(NOTE: This story was originally posted to CRN.com March 30.)
Looking to score a win or two in the Internet of Things? Turn to the healthcare industry.
As more medical devices become connected, that market is turning to channel partners for security services and the vertical market knowledge they need to get the most out of IoT applications.
"Solution providers in the healthcare area have an opportunity in ... in securing [connected devices] and following the physical, technical and administrative requirements of HIPAA," said Steve Meek, co-founder and president of The Fulcrum Group Inc., a Keller, Texas-based solution provider.
Healthcare is a lucrative market for IoT applications – research firm Markets and Markets predicted that IoT in the health care market is expected to grow from $32 billion in 2015 to $163 billion by 2020.
Meek said that IoT opportunities are skyrocketing for the health care market as hospitals and other health care customers are using IoT applications to improve real-time patient engagement, remote monitoring, chronic disease management, medication management, and increase operational efficiency.
Despite the benefits of IoT technologies for the health care market, security is still top of mind for customers – a concern that is triggering health care professionals to seek out channel partners who understand the ins and outs of the vertical market's strict requirements and guidelines.
"The inverse relationship between enablement and security means that an industry already plagued by security challenges could be impacted by even more," said Meek. "More devices that are attached to the network means a larger attack surface for attackers. Devices that are not centrally managed are harder to maintain."
HIPAA compliance poses another challenge for health care customers trying to implement IoT applications. However, the channel's vertical knowledge of HIPAA regulations will be a vital point of differentiation as they help customers conduct a comprehensive risk analysis.
"Security is the number one conversation throughout [health care IoT applications], because of HIPAA guidelines," said Brian Blanchard, vice president of Cloud Solutions at Chicago, Ill.-based 10th Magnitude.
"In the healthcare space, there is a high degree of security from everything from the individual device that might be monitoring blood pressure, to the gateway and how it registers with the central data systems, so you can tell, confidently, that you're getting the blood pressure from the right patient," Blanchard said.
Solution providers have an array of opportunities to help customers in the health care space – such as creating secure network designs that compartmentalize IoT devices from other parts of the network that contain electronic protected health information (ePHI). They can also work with their health care clients to develop proper decision criteria for new solutions, and they can conduct vulnerability assessments against IoT devices to check for other potential security issues.
10th Magnitude provides security audits for customers in the health care market– including one California-based medical supplier, which developed an IoT solution to help doctors collect and monitor health data from connected scales and blood pressure cuffs in nursing homes.