BOSTON (Reuters) – General Electric Co has taken a minority stake in a company that makes devices to monitor the health and activity of seniors or ill people at home, marking its entry into what the conglomerate estimated could become a $5 billion global market.

GE said on Wednesday it will take on distribution of the Living Independently Group’s home monitoring system, which are used in thousands of assisted-living facilities, communities for elderly people and private homes to monitor whether patients are caring for themselves or have suffered a fall.

“This will be one of the platforms from which we will eventually build a substantial home health business,” said Omar Ishrak, president and chief executive of GE Healthcare’s Clinical Systems unit. “Today, the brunt of patients go into the hospital, I think over time you will see the peak of patients shift to outside the hospital, to clinics and so on and eventually to the homes.”

GE estimates that the current U.S. market for home health monitoring devices is about $500 million, but could eventually grow to be $1.5 billion in the United States and $5 billion worldwide. Ishrak said Living Independently’s products today command a “very small” share of that $500 million, but did not provide specific revenues figures.

Today Living Independently’s products work by placing sensors in people’s homes to track their movements — data that could indicate whether a person is taking his medication or has fallen in the bathroom, said John Lakian, the company’s CEO.

Over time, GE aims to expand the product offering to include sensors on patients that could track vital signs and other important medical data, Ishrak said.

GE did not disclose the value of its investment in Living Independently. (Reporting by Scott Malone, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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