Remote Patient Monitoring or RPM refers to technologies that enable the monitoring of patients outside standard clinical environments. The market ranges from patches or wearable devices to sophisticated monitors and equipment that can be used in homes, assisted living facilities, and in ambulatory settings. RPM technologies have achieved significant recognition in assisting chronic disease management and supporting independent aging. From a healthcare providers' perspective, RPM enables mobility so that healthcare delivery can be ubiquitous and seamless.
Frost & Sullivan (connectedhealth.frost.com) finds that remote patient monitoring is emerging as an important investment opportunity for medical device manufacturers as well as telecommunications equipment and service providers across Asia-Pacific. The Malaysian market for RPM equipment is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.6% between 2012 and 2017 to reach an estimated market value of USD 33.9 billion at the end of the forecast period.
"Interestingly, while multinational players like Philips, Medtronic and Covidien command a sizeable market share globally, the Malaysian market is highly fragmented and there has been a slew of local players entering the market with rather innovative business models," says Natasha Gulati, Senior Industry Analyst for Healthcare, Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific.
Healthcare was slated as a priority sector in the 10th Malaysian Plan, initiated in 2011. While several steps have been taken to improve healthcare delivery over the past few years, public expectations continue to rise at a pace faster than government action. Malaysians across the country have access to far more knowledge than before and with rising income levels, they are demanding improved healthcare services that match international standards.
Such a revolution in the consumers' mindset, coupled with an ageing population suffering from a rising incidence of chronic diseases, presents ample prospects for remote patient monitoring. This is the reason why a Malaysian company, Embedded Wireless Labs., which had a successful RPM business in the U.S., decided to bring its technologies back home. The company has created the Zilant™ Wellness Platform, which captures medical and health data from patient monitoring devices remotely and then transfers that information to a Cloud server so that it can be accessed from anywhere at any time. Embedded Wireless Labs has partnered with Maxis to support the telecommunications group's Connected Village program. The Connected Village Program is a Maxis sponsored project which aims to bring quality, timely healthcare and diagnosis to underserved communities in rural Malaysia, amongst other benefits provided, such as banking and education, by provisioning "connectivity" in these areas. Certain pockets of rural Malaysia are so isolated that it takes patients up to 2 days to reach the nearest care facility. As part of the Connected Village Program patients suffering from chronic diseases are invited for health check-ups at an easily accessible, central location in their village where their health parameters are recorded and transmitted to respective care providers using the Maxis-Embedded Wireless ecosystem of connected devices including blood pressure monitors, glucometers, weighing scales and oximeters. The project is supported by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).
RPM projects like the Connected Village Program provide multiple benefits including extending healthcare services to remote areas; reducing the cost of healthcare delivery; reducing the chances of and costs associated with emergency care, and enabling efficient utilization of a scarce medical workforce. With the telecommunications infrastructure improving rapidly in the country and major market participants like Maxis exploring healthcare business models, remote patient monitoring is set for growth in Malaysia.
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