Joe-Roberson - Fortinet - techxmedia

Security in the brave new world of Connected Medicine

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By- Joe Roberson, Director of information security and EMEA CISO at Fortinet

Industry Perspectives

Connected Medicine is having a growing impact on all of our lives. It’s an exciting combination of data, technology and pharmaceutical expertise. It is significant for the pharmaceutical industry, because of the balance between the great value it offers and the risks that must be managed.

What Does Connected Medicine Mean?

It may be easiest to think of all the medical-related data out there as an ecosystem waiting to be connected. It’s also known as the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) – full of medical devices and applications that connect to healthcare information technology systems using networking technologies. The global IoMT market was valued at $44.5 million back in 2018, and is expected to grow to $254.2 million in 2026, according to All The Research. 

The pharma industry requires the data from within the IoMT to solve today’s challenges. And whether you are dealing with technology, devices, environmental services, facilities, and so on, it all comes back to the same thing – helping the patient.

Patient-centricity Drives Connected Medicine

Technological advances have helped the pharmaceutical industry to think differently. Above all, to ensure the integrity of the data it uses, because if compromised, it can be a matter of life and death. 

This is where security enters the framework. As people take a more proactive view of their health and live longer, complex challenges that require more niche treatments arise. In addition, government expectations of the pharmaceutical industry, coupled with huge leaps in technology, have led to extensive use of operational technology, connected medicine and, ultimately, the connected patient.

It’s a symbiosis, patients generate raw data, that data is cleaned and then provides insights to better treat the patient. A virtuous circle.  As we see it, data-heavy processes and advances, have forced a re-evaluation of business models. But data is useless, unless it can be harnessed for insights.

To mine data, you need technology – artificial intelligence (AI). From injectables to telemedicine, wearables to e-learning – the data harvested is highly valuable. It can be used to power various collaborations, aided by AI and machine learning to speed processes. Partnering with the outside world, beyond existing networks, promises an exciting future, with drug manufacturers increasingly seeing themselves as holistic health service providers. Simon Roach, Head of Transformation and Operations at eClinicalHealth Ltd and former CIO of Global Pharmaceuticals R&D for GSK, recognizes the “great variety of different parties, all with an interest in the totality of the ecosystem that is connected medicine.” 

Collective Visibility is Essential in Medicine

By integrating and protecting every edge in the infrastructure with a cybersecurity platform data transformation is possible. Jessica Riccio, Vertical Marketing Manager at Fortinet, explains: “Close to 60% of patients’ phone apps are in some way helpful to connected medicine, offering a stream of live data points, awaiting analysis.” This data needs to be integrated securely taking into account data compliance needs as well.

Christopher Callahan – Chief Information Security Officer at Weichert Companies and ex Novartis Director, Global IT Risk & Compliance, Cyber Security Operations, says, “if you partner and work with a business, security and compliance are part of the process. It doesn’t have to be a blocker or an inhibitor, it can actually be an enabler, promoting a culture of collaboration that shares a secured responsibility.”

Patient, Innovation, and Collaboration

Pharmaceutical organizations can only succeed and grow with the secure flow of data across connected IT and OT environments within complex, evolving ecosystems. Reducing risk and harnessing life science data unlocks potential. Like a currency, insights gained continue to inform discovery and fuel growth. Troy Ament, Chief Information Security Officer at Fortinet, expands. “With a strong security culture, you have an organization that’s going to embrace all of the risk. Right?” From the development of medications to offering actionable insights, when everyone’s on the same page, security can help empower innovative thinking. To enable this, organizations need to focus on a holistic, end-to-end approach to cybersecurity with leadership and stakeholders prioritizing time and resources that protect their current and future risks.

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