Home automation networks can do more than control your lights, alarms, or entertainment systems — they can also provide on-site health care. In recent years, the Internet has provided a more efficient communication channel between patients and physicians. Additionally, digital technology has produced networked medical devices such as glucose readers, digital thermometers, and stethoscopes, as well as motion sensors and videoconferencing tools.

Dallas-based market research and consulting firm Parks Associates expects the digital home health services market to grow to $2.1 billion in 2010, up from $461 million in 2005. By that time, analysts predict the total addressable market for digital home health services (excluding e-visit services) will hit 64 million people.

Wellness monitoring services, Web messaging, and online consultation services are the primary drivers of this growth. While these services mainly target younger people who are more familiar with technology — not to mention more willing to adopt new services — geriatric care monitoring is expected to experience significant growth over the coming years as well, making broadband capabilities in elderly housing increasingly important. Though the elderly typically make up a smaller portion of broadband Internet users, this new health care trend means that electrical contractors may begin to see a growing demand for Cat. 5 cable installation in new elderly housing developments.