The market for Internet of Things technology in healthcare is predicted to reach $117 billion by 2020.
After all, this disruptive technology can prompt improved patient care, greater operational efficiency and enhanced evidence-based practices. To fully embrace the Internet of Things, healthcare providers must ensure security for all devices to protect patient data.
Security “is not really one of the core competencies of the industry,” said James Trainor, of the FBI’s Cyber Division, at a 2015 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference.
The spread of electronic health records is one concern, but so too is the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) culture. Trainor pointed out that patient data is more valuable as criminals can use it for prescription fraud, insurance fraud and identity theft.
Additionally, there are concerns about the potential for hacking IoT devices. For example, Dick Cheney’s heart monitor’s wireless feature was disabled during his term as vice president to prevent an assassination attempt through the device.
How Will Data Be Used?
With so much data generated by IoT devices, how that personal information can be used will need to be defined. For instance, while consumers can benefit from sharing data from their smart bathroom scales to lower their premiums, health insurance companies accessing health and medical information through the IoT and can utilize large data sets to develop coverage models.
From a healthcare administration perspective, the massive amounts of data needs secure storage. If analyzed effectively the information could lead to trend-setting innovation in improving patient care and health care efficiencies. Yet some health care professionals and IT departments are still grappling with using and securing mobile devices, and there will be a steep learning curve in managing and monitoring the influx of IoT data.
In its study of IoT and healthcare, Deloitte noted organizations “face uncertainty about how to prioritize potential uses of this new technology.” Predicting bottlenecks in the system, Deloitte recommended focusing on “validity, repeatability, and scalability.”
Much discussion around the IoT focuses on the flood of different types of devices being introduced, each with their own languages. For real-time exchange of actionable information, the medical industry will have to develop a shared ability to exchange and interpret data, also known as system interoperability.
Currently, there are no standards or regulations governing information collected via the IoT. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is working on a guide to secure connected medical devices. However, it’s largely up to the healthcare industry to standardize data formats and systems.
Another challenge is the pace of regulatory approvals in the health care industry. Health care providers often must await effective regulation before incorporating new technological advances, which can slow the pace of innovation, Deloitte noted.
There is no doubt the IoT, in conjunction with cloud computing and big data, is creating great opportunities in the healthcare sector. Moving forward, a main issue for health care enterprises will be providing connected architecture solutions that seamlessly communicate data from distributed sources and provide real-time information when needed.