IoT (or “Internet of Things”) devices are everywhere. Billions of physical devices connect to the internet now, from wearables (like step counters or exercise trackers) to smart light bulbs, doorbells, cars and even airplanes. During the dawn of inexpensive processors and WiFi, IoT devices began with RFID chips added to expensive items to track them in the event they were lost or stolen. That technology has advanced rapidly, allowing consumers to outfit nearly every aspect of their lives with “smart” devices.

The term “Internet of Things” applies to devices that wouldn’t traditionally be connect to the internet. PCs, smartphones and laptops don’t fall in this category, of course, but thermostats, light bulbs and ovens that you can control from your phone or small keychain trackers (to help you find your keys) do. The International Data Corporation (IDC), a global intelligence and advisory provider, puts worldwide IoT spending at $772 billion in 2018, and predicts it to hit $1 trillion in 2020.

IoT devices are everywhere, but what does this have to do with healthcare? These devices can both help patients, and cause security risks. What do healthcare clients need to know to help protect themselves from these risks?

  • IoT devices can do almost anything. From dispensing medication to tracking vitals to monitoring blood pressure, IoT devices can be a blessing for patients, doctors and other healthcare providers.
  • IoT devices will “outlive” the average laptop. The “useful life expectancy” of a laptop or a PC is an average of four years, whereas the life of an IoT device will be about 15 years or more. This means it will stay on the network longer, and as cybersecurity concerns evolve and become more complicated, security patches for devices may not evolve and change with them.
  • The permissions for all IoT devices on a network should be monitored on a regular basis. IoT devices like thermostats and coffee pots were built for use on a home network, not for more complicated use like a healthcare system. This means their security may be prone to leaks or hacking, and should be limited or monitored on a healthcare network.
  • A lot of devices were not designed to handle cybersecurity risks today. Healthcare organizations need to ensure that their IT team is prepared to protect their network from infected IoT devices. Additionally, cyber security training for all employees is crucial to ensuring that the entire organization understands cybersecurity risk, procedures and precautions.

With each new piece of technology added to a network, a new risk is added. In the healthcare industry, patient data is extremely sensitive and organizations have a duty to protect that data to their best ability. Make sure your clients know what the risks are when using IoT devices and that they are able to prepare themselves to take on those risks.

About Highland Risk Services

At Highland Risk, we use our expertise and experience to provide insurance information and programs to those who serve long-term care and senior living facilities. Since 2007, we’ve been offering insurance and risk management plans designed to help our agents give their clients the ability to achieve continued growth while simultaneously protecting against loss, containing costs and increasing profitability. With offices to serve you in Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona, we do everything we can to make your experience with us as professional and transparent as possible. To learn more, contact us at (847) 832-9100.