Demand for telemedicine is growing worldwide. Review of reports

BCC Research predicts that the global market of telemedicine will grow until 2021 by the average value of 18.3% per year, reaching USD 55.1 billion. The ageing population, decrease in the number of physicians and the higher costs as well as expectations of patients are making the demand for telemedicine services and devices increase rapidly. This is confirmed by various national reports that we are reviewing today. An answer to contemporary challenges Healthcare is now facing a great deal of serious problems. In many countries, medical care systems have become ineffective. Moreover, more and more physicians as well as patients are becoming aware of the paramount importance of prevention. To help prevention, one can adopt a technology-based approach to health monitoring as well as data transfer and analysis, i.e. telemedicine. The information included in the 2017 Future Health Index Report shows that healthcare professionals see telemedicine as a useful tool to prevent health problems: it is the opinion of nearly 75% of all respondents, including 86% in Brazil, 91% in China, 92% in the United Arab Emirates and 94% in Saudi Arabia. In addition, the survey published in “Population Health Management” in 2016 indicated that individual preventive care ensured considerable savings and better health management already within three years from implementation. First of all, telemedicine allows for constant monitoring of the patient’s health and eliminates the need for frequent visits to medical facilities. It also gives patients and physicians the opportunity to consult on current problems with the use of online platforms, video chats or text messages. Telemedicine devices, often compact, mobile and easy to use, can be taken home by patients and can monitor various aspects of health 24 hours per day in comfortable conditions. This means more free beds in hospitals. Moreover, patients feel much safer and time as well as money are saved. The “e-Health for a Healthier Europe” report by Gartner mentions telemedicine as one of the most effective ways to reduce costs and rationalise expenditure on healthcare in the EU. There are also important benefits for physicians. The American telemedicine market survey conducted by Ernst & Young (E&Y) among physicians shows that telemedicine can improve the quality and comfort of work for medical professionals. 40% of respondents said that telemedicine reduced the number of patients’ visits by 11–30%. 88% of physicians asserted they would like to offer their patients the option to monitor vital signs at home, which could considerably reduce the number of necessary visits. It is particularly significant in view of the predicted shortage of physicians within the next 20 years. Teleconsulting, telemonitoring and what else? In the United States, where telemedicine is extremely developed, enormous popularity is enjoyed by 24-hour telemonitoring centres which make it possible for patients to contact selected specialists without the need to visit a medical facility. As a result, patients can consult with physicians at any time, while healthcare professionals can help more people in a shorter time. Telecardiology is one of the most frequent types of remote medicine practised in the U.S. and the European Union. The market offers devices that enable constant monitoring of the heart and can also diagnose disorders. Other developing specialities include teledermatology and breath rate monitoring during sleep. Technology companies are looking for new areas and Nestmedic has chosen telecardiotocography which allows for remote monitoring of the foetal health. It is an important direction in the development of telemedicine. Statistics say that 5.1 million children were born in the European Union in 2016. Women surveyed for the BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth report affirmed that when they observed foetal movements on their own, they felt calm and relaxed, while the test itself was an opportunity for communication with their unborn child. Technology companies provide devices as well as software that allow patients to collect and analyse various health data (e.g. weight, blood pressure, temperature etc.) in one single place. In the case of teleCTG Pregnabit, results of tests performed by patients are analysed by the Telemonitoring Medical Centre (TMC) operating 24/7. If everything is in order, the pregnant woman receives a text message on her phone. If any problems occur, specialists at TMC start special medical procedures. All test results are stored on the online platform available to patients, physicians and midwives. BCC Research predicts that the global market of telemedicine will grow by the average value of 18.3% per annum for several years. It seems that this trend of healthcare development based on ICT solutions will keep up in the nearest future. The above data and reports show that it is a very promising market for Nestmedic’s solution, i.e. the mobile CTG Pregnabit.