HIPAA needs to cover Internet of Things, says report

The Internet of Things has implications for healthcare in the future.

With the amount of devices connected to the internet increasing, it's possible that official regulations involving these sources will need to change as well. The Federal Trade Commission has released a report looking at, among other things, the implications for HIPAA as the "Internet of Things" trend takes hold. This refers to the concept of previously purely functional electronic devices gaining internet access and becoming "smart."

The report cites information from other sources which asserts that this year will see 25 billion devices connected to the internet, a number that is expected to double in just an additional five years. This could extend to devices as common as cars, homes and cameras.

In terms of medical equipment, this could include important devices such as insulin pumps that are needed for effective treatment. It identifies four important principles (security, data minimization, notice and choice and legislation) as key standards for information distribution discussed at a recent workshop. Data minimization is a term for reducing the amount of information that companies gather, and limiting it to only what each one needs. The FTC has received some criticism over its approach in this effort.

Towards the end of the report, the Commission outlines its chief recommendations for securing the Internet of Things, including better legislation for security. It also states that it will further support different data security options for better performance.

"The Commission has continued to recommend that Congress enact strong, flexible, and technology-neutral legislation to strengthen the Commission's existing data security enforcement tools and require companies to notify consumers when there is a security breach," the report reads. 

To achieve maximum compliance and avoid the HIPAA violations that could come with the newer technology as it gets more pervasive, organizations should turn to consultants for assistance in understanding how newer rules apply to them.

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