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Top Healthcare IoT Concerns Include Interoperability, Security

Healthcare IoT expansion requires organizations to consider how devices fit their current and future health IT infrastructures.

healthcare IoT

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Organizations are adding more healthcare IoT devices to their health IT infrastructure as the need for tracking, communication, and mobility continues to increase.

A recent report released by Verizon states that healthcare organizations are leveraging IoT-enabled track and trace capabilities so clinicians can quickly and easily locate equipment and devices when needed. The report also revealed that many organizations are also concerned about IoT security and interoperability.

Asset tracking is becoming more significant to healthcare as many critical devices rely on wireless connectivity to transmit data. The connections are also used to locate devices. Locating devices quickly can save organizations money on having to replace lost equipment and allows clinicians to get to their patients faster with the tools they need.

Over the past two years, organizations with IoT solutions have lowered operational costs, enhanced customer service, and improved device management, according to the report.

“The Internet of Things (‘IoT’) is at the core of digital transformation in 2017, with 73 percent of executives either researching or currently deploying IoT,” report authors said. “With 8.4 billion connected ‘things’ in use in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016, and network technology, cost reductions and regulatory pressures driving adoption, business leaders are not only paying attention, they're getting in the game.”

The report discovered that early adopters of IoT are currently ahead of seeing an ROI on their deployment investment. Early IoT adopters are already developing and testing ways to incorporate connected and remotely controlled devices into their health IT infrastructures. Organizations are thinking and planning ways to use IoT devices to create smart communities.

However, these new IoT developments are not without their potential drawbacks. According to the report, the IoT implementation concerns include standards compliance, security, interoperability, and cost.

“These uncertainties, along with apprehension around scalability and simplicity, are holding businesses back from full IoT deployment, with many still in proof-of-concept or pilot phase,” the report explained. “Early adopters seem largely focused on proving out simple use cases to track data and send status alerts, just starting to realize the full value IoT has to offer in driving growth and efficiencies across business.”

Organizations need to consider that IoT device security is different from traditional device security because it’s built around different hardware. Special consideration needs to be taken because IoT devices cannot run anti-virus scans like computers can. This is one of the reasons why IoT device security is a top concern for IT decision-makers.

Interoperability was also one of the top listed healthcare IoT concerns when it comes to IoT and medical devices security. Healthcare interoperability is increasingly a key industry issue, especially with the rise of connected medical devices.

Last week the FDA released a final guidance for smart and secure interactions among medical devices, emphasizing the importance of incorporating interoperability among devices in the design stage.

“FDA intends to promote the development and availability of safe and effective interoperable medical devices,” the FDA stated in its guidance. “FDA is issuing this guidance to assist industry and FDA staff in identifying specific considerations related to the ability of electronic medical devices to safely and effectively exchange information and use exchanged information.”

The FDA recommended that medical device manufacturers design their devices with interoperability as an objective.

The Verizon report predicted that IoT platforms will become more streamlined in application deployment with the addition of interoperability among medical IoT devices. The easier it is for organizations to deploy IoT applications, the more applications they can develop.

The report also predicted that larger IoT providers will continue to acquire smaller startups and add their technology to their existing solutions.

The increased visibility also changes the way organizations manage their assets. This increases device visibility, accountability, and security. It also eliminates the need for employees to spend time keeping records on devices.

As organizations continue to adopt IoT solutions, vendors need to become more flexible as accommodating different types of connected devices. Real-time visibility of collected and communicated data can give organizations insight into what works for them as well as how to better use the IoT for future projects.