Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices have made remote monitoring in the healthcare sector possible, unleashing the potential to keep patients safe and healthy, and empowering physicians to deliver superlative care. It has also increased patient engagement and satisfaction as interactions with doctors have become easier and more efficient. Furthermore, remote monitoring of patient’s health helps in reducing the length of hospital stay and prevents re-admissions. IoT also has a major impact on reducing healthcare costs significantly and improving treatment outcomes.
IoT is undoubtedly transforming the healthcare industry by redefining the space of devices and people interaction in delivering healthcare solutions. IoT has applications in healthcare that benefit patients, families, physicians, hospitals and insurance companies.
The healthcare industry is rapidly adopting new-age technologies such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to improve access and outcomes, especially in rural areas. In this scenario, it is the responsibility of businesses to ensure that the technology acts with responsibility and transparency. In recent years, India has seen increased IoT adoption in education, governance and financial services. IoT Technology has made it possible for doctors to see and interact with patients who are located far, with smart login devices. The patients’ medical data and case history are automatically transmitted to the doctor for analysis.
Given the massive length and breadth of the country, India has an acute shortage of doctors which negatively impacts both the quality and reach of healthcare services. A digital platform powered by advanced digital technologies will help in regular patient care and accurate patient monitoring and reporting. According to estimates from the IoT India Congress 2018, the Indian IoT market is set to show an increase in growth from $1.3 billion to $9 billion by 2020 across all domains which include healthcare, telecom, vehicles and smart homes. Nasscom reports point to IoT as an emerging field growing rapidly to become a $300 billion global industry by 2020. India is all set to capture a minimum of 20% of that pie as market share in the next five years.
Healthcare Industry a Favourite Target
The lack of basic security awareness among the practicing healthcare staff coupled with the non-existence of state-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions has led to the healthcare industry become a favorite target for hackers. The cybersecurity firm SecurityScorecard has reported that the healthcare industry is the fifth most vulnerable to ransomware attacks among all industries. Since August 2015, more than 77 percent of the entire healthcare industry has faced malware attacks.
One of the famous attacks has been the notorious WannaCry ransomware attack which plagued nations in 2016 and affected over 300,000 machines across 150,000 countries. These nations included the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). In May 2017, WannaCry spread rapidly across a number of computer networks encrypting files and locking the systems. After Windows computers were infected, the virus encrypted files over the PC’s hard drive, which led to no-access by the users. In order to decrypt the files, cybercriminals subsequently demanded a ransom payment in bitcoins.
Experts believe that despite suffering from ransomware attacks, businesses and institutions remain unprepared for the next round of cyber-attacks. Major reasons include old or unpatched operating systems and flat networks which connect patients, guests, doctors to medical devices, all on the same network, a potential cybersecurity threat.
Though, it is not mandatory for medical device manufacturers to include cybersecurity capabilities as part of their offerings. But with the rapid use of IoT and the unlimited data being transacted, it is the need of the hour to secure the healthcare against cybersecurity attacks. Hospitals in partnership with technology enterprises must ensure that the much-needed security is up-to-date protecting the patients, doctors and the healthcare system.