Tag Archives | Healthcare

Artificial Intelligence: Friend or Foe of the Healthcare Industry?

AI ethics and design

Sometime in the future, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will disrupt healthcare as we know it, but not in the ways most people think. Many fear machines will replace or even turn on humans. But the speed with which computer intelligence is advancing offers far more opportunities than dangers.

AI Variants

Today, AI is shorthand for any task a computer can perform just as well as, if not better than, humans. But there are different forms of AI to consider:

  • Most computer-generated solutions now emerging in healthcare rely on human-created algorithms for analyzing data and recommending treatments, not on independent computer intelligence.
  • Machine learning relies on neural networks (a computer system modeled on the human brain), to simulate and even expand on the way the human mind processes data. As a result, not even the programmers can be sure how their computer programs will derive solutions.
  • In deep learning, which is becoming increasingly useful in healthcare, software learns to recognize patterns in distinct layers. Because each neural-network layer operates both independently and in concert – separating aspects such as color, size and shape before integrating the outcomes – these newer visual tools hold the promise of transforming diagnostic medicine and can even search for cancer at the individual cell level.

Is it All Hype?

AI has been around since 1956, but has made precious few contributions to medical practice. Only recently has the hype begun to merge with reality.

AI hype includes a host of sophisticated new solutions from nurse-bots to AInsurance (insurance powered by AI), to AI wearables for the elderly, to name a few. In general, they’re algorithmic and not true machine-learning approaches. Nearly all have failed to move the needle on quality outcomes or life expectancy.

However, if computer speeds double another five times over the next 10 years, machine-learning tools and inexpensive diagnostic software could soon become as essential to physicians as the stethoscope was in the past.

Deep learning could be the very thing that catapults American healthcare into the future, helping to clarify the best care approaches, creating new approaches for diagnosing and treating hundreds of medical problems, and measuring doctor adherence without the faulty biases of the human mind.

The Hard Truth

Just as Uber and Lyft impacted the taxi industry and robotics the manufacturing industry, technology will have an impact on healthcare.

If technology is going to improve quality and lower costs in healthcare, some healthcare jobs will disappear. According to one study, AI is set to take over 47% of the US employment market within 20 years. Though blue-collar jobs have been in technology’s cross hairs for some time, doctors and other healthcare professionals are starting to feel the pressure, as well.

Over time, patients will be able to use a variety of AI tools to care for themselves, just as they manage so many other aspects of their lives today. But, fortunately for doctors, computers have yet to demonstrate the kind of empathy and compassion that millions of patients rely on in their medical care.

To learn more about AI and how aligning technology with ethical values can help advance innovation, explore IEEE’s new Artificial Intelligence and Ethics in Design Part I course program, available for pre-order now. Upon successful completion, engineers receive valuable CEUs/PDHs that can be used to maintain their licenses. Pre-order for your company now.


Pearl, Robert. (13 Mar 2018). Artificial Intelligence In Healthcare: Separating Reality From Hype. Barron’s.

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Medical Device Cyber Security is Essential

medical device cyber security

No one wants to imagine that their pacemaker or insulin pump can be hacked when their life depends on the proper functioning of these medical devices. However, a recent Ponemon Institute survey discovered that 67 percent of medical device manufacturers and 56% percent of Healthcare Delivery Organizations (HDOs) think an attack on a medical device in use is likely to occur over the next 12 months (2017 Trip Wire). That information provides an added layer of anxiety for patients, medical providers, and manufacturers, and makes medical device cyber security more important than ever.

There is good news, though. In the last 5 years, healthcare providers and manufacturers have made an effort to include cyber attacks in their contingency plans, and put into place resources to mitigate a potential breach. (2017 TripWire)

These well designed security plans for medical device cyber security include:

  • Dedicated budget for cyber security
  • Cyber security professionals included in the staffing headcount
  • Risk assessments regularly performed by healthcare providers
  • Regularly conduct penetration testing
  • Security awareness and training programs made available
  • And much more…

The US Food and Drug Administration has been making inroads to mitigate any potential attacks with updates to security measures and by seeking to formalize guidelines. As with all guidelines, they do not have to be followed. However, if a provider adopts the recommendations, medical device cyber security can be improved, making the industry and the patient less apprehensive. (2017 TripWire) Not to mention the fact that the provider can use these security measures as a competitive advantage.

