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Are You Prepared for Wearables and Mobile Health Security?

Healthcare organizations must ensure they understand the intricacies of wearables and how they will potentially affect mobile health security.

- Between now and 2020, the healthcare world will continue to work through a critical digital revolution impacting patients, care, billing systems, life-saving technologies, and much more. Already, conversations around IoT and wearable solutions are gaining traction, and healthcare services continue to evolve and shift around a digital age and mobile health security issues.

Mobile health security key issue for healthcare wearables

A recent Cisco blog pointed out that the healthcare industry is already realizing key benefits from mobility. As patients begin to wear monitoring devices before, during, and after hospitalization, healthcare professionals can access critical data via mobile applications.

This can significantly boost the efficiency and agility of patient care. ABI Research has projected that by 2016, wearable wireless medical device sales will reach more than 100 million devices annually. Moreover, mobile health tools and mobile apps support hospitals in cutting costs, among other key benefits.

Accenture recently said that the healthcare IT leaders of today are doing more than just talking a good digital game. They are fundamentally changing the way technology is used for care delivery. Healthcare consumers, providers, and payers are embracing the transformational power of technology, and it’s paying off in unprecedented efficiency and effectiveness across the care ecosystem.

But it’s not always easy.

These new digital technologies introduce so many new kinds of opportunities; as well as some challenges.

Goldman Sachs recently called IoT as the next-generation IT mega-trend, with repercussions across the entire business spectrum. By connecting billions of everyday devices to the internet – ranging from fitness bracelets to industrial equipment –  the IoT merges the physical and online worlds, opening up a host of new opportunities and challenges for companies, healthcare environments, governments and consumers.

With all of this in mind, how ready is healthcare for the future of wearable technologies? How can you integrate all of these technologies while still overcoming challenges like user-enablement and mobile health security?

In working with the next-generation healthcare ecosystem, wearable and IoT technologies will have a major impact. And, to be successful in deploying these digital enablers, you need to take a few key points into consideration.

Enabling the Internet of Me

In a very recent Accenture study, healthcare was analyzed as a truly evolving field. Specifically, how new technologies are allowing for true healthcare personalization. According to Accenture, “The Internet of Me really allows patients to get information that’s highly customized to who they are, what they’ve done, and what their preferences are, so the experience is driven by real context, not just a patient handout that everyone gets.” In fact, as the report points out, 73 percent of health executives surveyed say they are seeing a positive ROI from their investment in personalization technologies. And, that 49 percent of patients globally wear, or would be willing to wear, technology that measures and tracks both fitness/lifestyle and vital signs. Wearable technologies, alongside IoT, allow for the power of personalization. That extends into very detailed and personalized healthcare services.

Understanding IoT Security

Wearable and IoT systems need to be understood architecturally. They still need to connect and access data, they still require data center resources, and many can be seen or controlled from the network layer. This means that a holistic, next-generation, security model must be able to take IoT/wearables into consideration. Network-layer security allows for micro-segmentation of services, VMs, connections, and even specific traffic patterns which revolve around mobile and IoT devices. Furthermore, you can create quality of service (QoS) thresholds for critical IoT services which are being delivered to patients, nurses, doctors, and other associates. IoT and wearable security does not have to be an overwhelming or complex subject. In fact, there are network-layer, as well as virtual security systems, which can help integrate and secure IoT and wearable traffic. Most of all, these systems can help with compliance, auditing, and efficiency.

Planning for the Future

IoT and Wearable technologies create a more detailed and personalized user experience. As Accenture’s report states:

Expect the ability to request a blanket or pain meds from your smartwatch, share healthcare information with all of your care providers in one click, receive a single streamlined and understandable bill for care, and get a real-time text alert that your blood pressure is too high. Health insurers will recommend personalized plan options, including some that offer savings for using a wearable device with intelligent analytics.

This is next-generation healthcare, where patient services are truly personalized and aligned with the provider. Moving forward, you’ll need to create powerful healthcare services delivery models that incorporate all of these new, personalized, technologies. Most of all, with all of this new data, security will absolutely be a major concern. Plan around your users, their experience, and then deploy appropriate (holistic) security models to support your requirements.

As you take all of this information into consideration, know that there will be a lot of dynamic growth around wearable and IoT technologies.

Cisco recently showed that globally, mobile devices and connections will grow to 11.6 billion by 2020 at a CAGR of 8 percent. By 2020, there will be 8.2 billion handheld or personal mobile-ready devices and 3.2 billion M2M connections (e.g., GPS systems in cars, asset tracking systems in shipping and manufacturing sectors, or medical applications making patient records and health status more readily available, et al.). 

You’ll need to plan around this to keep up with the pace of the healthcare digital evolution. By adopting, understanding, and designing around IoT and wearable technologies, you’ll be creating better patient service and giving your healthcare organizations a real-world competitive advantage. Ultimately, you’ll be enabling greater levels of mobile health security and efficiency, while helping save lives in the process. 

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