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The “Disconnects” That Threaten The Connected World

Posted on January 11, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

I’m betting that most readers are intimately familiar with the connected health world. I’m also pretty confident that you’re pretty excited about its potential – after all, who wouldn’t be?  But from what I’ve seen, the health IT world has paid too little attention to problems that could arise in building out a connected health infrastructure. That’s what makes a recent blog post on connected health problems so interesting.

Phil Baumann, an RN and digital strategist at Telerx, writes that while the concept of connecting things is useful, there’s a virtually endless list of “disconnects” that could lead to problems with connected health. Some examples he cites include:

  • The disconnect between IoT hardware and software
  • The disconnect between IoT software and patches (which, he notes, might not even exist)
  • The disconnect between the Internet’s original purpose and the fast-evolving purposes created in the Connected World
  • The disconnects among communication protocols
  • The disconnect between influencers and reality (which he says is “painfully wide”)
  • The disconnects among IoT manufacturers
  • The disconnects among supply chains and vendors

According to Baumann, businesses that use IoT devices and other connected health technologies may be diving in too quickly, without taking enough time to consider the implications of their decisions. He writes:

Idea generation and deployment of IoT are tasks with enormous ethical, moral, economic, security, health and safety responsibilities. But without considering – deeply, diligently – the disconnects, then the Connected World will be nothing of the sort. It will be a nightmare without morning.

In his piece, Baumann stuck to general tech issues rather than pointing a finger at the healthcare industry specifically. But I’d argue that the points he makes are important for health IT leaders to consider.

For example, it’s interesting to think about vulnerable IoT devices posing a mission-critical security threat to healthcare organizations. To date, as Baumann rightly notes, manufacturers have often fallen way behind in issuing software updates and security patches, leaving patient data exposed. Various organizations – such as the FDA – are attempting to address medical device cybersecurity, but these issues won’t be addressed quickly.

Another item on his disconnect list – that connected health deployment goes far beyond the original design of the Internet – also strikes me as particularly worth taking to heart. While past networking innovations (say, Ethernet) have led to rapid change, the changes brought on by the IoT are sprawling and almost unmanageable under current conditions. We’re seeing chaotic rather than incremental or even disruptive change. And given that we’re dealing with patient lives, rather than, for example, sensors tracking packages, this is a potentially dangerous problem.

I’m not at all suggesting that healthcare leaders should pull the plug on connected health innovations. It seems clear that the benefits that derive from such approaches will outweigh the risks, especially over time. But it does seem like a good idea to stop and think about those risks more carefully.

Disappointing Digital Health Experience at CES

Posted on I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This was the 11th or 12th year I’ve attended CES. Living in Las Vegas, it’s easy for me to attend and enjoy the tech playground that is CES. It’s a fun experience for nerds like me to see all the amazing technology. Plus, it’s been fascinating watching the evolution of the event over the year.

When I first started attending CES over a decade ago, there was basically no digital health at the conference. This year, the digital health and fitness section of CES took up probably 1/3 to half of the Sands Convention Center. That’s a huge difference. It’s really like the digital health industry grew from nothing right before my eyes. Turns out the same is true for a bunch of other industries like 3D Printing, Virtual Reality, and Drones to name a few.

While I always get value connecting with many of the people that attend CES, I have to admit that the digital health experience at CES this year was an extremely disappointing experience for me. I did meet a few companies that I’ll write about in the future, but for the most part innovation really seemed to be lacking. I’d describe most of the growth as me too products and big flashy look at us booths.

The former is to be expected. The me too nature of technology always happens. However, the later is what was so disappointing. As I walked by hundreds of booths, they didn’t communicate any sort of unique and interesting innovation. There was a lot of flash and show, but the substance of what was new, interesting, innovative, game changing, etc was totally missing from the experience. Is that because they weren’t doing anything that unique and interesting? I’m afraid that’s the case for many of them.

Given the fact that CES has something like 1 million square feet of exhibit space, I’m sure there was a lot of innovation happening. However, on the digital health side it all felt very incremental to me. Maybe there were some really amazing innovations that were hiding. Or maybe I couldn’t hear about those innovations because the club music in the Under Armour booth was too loud.

I still enjoyed CES because of some of the people who I met with during the event. It’s just too bad the booths have headed towards sizzle and forgot about the steak.