Broadband Communities

JAN-FEB 2013

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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Telemedicine Telemedicine News Roundup Medical monitoring devices gain traction … AT&T adds a house call application to its ForHealth telemedicine suite … Telemedicine serves researchers at the South Pole … The FCC revamps its Rural Health Care program. Consumers Go All-Out for Wearable Wireless Devices; Health Care Providers Wait and See If you've always wanted real-time reports on your brain wave activity or blood oxidation levels, now is your chance. Wearable wireless devices are the latest trend in telehealth, according to a new study by ABI Research. By the end of 2012, nearly 30 million such devices will have shipped – 37 percent more than in 2011 – and the market is set to grow at that clip for at least the next fve years. Runners have worn heart-rate monitors for years, but new devices are available to measure everything from glucose levels to blood pressure. Some can even be built into clothing or footwear. Driving the trend is easy, low-cost connectivity between wearable devices and mobile handsets – and from handsets to the Internet – which allows users to not only view data in real time but also store and analyze it. Today's popular smartphones, including Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy III, come equipped with Bluetooth Smart Ready connectivity, allowing them to communicate with nearby sensors. Vendors such as Polar, Garmin, Nike and Adidas have expanded their wearable wireless sensor oferings, and start-ups have come to market with offerings that extend the use of collected data, creating what ABI analyst Jona- New wearable devices track and transmit health information continuously. than Collins calls a wave of innovation and investment. Medical Monitoring Body-parameter tracking isn't only for exercise fends and the worried well. Wireless connectivity is also entering medical markets, including home monitoring for aging in place and remote monitoring of long-term conditions. However, the number of patients enrolled in telehealth monitoring programs is still small – about 240,000 worldwide, according to InMedica, a division of IHS – and telehealth device revenues grew by only 18 percent between 2011 and 2012. Te slow adoption of telehealth devices by medical providers isn't due to lack of interest in their medical potential (though InMedica points out that tools and technologies still need to be refned). Rather, InMedica attributes this slow growth to poor economic conditions in Europe, which restrict health care funding, and to regulatory uncertainty in the United States. Is telemedicine a new revenue opportunity for broadband service providers? Find out at the BroadBand Communities Summit. 64 According to InMedica, although the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began penalizing U.S. hospitals for readmissions in October 2012, many health care providers are still unclear about the potential impacts on their institutions and have yet to implement post–acute care plans. Providers told InMedica that fee-for-service makes telehealth a challenge, but a system that paid them to keep patients healthy would give them incentives to move forward with telehealth. Te U.S. government certainly has an incentive to address the rise in chronic conditions such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and obesity in a rapidly aging population, all of which fuel the explosion in health care costs. CMS is already interested in telehealth, listing it as one of 13 possible models to reduce hospital readmissions. As regulatory issues begin to be resolved in 2013, InMedica forecasts that the telehealth market will grow by 55 percent worldwide in terms of device and service revenues – but, as InMedica analyst Shane Walker warns, "Tere is still much work to be done in advancing the state of telehealth in the U.S." | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | January/February 2013

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