Over the next two decades the IT industry could find itself selling ehealth technology to the same people it sold PCs to during the last two decades.
Cambridge UK 30th January 2003 The market for ehealth technology and services, which provide long term care for the elderly, could be worth up to £1.5 billion per year according to a report published by Wireless Healthcare.
IT vendors faced with slowing, or flat, corporate and consumer markets could derive valuable revenue growth by building ehealth solutions which provide care for the elderly in their own homes as opposed to hospital. As well, demographic trends indicate that the elderly represent a customer base that will still be expanding in 2050.
Over the next two decades the number of people aged 65 and over is set to rise by 40%. This could see the annual budget for long-term care grow from £11 billion to £15.4 billion. The government recently allocated £100 million to be spent on schemes to ease bed blocking in NHS trust hospitals. Bed blocking or 'delayed discharge' is caused by a growing number of elderly people who need long term care after operations.
But in its report "Caring for the Aged - Long Term Problem or Long Term Opportunity?" Wireless Healthcare warns investors and IT companies that some parts of the ehealth market could soften. The pensions crisis, and any future fall in house prices, could reduce the disposable income of tomorrow's senior citizens. At the moment the elderly themselves pay £4 out of every £11 spent on long term care. This figure could fall, hitting suppliers who are targeting the private market for home health monitoring products. As well the government may introduce fines for local authorities whose elderly citizens are causing bed blocking. This may reduce cooperation between local authorities and NHS trusts that are already jointly working on ehealth projects.
However manufacturers could make their ehealth products more competitive if they agreed on a common standard and a common development platform and, in so doing, reduced manufacturing and development costs. The report also warns that vendors will be facing government procurement departments who are, following the failure of a number of high profile IT projects, increasingly risk adverse. Some of the existing ehealth services examined were cumbersome and labour intensive and the report suggested the use of 'always on' mobile networks such as GPRS and 3G as one way ehealth could be made simpler and more cost effective
About Wireless Healthcare
Specialising in the ehealth and healthcare sectors, Wireless Healthcare produce research and analysis for investors, healthcare providers and IT vendors.
The report "Caring for the Aged - Long Term Problem or Long Term Opportunity" is available in printed format for £19 + vat or electronically for £16 + vat
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