IoHT Challenges & Opportunities

Points Medical Providers Should Consider When Contemplating the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT) Applications

The Internet of Healthcare Things is transforming the way medical providers promote healthy lifestyles to the well and diagnose and treat the sick. The benefits of IoHT include a reduction in the cost of care (and thus the potential to slow down the rate of medical premium increases), a healthier general population, better outcomes for the sick, and the ability of older people to receive care in their homes instead of at the hospital.

As we mentioned in the previous healthcare blogs: Expanding & Implementing Mobile Healthcare and M2M & Internet of Healthcare Things, delivering care over the Internet is challenging because of HIPAA regulations the government put in place to protect patient confidentiality. With so much sensitive information being transmitted, provider organizations need to be very sure that the networks that transmit this information are very secure.

Secure Threat Management Protects Patient Information

The standard for Cradlepoint Secure Threat Management for network connectivity is what Gartner refers to as Ultimate Threat Management.

UTM consists of:

  1. Stateful firewalls
  2. VPN and network segmentation
  3. Network intrusion detection and protection systems
  4. Secure web gateway including content filtering and web security

As Gartner notes, “vendors in this quadrant lead the market in offering new safeguarding features, and in enabling customers to deploy them inexpensively without significantly affecting the end-user experience or increasing staffing burdens.”

Thanks to our partnerships with best-in-breed security applications, Cradlepoint is able to affordably offer 4G LTE connectivity with cloud-delivered UTM applications. Through our partnership with Zscaler, our clients receive scalable, agile, and up-to-the-minute web security. Our work with TrendMicro means that Cradlepoint NetCloud Manager can use TrendMicro’s industry leading DPI (deep packet inspection) system to instantly deploy our CP Secure Threat Management.

CP Secure Threat Management enables healthcare organizations to mitigate dangerous and potentially costly breaches of patient data—personal, financial, and medical. These breaches can both damage a provider’s brand and lead to HIPAA-violation fines.

Make Networks Parallel To Keep Them Secure

Above and beyond its network intrusion and web security services, Cradlepoint also enables providers to create Parallel Networks. If, for example, you have placed check-in kiosks in the lobby of your hospital, you don’t want to have patient data and POS services on the same network you use to manage printers, imaging machines, security cameras, or HVAC. Hackers are very good at accessing a network via these unintelligent devices then pivoting to more sensitive credit card and personal data areas.

To prevent this pivoting, many Cradlepoint healthcare clients create Parallel Networks by installing multiple routing devices in one facility. Each of the devices creates a network that is “air-gapped" or physically separated from the other networks so that hackers cannot breach key systems.

When Speed & Flexibility Are A Must

Since the IoHT is so new, many providers are still experimenting with this kind of healthcare delivery model. It is neither feasible nor practical to run hard wire connections to a diagnostic kiosk — especially if the goal is simply to run a pilot project. The cost of hard wire installations are high, installation times are hard to pin down, and the healthcare organization doesn’t often own the property. With 4G LTE solutions, all that the providers have to do is install a 4G LTE wireless solution. It’s fast, easy, and can be quickly removed and relocated as needed.

Try Doing IoHT Without Centralized Management!

The average healthcare organization may, at any one time, have hundreds or even thousands of connected devices, locations, and vehicles delivering care via IoHT. Networks this complex and far reaching simply cannot be managed individually or on site. It is crucial that provider IT departments be able to centrally configure, monitor, and manage these networks. Cradlepoint NetCloud Manager gives IT these capabilities, plus the ability to monitor and balance loads to get maximum value from their cellular data plans.

Reliable Connectivity Means Reliable Patient Care

There is a huge convenience factor associated with 99.99% uptime. If a patient is filling out a form, it means that they don’t have to start all over again once the network is back up. But in terms of the actual delivery of healthcare using the IoHT, network outage can be more than an inconvenience: it can bring care delivery to a halt. Prescriptions can't be dispensed, patient logs can't be accessed, and critical care can't be delivered. IT department's need business continuity plans to support their internal customers, the healthcare workers, who often deliver care in stressful situations.

Many healthcare organizations operate intelligent systems that rely on connectivity as a core function. If the network goes down, these systems can cease to function and stall operations across an entire institution. That’s why many use Cradlepoint as a failover solution for business continuity: when the backhoe digs up the hardwire or the primary router fails, Cradlepoint devices immediately sense the loss and 'failover' to the wireless solution.

Bringing the Entire Healthcare Delivery System Forward

The days of the hardwire connections may well be numbered. Large organizations may still choose to connect via wired lines but the clinics and sub-departments inside these organizations will, more and more, offer care that is delivered using wireless devices. When it comes to IoHT-enabled mobile, decentralized delivery of healthcare, it only makes sense to make 4G LTE wireless connectivity a central part of your organization's network solution. Those organizations that do are positioned to gain competitive advantage in an already growing competitive world of healthcare. Cradlepoint can help you get there.