While the Internet of Medical Things offers a wealth of opportunity, it lacks any true data security.

Technology touches every area of our lives. We already depend on the internet for information, communication and entertainment and, most recently, we are depending on it for our health.

Already our TVs, cars, security systems and home appliances are part of the Internet of Things. Now doctors and health care providers are finding a wealth of ways in which this connectivity, being hailed the Internet of Medical Things, can greatly improve patient care.

The global healthcare wearable devices market alone earned revenues of $5.1 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach $18.9 billion in 2020.

A Bright Future for the Internet of Medical Things

Interest in the Internet of Medical Things has surged with players like Google and Apple now joining the market.

Among the many factors driving this demand are the unmet needs of the aging baby boomer generation, which is pushing health care organizations to explore and expand on remote patient monitoring and telemedicine.

The market’s desire to meet these demands will help propel the market for the Internet of Medical Things, which is projected to be worth $410 billion in 2022, according to Grand View Research.

A recent analysis from Frost & Sullivan, focused solely on wearable healthcare technologies, projects a coming surge in the market. This report, Wearable Technologies in Clinical and Consumer Health, states that the global healthcare wearable devices market alone earned revenues of $5.1 billion in 2015 and estimates this to reach $18.9 billion in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30%. Consumer health wearables are expected to see a CAGR of 28%, while medical and clinical-grade wearables are expected to experience a CAGR of 33%.

Taking note of the Internet of Medical Things trend, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, recently stated that the healthcare market’s potential could make the company’s smartphone market look small in comparison. Currently, the smartphone market accounts for roughly 65% of Apple’s $234 billion in annual revenue.

Currently, Apple is said to be developing a stand-alone device, for release in 2017, that will monitor heart rate, pulse and blood and sugar changes.

“We’ve gotten into the health arena and we started looking at wellness, that took us to pulling a string to thinking about research, pulling that string a little further took us to some patient-care stuff, and that pulled a string that’s taking us into some other stuff,” Cook said in an interview with Fast Company. “When you look at most of the solutions, whether it’s devices, or things coming up out of Big Pharma, first and foremost, they are done to get the reimbursement [from an insurance provider]. Not thinking about what helps the patient. So if you don’t care about reimbursement, which we have the privilege of doing, that may even make the smartphone market look small.”

Not to be left behind, Google’s parent, Alphabet, has partnered with GlaxoSmithKlein in the development of a smart contact lens created to help people with diabetes. The prototype contains a wireless chip and a tiny glucose sensor that monitors the amount of glucose in the user’s tears.

A small hole in the lens will allow teardrops to flow into the sensor, which will then transmit data concerning the patient’s blood-sugar levels, via a minuscule wireless antenna, to a separate device. The idea is that the patient’s doctor will then be able to use this valuable information to decide the best course of treatment.

With excitement and energy propelling the level of innovation to new heights, one issue remains and that is how to securely transmit this valuable and highly confidential patient information to health care providers.

“The valuable data rendered from connected medical devices, such as wearables that monitor blood pressure and other vitals, is relatively useless if never presented to a patient’s care team in an easy to read, actionable manner,” said Virtual Health CEO Adam Sabloff in an interview with TechNewsWorld. “Patients will truly benefit from the Internet of Medical Things only when end-to-end solutions are fully leveraged to help clinicians access and act on valuable data provided by wearables and other remote monitoring tools,” Sabloff added.

When it comes to cyber security and the Internet of Medical Things, the landscape can really be compared to the Wild West – an exciting frontier with limitless potential yet lacking any real rules or safety.

Precaution is Better than Cure

“Precaution is better than cure.” Though stated by Sir Edward Coke over 400 years ago, the sentiment of this phrase is just as relevant today as it was nearly half a millennium ago.

When it comes to cyber security and the Internet of Medical Things, the landscape can really be compared to the Wild West – an exciting frontier with limitless potential yet lacking any real rules or safety. With today’s hackers only becoming more sophisticated and health care organizations taking few if any safety precautions, it is only a matter of time before one of these organizations finds itself on the losing end of a pistol duel.

The National Security Agency (NSA) is fully aware of the coming storm and recently informed participants of a defense technology summit in Washington DC that it was investigating the hacking of connected medical devices. And, if the NSA is looking at the problems hacked medical devices will produce, it is certain that hackers are looking at the same problems and seeing them as opportunities.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also has an eye on the market. Last year, it highlighted the need for organizations to be on top of, and ideally ahead of, any security and privacy issues that are sure to arise as the number of Internet of Medical Things connected devices grows.

In an interview with TechNewsWorld Stu Bradley, vice president of cyber security at SAS, stated, “The proliferation of Internet of Medical Things technology, and the healthcare industry’s enthusiasm to adopt it, has put the veritable cart before the horse in terms of security.”

Bradley went on to say that manufactures will have to embed more robust security into Internet of Medical Things devices, thus focusing on prevention of a cyber attack rather than seeking a cure after the damage is done.

“This poses a real challenge for manufacturers whose core competency has historically been device, not software, development,” he added.

To learn more about how Mice 360 protects organizations from cyber attack, contact us today.