The Covid-19 pandemic forced a shift away from the majority of in-person physician visits in order to minimise the risk of spreading Covid-19. A recent GlobalData poll found that this experience may have accelerated the adoption of remote patient monitoring devices. Despite this, a significant minority of respondents continue to have privacy concerns. As the adoption of these devices increases, hospitals will need to ensure that their internet of things (IoT) networks feature robust cybersecurity measures and transparent policies around data sharing and storage.
Since early last year, the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed physicians to limit in-person appointments unless necessary to minimise the transmission risk for patients. Patients adapted to this by using telehealth platforms and apps to continue receiving care from their homes. This experience of decentralised healthcare may have improved patients’ views on the use of remote patient monitoring devices (wearable sensors that upload real-time health metrics to a physician) after the pandemic. Through remote patient monitoring, physicians can access health data that would usually require in-person visits to collect, while the patient has the convenience of remaining at home without a loss of care quality.
GlobalData’s recent poll supported this trend. Out of 201 respondents, 66% said they were now more willing to use a remote monitoring device compared to before the pandemic. In addition, only 6% of respondents were less willing to use them due to efficacy concerns, indicating that the vast majority of patients trust in the capabilities of these devices. The main concern, from 17% of respondents, was that of privacy.
Increasing adoption of these IoT wearable sensors, both in and out of the hospital, will require robust cybersecurity technology and transparent policies to alleviate privacy concerns. One commonly noted problem of IoT technology is weak cybersecurity. Current home automation devices typically require weak or no passwords to access, for example. IoT wearable devices need significantly stronger cybersecurity to ensure patient data is only accessed by those who need it to provide care. Lawmakers will need to ensure that public policy is clear regarding where and how data should be stored, as well as who can access different aspects of the data, so that patient privacy is protected.
The Covid-19 pandemic may have accelerated the adoption of remote patient monitoring devices, with most patients now convinced of their efficacy. Despite this, lawmakers, healthcare networks and patients will need to work together to alleviate significant concerns around maintaining patient privacy using these devices.