Aging Populations a Growing Focus of Smart Home Providers, IHS Says

With global populations aging, and with increased pressure for healthcare providers to reduce cost and improve outcomes, the Internet of things [IoT] will play a pivotal role.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The global market for digital healthcare products was worth about $15 billion in 2015, according to the latest information from the IHS Smart Home Intelligence Service. Clinical care represents the lion’s share of the revenue, led by unit shipments of consumer medical devices.

In 2015 only about 25% of the digital healthcare market had a level of connectivity conducive for smart home integration, but the percentage is projected to increase to about 30% by 2020, according to Blake Kozak, principal analyst, IHS Technology. 

Kozak cites demographic statistics that suggest by 2020 the global elder population is expected to exceed 600 million. By comparison, in 2008 there were approximately 410 million people around the world over the age of 65. With an increasing proportion of senior citizens, an emphasis is expected to be placed on home care over assisted living care, whenever possible.

With the global cost of healthcare exceeding $7 trillion annually and rising, providers are being forced to reduce costs, even as they are expected to improve outcomes. By implementing precise biometric-monitoring equipment in the home, the opportunity to predict care needs and monitor adherence will lower the overall cost of care and readmissions. This is where the opportunity for smart home begins, Kozak says.

“Since most multiple service operators [MSOs] and security providers are not Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPAA] or Food and Drug Administration [FDA] compliant, and are not permitted to provide medical recommendations, the long-term opportunity lies with passive monitoring of habits and patterns of older people living independently,” he says.

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Independent-living solutions allow elderly to remain connected to caregivers and family members at a much greater level than what a traditional personal emergency response system (PERS) can offer. Moreover, independent-living solutions play an integral role in outcome-based care, providing physicians and direct-care professionals with a comprehensive view of a patient’s daily activities, helping to confirm adherence to medication and other medical regimens, in addition to promoting independence for capable seniors.

“In order to increase the penetration of home care, motion sensors, plugs, lighting, thermostats and mobile PERS [mPERS] will all play a vital role in the future of aging in place,” Kozak says. “Clinical-grade equipment will no longer be the only devices collecting data. With fewer than 150,000 monitored accounts globally in 2015, the market for independent living is untapped for now, but it won’t be for long.”

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