Telehealth will take off as a mainstream technology for remote disease and home health monitoring from 2012, a new research report predicts.

Medical market research specialist InMedica says 2012 gives a two to three year timescale for current barriers to be overcome and for the benefits of telehealth to be demonstrated on a wide scale.

Its researchers say that ‘health hubs’ are the most widely used telehealth gateways in 2009, accounting for about 80% of the market.

They predict that these will continue to be the most popular device in the short to medium term, as they are a practical solution that can be supplied to patients with the infrastructure standardised and simplified on a large scale.

However, InMedica predicts that mobile phones will be used increasingly to access telehealth applications and that there will be more than 350,000 mobile phones used as telehealth gateways worldwide by 2014.

Neha Khandelwal, market research analyst at InMedica, added: “The use of mobile phones as telehealth gateways has had a surge of interest over the last couple of years; with patients and device companies recognising the benefits of data transmission on the move.

"We anticipate that cellular service providers will play an increasingly important role in the long-term future of the telehealth market.”

The InMedica report forecasts that health hubs will be used for managing diseases such as chronic heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but mobile phones will be used for conditions such as diabetes.

The company says a number of device companies have already launched diabetes management programmes that use mobile phones for transmitting blood-glucose readings to care professionals. It also says patients with diabetes are already used to regular self-monitoring with blood glucose meters.

The report adds: “Progressing to a telehealth service will not be a massive lifestyle change for them, so compliance should not be a huge hurdle. Moreover, receiving regular feedback on their condition would be a great benefit.”

InMedica’s report on the world market for telehealth forecasts that the number of gateways used in telehealth applications will increase to more than one million in 2014 and around 3.6m in 2018.