lunes, 11 de noviembre de 2013

eHealth & Telecare Services: An actual overview

A brief insight into current market trends in telecare services

Telecare Services
Telecare services mainly means the provision of social care services from distant locations supported by telecommunications. Through the use of alarms, sensors and other equipment, telecare systems help people to extend independently living, mainly for elder people. Telecare services can be classified in different generations:
  • First-generation: simple telephone unit and a necklace with a button that can be triggered by the user when help is required. Rely on already existing technologies, and represent the most mature market segment in the field of ICTs and ageing in Europe.
  • Second-generation: adds a 'passive' or automatic alarm dimension enabled by the implementation of sensors such as smoke, fire and flood detectors, among others at home. This generation is considered a growth market, involving provision of additional sensors to enhance basic social alarm services (only in the UK can the situation be considered to be approaching anything close to a mainstreamed one). 
  • Third-generation: more advanced services, which collects everyday activity data automatically through various sensors in an integrated way to monitor wellbeing and assesses the need for help and support. Considered an embryonic market, related to the 'Ambient assisted Living' concept, whose main activity to date is in the form of pilots/trials.

Components of Telecare Systems
[Source: P. Baum, F. Abadie. Market Developments – Remote Patient Monitoring and Treatment, Telecare, Fitness/Wellness and mHealth. 2013. JRC Scientific and Policy Reports, European Commission]

Some market figures
In a report from the market research company Frost & Sullivan, the value of the telecare market was estimated to be worth €82.45 million in 2009. The estimated value is expected to nearly double in value until 2015 to reach €160.75 million.

The United Kingdom is the leading country for Telecare revenues with a value of €19.4 million in 2009 and a forecasted value of €49.1 million by 2015, and its leading position is explained by the strong commitment of NHS (National Health Service) to deploy telecare which has been translated by favorable funding and policy conditions so far. Given that, understanding demand by private end-users is particularly decisive in countries where neither health nor social insurance reimburses the costs for the telecare service and device.

Barriers and Drivers
The Telecare market is characterized by a diversity of device suppliers and service providers, but competition remains low as there is no mainstreaming happening yet. Ageing, need for continuous care, deployment of AAL programs and government action promoting awareness of telecare, as well as more conducive regulatory and policy frameworks, are considered as main drivers for the segment, while lack of interoperability, lack of public funding and unclear perception of benefits hinder its development.

Next diagram show a briefing of drivers and barriers:

To sum up, telecare is a growing market which will have a significant impact in eHealth sector and social services for the coming decades, involving partners from both ICT and health sector. However, a stronger public awareness is needed, along with governmental support and suitable policies, in order to create and integrated and well-defined environment for the provision and reimbursement of social care services through the use of ICTs.

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