-founder of Docobo, a digital health provider, suggests that persuading commissioners and providers of the advantages of remote monitoring is not so easy, particularly because the provider landscape is fragmented. Others have found that it is difficult to convince providers to invest in this new tech when they won’t be able to see a return on investment for a number of years.

For many though, the benefits are clear. Richard Mangeolles, business manager for integrated care with Agfa Healthcare gives the example of a patient with a cardiac issue released from hospital with a remote monitoring or wearable device. Instead of multiple follow-up appointments or home care visits, the patient can measure and transmit vital signs such as blood pressure and temperature which can then be monitored by healthcare staff – without the need for an appointment, relieving the pressure at GP’s and hospitals for simpler/virtual post-op care.

Many commentators point to the lack of compatibility between devices and the ability to collect data in a useful holistic way suitable for analysis at scale. And, although participants in the market like Richard point to there being platforms available to capture information sufficiently, there are others who feel that the technology is not yet sophisticated enough.

An advancement in the home monitoring market, when it is done in partnership with the NHS, could offer a multitude of benefits to both the NHS and patients:

  • Patients might feel like they are taking control of their health again which provides a sense of empowerment. The number of blood pressure monitors available on pharmacy shelves has increased significantly in recent years, with monitors available for around £20 so there is clearly appetite.
  • Home monitoring could support nationwide plans to increase care in the community.
  • Widespread home monitoring of patients who are at risk of certain conditions should lead to better patient outcomes.
  • Freeing up of medical practitioner time to focus on preventative and urgent care.

The impact on physical healthcare space is less clear because there will always be patients for whom home monitoring isn’t a choice. Rather than reducing physical space, in the future we could see the need for the conversion of existing space (as a result of a reduced need for consultation rooms, for example) or the need for new space (depending on the quality of existing space) to enable the large scale storage and analysis of home monitoring data that has been captured.

There still seems to be a little way to go, but there’s no doubt relieving the pressures on the #NHS will be a goal for many.

Look out for the final part of this series where I discuss what healthcare tech means for the future of healthcare buildings.