This content is part of the Essential Guide: A guide to healthcare IoT possibilities and obstacles
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A pulse on IoT at HIMSS17

As the largest health IT educational program and exhibition, the HIMSS annual conference is a one-stop shop to learn and experience the latest developments and trends in healthcare information technology. HIMSS17 brought together many of the best and the brightest in the industry to offer solutions to the most pressing issues in healthcare.

IoT is having a profound impact in every industry — and healthcare is no exception. Whether used to check patients’ vitals remotely or to monitor temperature of critical drugs delivered to distant regions, IoT technologies have become more pervasive in healthcare. This is for good reason. IoT has the potential to deliver better patient care, improve operational efficiency and drive down healthcare costs. At the same time, IoT poses the challenge of new requirements for cybersecurity and patient data privacy.

Growing security challenges

At HIMSS17, Dominic Cussatt addressed growing security challenges in his presentation, “Securing Medical Devices and the Internet of Things.” He talked about the importance of securing his organization’s medical devices and security posture as his team integrates IoT and becomes more dependent on network-connected technologies. Cussatt, who previously served as cybersecurity policy lead and deputy CISO at the U.S. Department of Defense, now leads information security for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This includes overseeing a $4 billion IT budget to ensure secure and reliable operation of VA information systems and protection of our veterans’ private data. The VA focuses on managing security risks more strategically, integrating with the business and working toward a culture of shared ownership across the enterprise.

As organizations embark on this journey to connect IoT devices to their corporate network, they need to adopt a security-first mindset. Organizations will need to take a risk-based approach and tie that to their business, apply context and intelligence to make data relevant and actionable and lastly intuitively connect users with the data.

Return to IT basics

When exploring this year’s exhibit floor with specialty areas including the HIMSS Cybersecurity Command Center and the Connected Health Experience, we saw a significant focus on securing new technologies and services in IoT. Technologies like biometric IDs, heart rate monitors and cameras are commonplace in healthcare, and organizations showcased how they help secure these systems from cyberattacks and defend patient data associated with these systems. We also saw that as provider organizations brace for IoT’s growing security demands, they are going back to the IT basics of ensuring that their enterprise IT systems are available, maintain 100% uptime and easily scale as provider organizations grow. Having this foundational visibility, reliability and scalability enables healthcare organizations to continuously adapt to new security threats and spot security issues as quickly as possible.

Future of machine data

Organizations are now harnessing machine data to improve their security posture, ensure their critical systems are available and running, and operate applications as expected. The insights gained from machine data analysis also serve to support a number of niche use cases across an organization, especially when enriched with data from additional sources. For example, Molina Healthcare is leveraging its machine data to optimize claims processing and call center operations at clinics across communities. IoT devices’ machine data will be critical to monitor the effectiveness of devices and systems, secure them against threats and ultimately ensure patient privacy.

The future success of healthcare organizations will in large part depend on their ability to securely harness this machine data, which will result in an even better focus on care delivery to transform the patient experience.

This article was co-written by Shirley Golen of Splunk.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.