written by Chad F. Walter
Today marks the start of the 9th Annual National Health IT Week (www.healthitweek.org), and it seems perfect timing to consider the various technologies that are driving rapid change within the world of healthcare IT.
At Network Box USA, we like to focus on IT security, but, right now, I’m fascinated by the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is the hottest trend in technology today. It’s impacting every aspect of what we do; what our cars are connected to, or what our houses are controlled by, and how healthcare is integrated directly through the Internet. IoT is providing us with technologies that weren’t even possible just a few short years ago.
Within healthcare, recent advancements in sensory technology, data correlation and interconnectivity through the Internet allow healthcare providers to monitor at-home patients 24/7 without being invasive. In fact, thanks to IoT, elderly patients today retain their independence while still receiving critical medical care.
These technologies also have the potential to improve economic and time management efficiency. In hospitals, IoT is vastly reducing device downtime. Technicians are now able to monitor an increasing number of connected medical devices remotely for performance anomalies as well as supply levels. They can then maintain critical health equipment proactively. In life threatening ER situations, it’s beyond vital to have a working MRI or CT Scanner when you need it. In addition to saving lives, proactive maintenance can save a hospital thousands of dollars in emergency repair costs.
Now, the excitement and promise of IoT in healthcare comes with a few serious considerations.
Every new IoT technology has the propensity to complicate the “path to data” issue. Each device connected to the Internet paves a possible path to confidential healthcare data and systems. These paths need to be identified, understood, mapped, and secured. Without proper security, these devices could be pirated, meaning they can be hacked and controlled by an unauthorized component.
I’m not trying to create undue paranoia, but it’s important to understand the risks so you can better secure the benefits. Based on human behavior, I fear that too many organizations, motivated by perceived benefits, will implement first, fix later.
In closing, I say bring on the advancements in IoT, just make sure you have a solid plan in place to adequately protect your patients, data, and networks.