Want to learn more about cyber security and how it can affect the healthcare industry? IEEE offers both cyber security and ethical hacking training to help corporations prepare. Learn more about institutional pricing and request a quote here.


Newman, L. (2017, March 2) Medical Devices Are the Next Security Nightmare. Wired

(2017, August 27) Highs & Lows of Cyber Security in Healthcare. TripWire

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The Prescription Healthcare Needs Now: Stronger Cyber Security

The Prescription Healthcare Needs Now: Stronger Cyber Security from IEEE Educational ActivitiesIf anyone in healthcare technology was feeling sleepy earlier this year, now they must be wide awake. The WannaCry and NotPetya attacks that struck multiple hospitals and healthcare systems within the past few months serve as glaring warnings of the growing cyber threat landscape, along with the costs at stake. While cyber threats are not new, they are not diminishing either. Instead, cyber attackers are working relentlessly to stay ahead of the cyber security curve, eager to thwart hospitals’ defenses by exploiting some weakness that has yet to be patched.

Why is the healthcare industry such a prized target? According to IBM, cyber criminals can use the vast amount of personal information within health records for medical identity theft and fraud, and most healthcare systems are slow to update their cyber security (Zorabedian, 2016). Sophos found in their survey that less than a third of healthcare organizations reported extensive use of encryption, and about a fifth don’t use encryption at all. Yet the hospitals lacking encryption are not the only ones that need to shape up; they share the responsibility with doctors’ offices, insurance companies, and even private employers, who have also been guilty of not encrypting employees’ or clients’ private healthcare information (Zorabedian, 2016).

Aside from implementing more widespread encryption, hospitals need to bolster their defenses by increasing cyber security awareness, adopting more advanced technology, and securing shared networks (Alton, n.d.). These solutions are not without challenges, however, as most hospitals have limited financial resources to dedicate to more personnel or cyber security tools (Calyptix, 2017). Nevertheless, all healthcare staff has a role to play in strengthening their organization’s cyber security. With lives at stake, the risks of lax cyber security are far too great to ignore.

Interested in cyber security training for your organization’s technical professionals? Check out IEEE’s course, Cyber Security Tools for Today’s Environment.


Alton, L. (n.d.). Why the healthcare industry is behind on cyber security. ISACA.

Calyptix. (2017, Jun 13). 10 biggest problems in healthcare cybersecurity. Calyptix Security.

Zorabedian, J. (2016, Apr 26). Why cybercriminals attack healthcare more than any other industry. Naked Security by Sophos.

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Infographic: Healthcare Technology and Internet of Things

The healthcare industry has seen a major shift in its use of technology over the past several decades. Protocol that used to rely on paper and pencil have now been replaced with computers and digital software. Aside from these differences within the hospital, such changes have also affected the way patients communicate with their doctors and monitor their health. The infographic below illustrates some of the major changes in healthcare technology, along with more recent developments related to healthcare technology and Internet of Things.

Infographic: The Evolution of Healthcare technology and Internet of Things from IEEE Educational Activities

Want to find out more about the Internet of Things? Check out IEEE’s Guide to the Internet of Things for more information, and to learn how the healthcare industry is applying Internet of Things concepts.

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New Report: IoT will Help Healthcare Organizations Realize Significant Cost Savings

IEEE Guide to the Internet of Things for HealthcareA recent report from consulting firm Accenture found that the Internet of Things has the potential to offer both healthcare providers and payers significant savings over the next three years. However, only 49 percent of top leadership in healthcare organizations say that they understand what the Internet of Things could mean to their organization, according to the study. Considering that the value of the Internet of Things in healthcare, specifically, could top $163 billion by 2020, it’s important for healthcare organizations to get up to speed quickly on Internet of Things technology for healthcare organizations.

Read the report here.

To learn more about how healthcare organizations can integrate the Internet of Things, check out the new IEEE Guide to the Internet of Things online learning program, which has three modules specifically dedicated to the Internet of Things in healthcare. It’s a convenient way to learn about this emerging technology, and begin to create the strategy to integrate this technology into your organization.

Learn more about our organizational discount pricing here. You can also purchase the training as an individual through IEEE Xplore.

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