Despite a tough global economic climate, demand for multi-parameter patient monitors is predicted to increase during the next five years, according to a recent report published by IHS (NYSE: IHS), a leading global source of critical information and insight.
The total multi-parameter business was estimated as the largest of all segments in the patient monitor market, at $1.9 billion. The global low-acuity multi-parameter patient monitor market is forecast to show the fastest revenue growth in the next five years. Demand for these monitors is seen in both emerging and developed markets due to restricted healthcare budgets, either as an effect of the recession or due to a fundamental lack of available healthcare resource.
The low-acuity multi-parameter monitor market will show sustained high growth, while the high-acuity multi-parameter monitor market is not forecast to reach this level of growth until after 2017, when emerging markets have more available resource and developed regions are less restrained economically.
In developed markets, such as Western Europe, low-acuity monitors are becoming popular as an alternative to the often over-equipped, and therefore expensive, high-end monitors.
“Healthcare providers are looking for cost-effective monitoring solutions; therefore many will forego high-end capabilities that they do not need or will not use,” said Holly Ingram, clinical care analyst for IHS.
Increasing trust in Asian manufacturers is also leading to increased purchase of low-acuity monitors, as customers are being driven by price, and are able to attain a similar product to that offered by more established manufacturers at a fraction of the cost. Many of the larger, more established manufacturers are struggling to compete with the low price offered by some smaller manufacturers, despite the basic product range on offer.
There is also a focus in countries such as the United States and Japan to improve care in low-acuity wards, as it will allow patients to be moved from expensive high-acuity wards sooner, while still being monitored to ensure they receive any necessary care. This is leading to demand for low-acuity monitors, to ensure all patients are monitored at all times. In turn, this reduces the number of adverse events that occur during the patient’s hospital stay, ultimately reducing the burden on healthcare systems. The phenomenon is being driven by legislation changes in the United States that have stopped reimbursement for the treatment of events that should never have occurred.
Demand for low-acuity multi-parameter patient monitors is also high in emerging markets, such as Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia. Here, a basic healthcare standard is being implemented so low-acuity monitors are used as they provide a sufficient monitoring across all acuities, being better equipped than a single-parameter or vital signs monitor. To establish a basic standard of healthcare in these regions is a long-term process, so demand for low-acuity monitors will be sustained past 2017. However, in the next decade we forecast many emerging regions to follow similar development trends as mature markets.
Following establishment of basic care, improvement of high-acuity monitoring capabilities in urban regions will occur, followed by improvement of rural regions. When this occurs, demand for low acuity monitors will decline, as high acuity monitoring is the key priority. Therefore, healthcare system development is very closely related to trends in demand for both high and low acuity monitors.
Current investment in low-acuity healthcare is driving competition in this segment from many local manufacturers in emerging markets. This is common in China and Indonesia, but also increasingly in Brazil and parts of Africa, with high price pressure due to the number of local suppliers. Therefore, as in developed countries, many larger manufacturers are experiencing difficulties competing with the low prices these suppliers can offer in emerging markets, especially as they often also have to pass on extra cost, such as the cost of registration, to the purchaser. The difference between developed markets and emerging markets is that the former are choosing to purchase from low-cost manufacturers, whereas many in emerging countries have no choice, as they have a much more limited budget. With a wide range of product choice, it is easy to attain a monitor with sufficient capabilities at a very low price in many emerging markets.
With high demand in both emerging and developed markets forecast to be maintained in this segment, it is unsurprising that there are so many manufacturers attempting to gain market share. Globally, IHS forecasts a compound annual growth rate of almost 7 percent in the low-acuity, multi-parameter patient monitor market; this is almost double that predicted for mid/high-end multi-parameter monitors. As the key driver for growth is a focus to improve healthcare standards, both in emerging markets and in the low-acuity wards in developed markets, demand will be sustained for the foreseeable future.