Personal Telehealth Overview

Busy lifestyles that leave little time or motivation for fitness and weight management; a rise in chronic diseases; an aging population that requires escalating levels of supervision and medical intervention - these are the lifestyle, health and demographic trends that are directly contributing to skyrocketing health care costs.

  • More than 1 billion people in the world are overweight, and at least 300 million of those are clinically obese1. Without action, more than 1.5 billion people are expected to be overweight by 20152.
  • Over 600 million people worldwide have chronic diseases, and the spending on chronic diseases is expected to increase3. For example, in the US alone, spending is expected to increase from $500 billion a year to $685 billion by 20203.
  • Globally, the number of persons 60 and older was 600 million in 2000. It is expected to double to 1.2 billion by 20254.

The personal telehealth opportunity

In a system well-designed for improving health, people with heart disease or diabetes can transmit their vital signs - blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, glucose levels, temperature, weight, respiration - seamlessly from home to their health professional, and get real-time feedback on their condition. A busy professional is able to receive a daily electronic check-up on the health status his aging parent who lives alone, suffers from a series of chronic conditions and is on multiple medications. A traveling businessperson can have a real-time discussion about the workout she just completed with a trainer who is hundreds of miles away.

Today, technologies like these that can enable more proactive personal health exist and are being applied - but not nearly as commonly as needed to radically improve health and quality of life and eliminate unnecessary costs from the healthcare system. To become a central component of the way we manage health, personal health and medical devices must be fully interoperable with each other and with other information sources. Because broad interoperability has yet to be achieved, it is an emerging priority for health systems and for the medical and information technology industries. Creating a rich eco-system of interoperable health and fitness devices will:

  • Empower individuals and patients to better manage their health by providing them with information regarding their fitness and health through personal medical devices and services.
  • Allow loved ones and professional care givers to more accurately monitor and coach chronic disease patients and elderly individuals living independently.
  • Enable medical and fitness device manufacturers to rapidly develop interoperable devices and services using industry developed connectivity standards.
  • Enable health care providers to offer better quality care through personalized health solutions assembled from a rich marketplace of interoperable health care devices and services.

1.World Health Organization. (2003). Obesity and Overweight: Dr. P. Puska, Dr. C. Nishida, Mr D. Porter.

2.World Health Organization. (2005) Ten Facts About Chronic Disease. Retrieved May 19, 2006, from

3.(2001). Scaling Mount Proteome to Bring Down Chronic Disease. The Pfizer Journal®, Global Edition Volume 1I, Number 2, 2001, 4-9.

4.World Health Organization. (2006, February 13). The world is fast ageing - have we noticed? Retrieved May 19, 2006, from