EU's wireless health IT market widens

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European healthcare is increasingly becoming digitized and there is growing need to develop and deploy sophisticated information systems. However, a new report from market research firm Frost & Sullivan suggests that wireless health IT has yet to be fully explored by the healthcare industry.

Nevertheless, the report found that the popularity of wireless and handheld devices in the healthcare arena is poised to increase against a backdrop of technology savvy patients and the evident benefits of mobility and flexibility.

The Frost & Sullivan research concluded that the total mobile/wireless technologies market in Europe during 2008 was $1.48 billion and is estimated to reach $6.8 million in 2015.

"Owing to the financial crunch, the healthcare industry in Europe is finding ways to curtail costs and increase the efficiency of healthcare delivery through wireless technology," said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst T. E. Jayapradha "The healthcare industry can no longer be complacent towards wireless technology due to the escalating costs and regulations; wireless technology is increasingly being employed in hospitals along with wires and semi-wired devices."

The current state of the healthcare wireless technology is one of multidimensional evolution, according to the authors. The various wireless applications and solutions being introduced to the market along with the evolving infrastructure technology are motivating healthcare administrators to consider designing a comprehensive wireless business and technology strategy.

"The drive to reduce cost and improve efficiency without compromising on patient safety and service quality is having a positive impact on the uptake of wireless technology in healthcare," Jayapradha remarked.

Frost & Sullivan said that constant addition of new medical applications into wireless networks is a major challenge that confronts the healthcare industry. Every department has to work closely with its counterparts in the IT department to ensure smooth workflows. The integration of central stations and EMRs, the expansion of wireless patient monitoring in sync with biomedical, administrative and labs, as well as other departments with IT requirements often poses a challenge.

"One of the major issues that hospitals face today is developing a strong cross-functional team among the various departments and IT to manage existing and emerging wireless technologies," Jayapradha cautioned. "There is an absence of well-structured healthcare organizations that can seamlessly integrate their departments."

The report found that solutions between various departments can be supported by adopting a strategy that allows for the flexibility of accepting new technologies, upgrades and expansions without challenging technology integrity. Through innovative product development and repositioning of current wireless technologies, the industry can raise the expectation of the end users and redefine their perspectives to create new market opportunities.

"As different types of wireless technologies are introduced into the healthcare market, the need for a comprehensive wireless business and technology strategy is evident," Jayapradha concluded "This strategy must be devised in a manner that supports all applications."