Jun 04, 2023

How to Protect the Growing Number of Medical Devices Used for Remote Patient Monitoring

How to Protect the Growing Number of Medical Devices Used for Remote Patient Monitoring

Patient monitoring systems have long been used in hospitals and other controlled situations. On the other hand, Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is distinct in that the monitoring devices are placed in the patient’s house.

These additional capabilities could include videoconferencing capabilities from third-party ecommerce platforms and internet cloud technologies combined with RPM equipment.

As the employment of such technologies expands, it’s critical to guarantee that the infrastructure that supports them can protect patient data’s security, integrity, and accessibility.

The recent move from in-hospital treatment to remote monitoring systems has thrown the entire healthcare system into disarray.

Cybercriminals tried to take advantage, with healthcare accounting for 4 out of every 5 reported breaches in 2020, affecting around 13.5 million people.

Cyberattacks on medical devices continue to be the most common. Security must now be a primary issue for healthcare IoT companies and organizations.

Why is it Important to have a Remote Patient Monitoring System Now?

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) and telemedicine services have become more critical due to COVID-19.

Before the outbreak, healthcare IoT primarily aimed at the elderly, assisting them in being safe at all times and notifying caretakers in the event of an emergency.

Patients can now check their vitals and speak with doctors from the comfort of their own homes.

For monitoring persons with subtle symptoms and treating non-COVID patients, multiple telemedicine options become vital tools. These are some of them:

  • Monitoring devices for persons with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes
  • Patient monitors that measure the process of recovery after surgery
  • Apps for physiotherapy and consultations from afar

On the commercial side, customers in the United States used telemedicine services four times more last year than before.

As medical devices grow in number, there is a possibility of malware, data breaches, or infections due to inadequate healthcare security protocols.

What are the Most Significant Security Concerns and Flaws?

Medical equipment differs significantly from standard terminals in terms of technology. When a computer is hacked, you can disconnect it from the internet and shut it down, but RPM alternatives don’t allow you to do so.

Multiple components of a Remote Monitoring System must be safeguarded. All examples are electronic health record (EHR) systems, mobile devices, biometric monitoring devices, mobile devices, virtual servers, and cloud-based service connections.

Security flaws on any of these aspects put both patients and providers in danger of cyber-attacks.

Unauthorized people may reveal sensitive data or interrupt patient monitoring services if they are not adequately protected.

Numerous breaches could lead to illegal use of healthcare data, delays in sending biometric data to caregivers, erroneous patient diagnoses, or even the lack of healthcare.

A roadmap for organizations developing remote patient monitoring devices has been produced by the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE).

The following are the primary risks to RPM ecosystems, as per the document:

  • Phishing: When attackers pose as trustworthy parties
  • Malicious software: Unauthorised code that is placed into a system to cause it to malfunction
  • Ransomware: A type of extortion that appears as software and demands money to restore regular operation
  • Credential escalation: An attempt to gain access to a user’s account credentials
  • Data Exfiltration: Extraction of sensitive information from susceptible devices with the assistance of malware

The OWASP Internet of Things Initiative, which assists entrepreneurs and large companies enhance safety while creating IoT devices, lists the top concerns for all IoT systems, including RPM systems. These include the following:

  • Passwords that are weak, easily decipherable, or hard-coded – publicly available, irreversible, and simple to choose by experimentation
  • Untrusted network services operating on the devices, such as simple back-end APIs, encryption, identification, and authentication solutions
  • Absence of identification, authorization, or encryption mechanisms, as well as unsafe ecosystem interfaces, such as easy-to-compose back-end API
  • Absence of firmware verification or a safe update method, such as embedded software updates
  • Third-party hardware or software elements that are vulnerable, as well as obsolete software modules and frameworks

Measures to Safeguard Healthcare Data: Where to Begin

It’s critical to safeguard each component of an RPM system to keep it safe.

Connections, gateways, user accesses, devices, and cloud environments must be protected. Secure data management procedures, adherence to necessary healthcare standards, and robust security protocols are all available to assist.

The following are some of the most effective strategies and tactics for achieving this:

Updating Technology

The issue is the susceptibility of obsolete devices that the manufacturer no longer supports.

It’s challenging to defend solutions designed without a safety-first mindset – especially when the software and hardware update systems aren’t adequately protected.

Keeping the Cloud Infrastructure Safe

According to a survey, more than 50% of businesses trust cloud security.

Multi-factor authentication, encryption, and strong configuration can be considered the most common techniques to improve healthcare data protection.

It’s also a good idea to think about moving data processing to the edge.

Edge computing mainly provides for data distribution, screening confidential material at the source, and the transmission of fewer data via a cloud network.

Keeping Network Connections Secure

Equipment for remote patient monitoring is simple to use but susceptible thanks to wireless communication such as cellular connections, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.

An RPM system can be linked to the health provider system via a mobile phone application or a device interface and transfer files.

It’s also critical to improve the reliability of data sharing between patient and doctor software.

Implementation of OTA Updates

IoT businesses want their equipment to stay in business for as long as possible to improve functionality and repair faults.

It is something that OTA technology can help with.

This technology enables users to download software, configurations, security updates, and settings over cellular or mobile networks.

Developers can use OTA to ensure applications and software are up to date and safe. Complying with new regulations is also easier with OTA upgrades.

Adopting a Zero-trust Strategy

IoT links to numerous networks and provides information to the cloud. Thus, it has more access points for intrusions and lesser computing power than traditional security practices.

Zero-trust approaches recommend checking each linked medical equipment and including many tech solutions for IoT security.

Each time the equipment connects to the network, it considers all connections as hostile and wants identification evidence.

Devices’, users, cloud environment’s and the virtual infrastructure’s identities are expected to be validated with zero trust.

Also Read: How is Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) Revolutionizing the Healthcare Sector

Summing Up

RPM devices are a significant advance toward more efficient healthcare that meets the requirements of patients and reaches as many customers as possible.

Patients and clinics benefit from the solution because it reduces costs and frees up time that would otherwise be spent traveling or screening at hospitals.

RPM enhances patient outcomes while also saving your organization money when done correctly. It can even help you earn money if you are a doctor.

Identifying collaborators who comprehend the issues that healthcare organizations and physicians confront, recognizing how to make deployment as easy as possible, and having partnerships in place to optimize costs is the key to doing it right.


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