Bosch to can Health Buddy, withdraw from telehealth in UK – temporarily?

On September 6th, Bosch announced a tie up with Remedy Health Media  [TTA 10 Sep] “to launch remote patient monitoring products designed for tablets and smartphones”, which suggested that it would not be long before they stopped selling their purpose-built telehealth hardware.

Now TTA has heard from a reliable source that they are telling their customer organisations that they are going to withdraw the Health Buddy as tablet/mobile based systems appear to be the way things are going for health monitoring. They will, of course, be honouring all existing telehealth contracts.

They will also to continue to offer telecare products.  However, surprisingly, it has been reported that they have said they will not be pursuing telehealth in the UK for the foreseeable future.  Given their commitment now to produce a software solution for telehealth, the size of the UK telehealth market and Bosch’s presence here, one wonders how long they can afford to stay away though?

It is interesting to reflect that only this time last year the Surrey telehealth tender, believed to be the first in the UK that required the use of software sitting on standard smartphone and tablet hardware, was being heavily criticised by some suppliers for excluding purpose-built telehealth hardware.  One wonders how long the other remaining suppliers of such hardware can continue?

One wonders too, how long it will be before one of the other requirements of that tender – the ability to download telehealth as an app, or access it via browser, the patient equivalent of BYOD that is already offered by some – will become the norm.

Update 30 September 2013: We are pleased to append the following statement from Bill Broderick, Acting Divisional Head of Bosch Healthcare in the UK, clarifying Bosch’s position re the UK market:

1. Bosch Healthcare is not exiting the UK market. Telecare is business as usual and we will continue to sell our entire line of telecare products in the foreseeable future. We have placed all new telehealth activities on hold for now as we spend the next few months re-evaluating the business strategy based on current market dynamics in the UK.

2. We are not exiting the Health Buddy device business. We will continue to offer Health Buddys to patients who need them. The Remedy partnership press release announced an expansion of our patient interface portfolio to more mobile and internet-based solutions, not a replacement of existing Health Buddy devices.

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  1. This continued corporate dithering of bringing/not bringing products to market is much worse than I have ever seen historically in any other market and its tarnishing the world of Telecare/health before the consumer understands the value.

    It smacks of the sudden realisation that although the pathways to Telecare/Telehealth are fundamentally correct that the market is not ready yet. (which is really not a surprise)

    This dithering will create hurdles to future market entries and again demonstrates that there is still a lot of market education to be done before acceptance and we need to ensure any product coming to market focuses on the user and its benefits not the technology.

  2. It is a concern when you see the the larger corporations pulling out as it creates confusion particularly for consumers. Having said that I am not surprised, Bespoke devices (such as Health Buddy) are expensive and quickly left behind in an environment where off the shelf consumer systems (tablet or phone) and cloud based software can provide individually focused solutions that can adapt with the needs of the user.

  3. alasdair morrison

    Sorry for my absence all, will explain at a later date. I had to comment here though :-)

    Take Telecare and Telehealth in the way other markets work. In our market, prevention is better than the cure and is a key element of all Health and Well-Being Board priorities across the UK – if it isn’t, then watch these public services go into alternative measures.

    Preventative soltuions are the future of the market and the audience is younger than those in the acute wards and more importantly…..’tech savvy’!! Whilst there is a mass market still required for the ‘standard’ Telehealth equipment (not so much Telecare), there does need to be a balance to both.

    Sorry for the example of the world’s most tech driven world that shapes the future markets and also deals in the ‘here and now’ of its world…Formula One!

    In F1, teams start the season with the best car they can, a few tweaks here and there needed but still something that can compare. As the season progresses, the larger and better financed teams begin to develop next year’s car whilst still massively competing in this year’s races. The smaller teams have to decide whether to abandon this year’s car development and focus on next year or to carry on with the equipment they have. Both markets work in Telecare and Telehealth and they are joined by the start-ups who are trying to hit the future years markets now and not consider the ‘here and now’

    • Alasdair Morrison

      Sorry, technology cut me off!! :-)

      I suppose my question is…’Should we be concerned that bigger funded companies are ignoring a market that exists in its infancy now but will develop massively over the next 5-10-20 years in order to concentrate on the mobile and virtual solutions that will pave the way to greater prevention in the future????????’

  4. Nish

    It makes sense to shift to the use of smart phones and tablets as they are easily adaptable and I am guessing that they are easier to use for the customer too. Probably more portable than current devices too. With technology for phones and tablets developing so quickly, they would provide a powerful and adatable tool for telehealth in my view and thier use would allow greater flexability e.g. you can use apps via a phone, download educational content and enable the cameras to allow teleconsultations too.

  5. The important consideration is that the service element is good. In many ways the technology around which a service is wrapped is secondary. Services should be adaptable, if not agnostic, in order to provide flexibility around upgrades or replacement of the technology. The service structure should not be hamstrung by the capability of current devices and software, but adaptable to future technical developments.

  6. Keith

    The development of future smart phone and tablet technolgoy should run alongside services provided today. We all get older and we will all be able to use any kind of apps or mobile devices if necessary. Buw what about the patients using the simple stationary telehealth or telecare devices at home. There are still plenty who do not know how to use the computer or even a smart phone.