WELLINGBOROUGH, UK —Although they have generally been negative, the economic downturn and the growing cost burdens placed on the healthcare industry have had a somewhat positive effect. They have driven opportunities for the use of wireless technologies within the healthcare industry. By investing in telehealth opportunities, a positive pro-active approach offers potential cost and time-saving benefits when monitoring patients who are suffering from chronic diseases and/or aging independently.

A number of medical-device and mobile-handset manufacturers are beginning to invest in telehealth and associated services. Such services could provide the support that is needed to drive these cost-saving initiatives. Even Apple's iPhone is jumping on the healthcare bandwagon by introducing an application that enables users to monitor their blood pressure and glucose levels.

The choice of technologies available for integration within these devices is vast. With the support from many smart-phone manufacturers, Bluetooth may become dominant in this industry. However, alternative technologies being considered by the Continua Health Alliance are making headway in this market. Home-health-hub manufacturer AT&T has invested in ZigBee's healthcare device application profile. Also, ANT technologies are being used in a number of heart-rate monitors and mobile-phone applications. It may be that one technology is more suited for a particular application rather than a case of one size fits all.

The report published by IMS Research, "Wireless Opportunities in Remote Patient Monitoring Devices," discusses the potential for wireless technologies to be integrated within remote consumer healthcare devices. Examples include blood pressure, blood glucose, heart rate monitors, and pulse oximeters. For more information, visit www.imsresearch.com.