Back in February, we listed our top 10 trends and events for medtech companies to watch in 2014 and followed this with an update on how these trends were progressing in April, so it's about time for another update! This time, we're focusing on 4 of our Year-in-Preview topics, with a look in to what's buzzing in the world of telehealth, Big Data, personalized medicine and medical apps.

Support for Medicare coverage of Telehealth
Topic: Telehealth Improves Disease Management

Legislation supporting the expansion of telehealth coverage has been proposed in the US, namely the push for Medicare coverage to include telehealth services for chronic health conditions, as well as speech therapy and physical therapy. The proposed bill would add coverage incrementally over a period of 4 years, thereby promoting healthcare access for rural areas and for those for whom travel to physician visits is restricted.

Apple enters the world of mHealth with HealthKit software and app, Health
Topic: Mobile Apps Empower Patients

Apple has been mentioned a few times in the medtech world in the past few months, with its launch of personal health tracking app Health, as well as its new software, HealthKit.  Now, the company has announced its partnership with IBM to create a novel mobile platform. While this move may primarily focus on developing business-related applications, there have been suggestions that the pair is interested in extending their reach in to the healthcare world. The combination of IBM's IT expertise and business reputation with Apple's healthcare apps and electronic devices set the stage for a new approach to healthcare for both patients and health care organizations.

In other M&A news, Cerner recently announced its acquisition of Siemens healthcare IT business for $1.3 billion, expanding the company's global network and paving the way for increased innovation within the healthcare IT space.

Big Data and wearable devices are supporting personalized medicine initiatives
Topic: Telehealth Improves Disease Management
Topic: Big Data Informs Health Analytics
Topic: Personalized Medicine Changes Treatment Algorithms

Wearable devices are able to gather a new level of healthcare information that, when combined with extant public health records, will open a window in to more accurate opportunities for personalized medicine.  By tracking vital signs such as weight and heart-rate, physicians are able to identify adverse health risks earlier, thereby enabling earlier intervention and thus a better outcome for the patient. Additionally, this will pave the way for medical treatment on a more custom-based level. By interpreting statistics on regional patient populations, facilities will be better able to focus on certain health conditions that patients in the region would be more likely to display. Complemented by the FDA proposal that certain mHealth medical devices be exempt from stringent regulatory requirements, thereby fast-tracking their pathway to approval, this goal could be attained even sooner than expected.

Unprepared to handle Big Data An update on how Big Data is being perceived
Topic: Big Data Informs Health Analytics

And finally, while the potential for Big Data in healthcare analytics remains high, a recent study shows that many agencies are unprepared to interpret and apply such data. This infographic captures the current perspectives on Big Data currently, as well as its potential applications in the industry.

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