IoT and Healthcare: Safely and Effectively Merging Devices in the Healthcare Data Universe

In 2017, Aruba Networks, an information technology and security company released a report looking at the impact Internet of Things (IoT) technology would have on the healthcare industry.

According to Aruba Networks, the healthcare industry ranks third when it comes to IoT implementation. The company’s report found that 60 percent of healthcare organizations had already introduced IoT and predicted that by 2019, that statistic would reach 87 percent.

And those organizations who have adopted IoT are seeing results across their facilities. Eighty percent of providers currently using IoT have increased innovation, 76 percent have improved visibility across the organization, and 73 percent have increased cost savings.

IoT technology can be applied to the healthcare industry in a number of ways that will ultimately improve patient care. But despite the benefits listed above, IoT comes with a unique set of challenges that are different from when IoT is implemented in the consumer realm.

As with most new technologies being implemented in the healthcare field, many are concerned about data security and IoT device management. According to the recent report, 89 percent of the healthcare organizations surveyed had suffered an IoT-related security breach and 49 percent had issues with malware.

Nowhere are security concerns more valid than in the healthcare industry where patients expect their personal health data to be protected. On any one visit to a medical facility, a patient will likely interact with several different devices. These devices range from machines used to monitor their vitals, automated machines that dole out medicine and diagnostic equipment like MRI machines.

These devices are at their best when working in harmony with each other to provide clinicians with valuable patient insight. But the number of connected devices and the sheer amount of data collected by healthcare providers can be a challenge to manage. It’s vitally important to keep this data secure, especially when it is being exchanged across various devices and that’s why implementing IoT safely and effectively in your organization is so necessary.

One of the main challenges of managing data from all of these devices is that the devices themselves are oftentimes made by several different vendors. Merging the devices so that data can be accessed more easily then starts with having a universal tool or platform to manage them.  

On the security front, one of the main challenges is ensuring user data is protected when a patient’s medical device is away from a medical facility and not connected to a secure network. This includes devices like pacemakers that are used to regulate heart function. By their very nature these devices will most often operate outside of a healthcare provider’s secure network and could be prone to security breaches.

Overall, in order to merge devices in your healthcare organization safely and effective, you need a platform responsible for monitoring device operations and device configuration across the board. An optimal platform is one that is able to secure various devices and ensure the data they transmit is delivered securely, which means these platforms must have a high level of encryption. And additionally, the platform should ensure that all connected devices are regularly updated and patched.

Treehouse Technology Group is working with healthcare organizations to help them merge their devices take advantage of the latest IoT technology innovations.  We’ve worked with several groups to streamline their processes and bring their organizations into the 21st century. If you’re interested in transforming your operation and want to work with a company with a successful track record, contact TTG for a free consultation. We specialize in helping companies develop robust solutions best suited for their specific business needs.

For most inpatient medical facilities, outside of rural America, IoT is usually managed with an internal EMR like Epic or Cerner, but for outpatient settings, IoT has no standardized secure “platform” approach for secure data transfer and communications. TTG is aware of these limitations and has developed a standardized global platform product for IoT integration to address the outpatient universe of data.

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