In this thesis, we examine how stakeholders (patients, physicians, manufacturers of medical implants, and security experts) think about the safety and potential risks of medical implants. The central question of this thesis is as follows:
To what extent do people have confidence in the possibilities of new medical implant technologies that can be remotely controlled, and how can this be explained?
With the sub-questions:
What are the ideas stakeholders hold (patients, physicians, manufacturers of medical implants, and security experts) on the safety and possible risks of medical implants?
How can this trust/distrust in implantation technologies be explained?
To answer these questions, I focus on the way that patients, physicians, manufacturers, and security experts appreciate the wireless applications on the RCMI’s. The emphasis in this study is on the patients. Patients are entirely dependent on their medical implant, for them, it’s of the greatest importance to have trust in the medical application. The ideas that people have about safety and possible risks of RCMI’s is partly determined by the amount of knowledge in computer/Internet security. To gain more insight, the way that patients deal with the security of their online data will be investigated. To obtain deeper insight into the different attitudes regarding confidence in medical implants, physicians, manufacturers, and security experts will also be interviewed. In this way, it is possible to place the trusting attitude of patients in a broader social framework.
Physicians have a significant influence when it comes to the way patients think about the risks of RCMI’s. Informing patients about the application and the latest developments in the field of medical interventions is an important part of their work. It is striking that in the information leaflets that doctors give to patients, no attention is paid to the risks of hacking into RCMI’s. By not mentioning this information, it creates the impression that doctors do not know of this risk. To further investigate this, physicians will be asked about their ideas on hacking RCMI’s and look at the ways that they stay informed about the latest developments. Also, attention is paid to how patients appreciate the expertise of their doctor regarding their RCMI and what they think of the information procedure (the quality of the explanations, comprehensibility of the information leaflets, and manuals that may be included with an implant).
Manufacturers also play a significant role in how the safety and potential risks related to medical implants are viewed. Confidence in the quality of their products is critical, and that is why the way that respondents perceive manufacturers is an important part of answering the central question. Therefore, patients, physicians, and security experts are asked about their ideas on how manufacturers deal with security risks, but also how the quality of RCMI’s is appreciated. I will also look at the ways that manufacturers of medical implants try to increase confidence in their products.
Finally, within this research, security experts will be asked to assess the ideas that people have about the safety and potential risks of medical implants using their background in computer security and, if possible, to share their own experiences in this area.