The total market for handheld devices in healthcare reached $11 billion globally in 2011, reflecting over 10% growth since 2007, according to Kalorama Information. There are a number of factors fueling growth, but the healthcare market research publisher sees the fastest growth in administrative devices — the kind of devices used by healthcare providers to enter patient data — as a sign that ‘meaningful use’ requirements for EMR systems are having an effect on this market.
The EMR incentive program, created by Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2009 to boost paperless medicine, was specifically designed not to reward mere purchases of software. To qualify for federal government incentives, hospital and physician groups are required to show that they have entered patient visits and transactions electronically.
“To qualify you have to show that your healthcare providers are actually using the EMR — entering patient data and ordering prescriptions electronically,” Kalorama Information publisher Bruce Carlson said. “We think that realistically it means handheld devices. Meaningful use of EMR means meaningful use of handhelds, as the patient-centered nature of healthcare work doesn’t permit a lot of desk time.”
Kalorama Information divides the market for handheld devices between patient monitoring and administrative use. Patient monitoring devices such as ultrasound and ECG systems have historically accounted for the largest share of sales in the handheld market, largely due to the range of product availability. However, this is changing with the growing applications and capabilities of tablet PCs, and the need to enter patient data electronically. Administrative device usage has exploded over the last five years with the growing use of PDAs, smartphones, and tablet PCs taking hold in the healthcare industry. Tablet PCs are being used for a variety of uses in the health field, including access to patient records at the point of care, improved viewing capabilities for medical images, and easy offsite patient monitoring.
EMR is not the only driver of handheld devices in healthcare. Several factors are driving the growth of this market, including cost restraints, medical error reduction measures, government incentives, expanding capabilities of devices, off-site medical care and more, according to Kalorama Information.
“The use of handheld devices in healthcare was growing before the first EMR payments were wired,” said Carlson. “Better patient outcomes and the ability of providers to always have a patient record in front of them; these factors have driven purchases even more.”
More information can be obtained in Kalorama Information’s report on the subject, Handhelds in Healthcare: Markets for Smartphones, Tablet PCs, PDAs, Monitors & Scanners. The report includes key company profiles and market share, revenue forecasts, and breakouts by device category.