Many technology professionals are excited by the significant benefits and enhancements the Internet of Things (IoT) can bring to the healthcare sector. The future of IoT healthcare data and the enhancements that can be offered to the patient’s care are intriguing, unfortunately, there are many obstacles that must be overcome to make it a viable technology for the healthcare profession.
The biggest concerns are centered around the security of IoT devices and the privacy of patient data, especially when considering that valuable IoT data could potentially be misused. Any security breach of IoT devices could jeopardize Global Data Protection Regulation compliance, which are EU regulation rules introduced to protect and safeguard digital consumer data.
How Must Healthcare Providers Change to Embrace IoT and GDPR?
The enactment of GDPR compliance is forcing healthcare organizations to develop new cybersecurity services and solutions. This new approach and technology drive creates a number of factors that health providers must recognize:
GDPR WILL Create Additional Strain on US Healthcare Providers
The complexities of the GDPR data protection legislation have created significant challenges throughout the world. Within the United States, many organizations think that GDPR is a problem for only Europe and that US healthcare providers are exempt; however, it is highly probable that they may be embroiled in a lawsuit if GDPR rules are ignored.
The legal experts at McDermott Will & Emory have published articles regarding the security impact of GDPR for US healthcare providers. They advised that healthcare organizations removed from the European Union may be subject to GDPR policies with specific scenarios. Healthcare tourism is highlighted as one of the significant reasons.
The United States is a major destination for healthcare tourism partly due to its use of advanced procedures as well as new clinical trials. This view is supported by David Goldstein of Health Options Worldwide (HOW) who states that the US has already become a major destination for medical tourism. For example, more than 4000 patients traveled from the European Union to a single medical practice called the Farjo Medical Center in 2010. Today this healthcare organization would need to comply with GDPR legislation, as confidential data on European patients may be kept within the medical center.
Would the EU Penalize an American Healthcare Provider for Breaches of GDPR?
This is a very difficult question to answer as GDPR is still very new, and certainly, it is far too early to be certain if this could happen. However, it is important to stress that healthcare providers are still liable for adhering to GDPR legislation despite being outside of EU borders. The HIPAA healthcare legislation provides US healthcare professionals with assurances towards patient data security standards, meeting these compliance standards with HIPAA hosting is one of the best solutions for healthcare providers to be ready for GDPR.
IoT Devices Significantly Increase the Risk of Security Breaches
IT professionals and business technologists are confident that the Internet of Things is going to transform the world just as the original Internet of People has. Healthcare is one sector which is forecasted to be transformed by the IoT in a way that may eventually save lives. It is estimated that over 30% of all IoT devices will be dedicated to the healthcare division within the next seven years.
Many businesses are choosing to invest heavily in the IoT, including many healthcare organizations. It is estimated that the IoT industry for healthcare alone will balloon to $117 billion by 2020. Also, the IoT is expected to save over $100 million for healthcare practices in 2018 alone.
This expected boom in the technology has fantastic potential but also brings with it a number of dangers. The risk of data or security breaches on IoT devices is arguably the biggest concern affecting healthcare providers. As the technology is relatively new and unproven, the robust and stringent security standards of the everyday Internet are not always followed with IoT devices. Encryption and security protocols are often overlooked.
These security concerns can be evidenced by the technical website Network Word. It was discussed that most IoT devices which are connected to other units often have no security safeguards built in, or are configured and operated using default settings which are readily available online. This is often done to ensure IoT devices can communicate with ease and at regular intervals, but it presents a serious risk.
Another significant risk to the healthcare sector is that most IoT devices and infrastructure, at present, cannot be digitally authenticated, fake devices can be installed and data can be skimmed with relative ease.
HIPAA regulation has not caught up yet with the IoT. There are currently no regulatory protocols in place to force users to enact stricter controls over IoT devices. Combine this neglect with the bounty of valuable, identifiable data available from the IoT and it presents itself as a major issue.
Healthcare Providers’ Approach to IoT Risks Must Change to Meet GDPR Compliance.
Security of data and compliance with legislation and regulation are the cornerstones of the Healthcare provider’s responsibilities to protect patient confidentiality. The IoT has great potential to enhance the patient journey, save lives and deliver significant cost savings to providers which could eventually reduce the cost of healthcare. However, these milestone gains come with huge risks to organizations if security and protection of patient data are neglected. A healthcare provider risks serious legal and reputation damage if IoT devices are compromised and patient personal data is breached.