The healthcare industry is facing important challenges – from aging populations to cost control while there is a growing demand of personalized and on-demand care.
These challenges trigger the beginning of new technologies adoption that is drastically modifying the interaction between patient and medical device. Thanks to the technological progress in miniaturization, computational power, and communication technologies, an increasing number of medical devices are able to collect, analyze, store and transmit data. The trend is growing so quickly that it deserves a name itself: Internet of Medical Things (IoMT).
IoMT is rapidly transforming the way health organization works, and how the patient is cared, opening the possibility to personalized services such as remote caring. New automation strategies and artificial intelligence algorithms have found room in the healthcare context introducing new Decision Support Systems (DSS) helping medical doctors to take better and quicker decisions with the aid of a digital assistant, or helping the caring system to predict the patient behavior and needs, all through a software-based service solution. A software-based solution paradigm help to keep the cost lower, helping the medtech companies to provide evidence of better health outcomes at a reasonable price.
The hospitals’ IT department works to foster the interoperability between the medical devices and the Electronic Health and Medical Records (EHR / EMR) and reinforcing the back-up systems through the use of hospital’s Storage Area Network (SAN). The generic modern hospital room has the average of 5 connected devices, and the number is intended to grow.
But here that comes the pitfall. If from one side IoMT allows medical devices to be connected to the cloud, benefitting both patient and healthcare service, by running up-to-date application, gathering data to monitor the health status, and working in a more intelligent way to provide a more personalized therapy, there is a considerable risk in terms of cybersecurity. A connected device can become a backdoor to the external world, and could be used by a malicious attacker to penetrate the hospital network and produce a data-leakage or violation of personal information.
The cybersecurity risk can be addressed, by for instance creating security procedures, minimizing the Internet communications by reinforcing the internal IT infrastructure, as well as ensuring good engineering practices defined “secure by design” and keeping up-to-date all the devices.
This would surely result in an effort for the hospital IT infrastructure, but the combined benefit of the improved IT system and the usage of connected devices will overcome the costs in the short term, providing beneficial tools for improving the patient health.