The healthcare sector sees the potential for big benefits in the Internet of Things (IoT), but security remains a major concern.
Objects that connect to the internet and share data have become widespread among organizations generally, according to a new study published by Aruba, part of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Among sectors surveyed in the study, healthcare’s implementation of IoT lagged only the enterprise and industrial sectors, with 60% of healthcare organizations using the technology worldwide.
The potential economic impact of IoT in healthcare, which has been estimated at up to $1.7 trillion per year, has almost certainly been one of the drivers: 73% of organizations in the study reported cost savings. Organizations implementing the technology reportedly expect increased productivity and cost savings, in addition to innovative business models and improved collaboration among doctors and patients.
Aruba cited patient monitoring as the technology’s primary use in the sector, though connected devices also include power generators and imaging equipment. The increasing emphasis on rewarding value over volume has boosted healthcare organizations’ interest in improving care coordination. This has made remote patient monitoring another area in which the industry has seen predictions for steady near-term growth.
All of this this upside comes with a hefty caveat, however. The report noted the security implications of connecting huge numbers of devices to existing business networks, and, indeed, nearly 9 in 10 healthcare organizations surveyed reported that they had already suffered an IoT-related security breach.
Given the high stakes involved in keeping healthcare data secure, from public relations disasters to fines for HIPAA violations, that’s no minor concern. Recent news that a Johnson & Johnson insulin pump is vulnerable to hacking, alongside high-profile instances of stolen medical documents suggest healthcare organizations will need to balance information security risks with the technology’s potential upsides.