A recent study by IMS Research shows that in the next 5 years there will be over 50 million connected health devices shipped and over 80% will be purchased by the consumer. This network of remote and continuous monitoring of a patient’s health is referred to as the Internet of Things for medical devices (IoT-MD). The entire market as a whole is set to increase due to an ever growing demand.
Over 53% of Americans say they would use a connected device to monitor their health, and now that we have the convenience of smart phones and app stores at our finger tips, checking your blood pressure or insulin could only be a click away.
We are already used to monitoring our fitness with our connected devices, it was just a matter of time until healthcare companies recognized the market opportunity and provided a solution.
The problem with consumer demand outpacing the market performance though is that companies may release the connected health devices before they have gone through rigorous testing for security vulnerabilities and software bugs.
One product in particular, the Hospira Symbiq Infusion pump, was issued a recall by the manufacturer and is being pulled from the shelves. This pump system is used on critically ill patients who need one or more cartridges of fluid administered through IV drip. The FDA warned that a hacker using the hospital’s WiFi network could manipulate the pump’s dosage being delivered to patient which could lead to an over or under dosage of critical therapy being delivered.
This could happen to many other products that connected to the hospital’s WiFi network such as x-ray scanners, Insulin pumps, dialysis machines, heart rate monitors, ventilators or breathing machines, the list could go on.
Hospitals are working to implement better security measures, but there is no set standard. Security may vary depending upon location.
Another location which may be dangerous for connected devices may be right in the consumer’s home. If hackers are able to use the hospital’s Wifi network to launch an attack, an open or an unsecured network device at your home could give hackers that same access.
If your WiFi network doesn’t require a key, or if there is a connected device such as a smart thermostat that has a bug which allows hackers unauthorized access to your network, then other connected health devices such as pacemakers and pain pumps could also become vulnerable to attack.
Connected health devices are meant to be easy to manage and provide accurate readings, but when they appear to fail, it may be through no fault of your own. It could be a problem with software or security, but you should report this issue to your doctor right away. You should also contact the FDA’s Medwatch programs to report the incident as well so there is a record.
If there is an injury as a result of the failed connected health device or the device was compromised by a hacker, you may be eligible to seek financial compensation through a lawsuit. Call the Abbott Law Group, P.A. if you or a loved one may have been injured due to a connected health device which was hacked or had software bugs.