Passive sensors to transform healthcare outside of hospitals

Over the next decade, passive sensors will play a growing and more significant role in healthcare, according to a new report from the California Healthcare Foundation.

Passive sensors, which do not require active engagement for their use or data transmission, will change patient care as they become ubiquitous in the daily lives of patients, supporting healthy lifestyles, self-care, and more personalized medicine, argues the report.

The report describes the early phase of development and adoption of passive sensors for patient care outside of the hospital environment.

"While medical devices incorporating sensors have been a vital part of hospital-based care for many years, they have not been widely used by patients and providers to support care outside of the hospital," states the report.

These sensors have traditionally been under-utilized. However, the report concludes that as sensors become cheaper, smaller, and more accessible, passive sensors in particular have tremendous potential to provide constant connectivity, track and record a person's vital signs, and operate in ways that are undetectable by a user.

Although there are many opportunities for sensor technologies, the report finds there are many significant challenges as well to sensor adoption, including patient engagement, provider embrace, payment issues, privacy concerns, legal and regulatory hurdles, and information integration.  

Recent research from analyst firm Berg Insight found that about 2.8 million patients worldwide used home-based remote monitoring services from dedicated devices in 2012, a trend that will continue grow over the next few years. The firm forecasts that the number of home monitoring systems with integrated communication capabilities would grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.9 percent between 2011 and 2017 to reach 9.4 million connections worldwide.

In addition, the number of devices with integrated cellular connectivity increased from 0.73 million in 2011 to about 1.03 million in 2012.

To learn more:
- read the CHF report