By INGA SHUGALO
While the healthcare IoT demand forecasts are more than generous, anticipating the market to hit $158.07B by 2022, there is still a certain delay in IoT adoption across the industry. Connected medical devices, especially those that are directly involved in patient care, are adopted cautiously due to potential security vulnerabilities and risks to patient safety.
One of the reasons behind the hesitant adoption of healthcare IoT in
cardiology is preexisting concerns about the security of implantable medical
devices, such as pacemakers.
The recent pacemaker crisis revealed the vulnerabilities in pacemaker
software across several major vendors. If exploited, software vulnerabilities would
allow hackers to take over the device and control it fully. The crisis led to device
recalls, certain features disabled, and even remote updates cut off completely to
avoid unacceptable health risks.
This series of events led to a cautious attitude toward the emerging cardiology IoT. Since we can’t be sure that all exploits and vulnerabilities are eliminated in less advanced systems, are we really ready to take a step forward to more elaborate healthcare software solutions at this point?
The fact of the matter
is, cardiology is already taking these steps. The new generation of pacemakers has
embedded sensors to monitor a patient’s blood temperature, sinus node rate,
breathing, and other vitals. This data is used to flexibly alter the heart
rate, slowing or speeding it depending on a patient’s current activity level. They
also inherited remote control from their predecessors. Practically, next-gen
pacemakers are IoT devices.
industry can either stigmatize the security concerns or choose to adopt a new perspective,
seeing the pacemaker crisis as an opportunity to create a solid platform for
unbiased adoption of upcoming connected cardiac devices.
The Pacemaker Crisis: Fast Facts
In 2017, FDA recalled approximately 465K pacemakers made by Abbott due to their potential security issues. In particular, the devices were identified as vulnerable to hacking, which