A November market research report pegs the global wearable medical devices market to reach $16.8 billion by 2022. That is up from $3.5 billion in 2014.
Not surprisingly, the Diagnostics & Monitoring segment of the overall wearables market commanded the largest market revenue accounting for more than 70% of the market share in 2014, according to the report.
Some examples of monitoring wearables are the Seeq device from Medtronic that monitors the heart for 30 days. Another the Zio-XT patch from iRhythm Technologies continuously collects data for two weeks to help doctors determine whether patient has atrial fibrillation. The Zio-XT patch is meant to be an alternative to the cumbersome Holter monitor that patients typically wear for a couple of days.
While the diagnostics and monitoring segment had the largest revenue, the wearable therapeutics market is expected to be the fastest-growing segment expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 23% within the period of the report.
One example of a wearables therapeutics is Chrono Therapeutics, that delivers nicotine to a person who is trying to quit smoking.
Medical wearables also include pain management devices, for instance the transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) products made by Omron Healthcare. Wearable pads can be placed on the body - knee, hips, lower back and other places - and that area can be stimulated with electrical pulsation using a TENS that blocks the pain messages from the pain.
Other wearables include Basis Science's Peak smartwatch that is both a heart rate monitor and skin temperature tracker as well as a sleep and activity tracker.
Other companies are also incorporating medical wearables as part of their overall solution - for instance Proteus Digital Health has created an ingestible sensor embedded in a drug that communicates with a wearable patch to collect and transmit information about when the drug was taken among other data.
However, even as the wearables market is growing - be it through the use of Fitbit or smartwatches - there is a growing sense that on the medical side, the more invisible the product is in terms of how seamlessly it fits into the lifestyle of a patient, the higher the chance of patients desiring to wear it continuously.
Arundhati Parmar is senior editor at MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @aparmarbb
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