Tag Archives: mHealth

Contrasting Healthcare Cybersecurity Risks Speculation with Reality

How Hackers are Costing Hospitals Millions of Dollars Possibly Hindering Wearable Medical Device and IoT Healthcare Innovations That Could Advance Patient Care

Medical Device Cybersecurity

In our last blog, we discussed an article, “Hackers Will Target Hospitals Like Never Before in 2017.” This time, we are again discussing an article big, scary headline that relates to hackers and healthcare cybersecurity—but with a twist.

 

The twist is that last week’s headline used the auxiliary verb “will” to speculate about potential cybersecurity risks, as where this week’s past-tense headline reflects on the harsh realities and outcomes of those risks: “Hackers Hit 320% More Healthcare Providers in 2016 than in 2015, Per HHS Data.”

 

If indeed both headlines are accurate, then a certain logic dictates hackers will hit at least 321% more healthcare providers in 2017 than in 2016. But it’s not the numbers themselves that are most interesting; instead, what’s most interesting is where they came from: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 

HHS apparently takes hospital hacking pretty seriously, as illustrated in the article:

 

“$23,505,300 was paid to the HHS Office for Civil Rights in 2016 to resolve HIPAA violations that occurred at 13 provider organizations during 2012-2013.”

 

Obviously, HHS’ concern is for the patient privacy—and violations are obviously costly…and presumably getting costlier. After all, if the average fine during 2012–13 was more than $1.8 million, and if the frequency of hacking continues to increase as expected, then presumably, HIPAA violations and the millions of dollars in fines will increase too.

 

Along with the unfortunate loss of privacy for some patients, there’s also the unfortunate economic reality involved in this: Somebody will have to pay, which usually means the customer (read: patients).

 

Extending this notion further, there’s also the economic impact on hospitals being willing to adopt new technologies—such as wearable medical devices and IoT healthcare devices—that require access to those same hackable networks and arguably make them more vulnerable. Not only does this hurt patients that might benefit from hospitals that might otherwise be more inclined to adopt wearables, but of course, it arguably slows innovation, which certainly does not benefit medical device designers and developers.

 

The article adds a point in this context:

 

“Risks are no longer just about loss or theft of data. The ransomware attacks of 2016 show how security incursions can restrict the availability of health data to providers, impacting their ability to deliver care.”

 

If there is a silver lining, it’s that healthcare and technological innovation are difficult forces to slow down. From the doctors that commit their lives to healing others to the medical device designers that thrive on making products better, faster, smaller, etc. for those doctors, one can hope that the good guys will continue to keep a step ahead of the bad guys. The pivotal factor, of course, is cybersecurity—a topic we’ve also been following closely in this blog.

 

However, as we said last week, this leads to the current technological Gordian knot in our industry: Digital security technologies like Blockchain can protect the good guys from the bad guys—but it also can make it harder to protect the good guys from the bad guys. Watch this space for more on this subject…

 


 

DeviceLab is an ISO-13485 certified medical device development company that has completed more than 100 medical device design projects of varying complexity—including medical device software development and wireless medical device design services for the newest breeds of medical IoT, mHealth and medical wearables.

Top 3 Medical Device Design and Development News and Blogs of the Week: April 2, 2017

This week’s top news and blogs include securing wireless and IoT medical devices health data with blockchain and Cloud networks, and a new IoT institute at the University of Florida.

 

DeviceLab is keenly interested in diverse aspects that relate to medical device design and development—in particular, mHealth and healthcare IoT. When we find information particularly exceptional or interesting, we often share it on our @devicelab Twitter feed (which we encourage you to follow). This is a weekly post that shares the best medical device design and development information that we found from the previous week.

 

1. Blockchain Can Help Secure Medical Devices, Improve Patient Privacy

For months, we’ve been sharing articles and writing about security for wireless medical devices—especially as a crucial obstacle for exploiting the tremendous mHealth potential for medical IoT devices.

 

And for months as we’ve been following and researching this topic, the concept of blockchain as a potential solution has frequently occurred.

 

This preface is an important reason for why this article is being highlighted this week, because it immediately touches on one of the problems with embracing blockchain for any industry, much less healthcare:

 

“…mistrust of the technology because of blockchain’s potential performance problems, and its association with ransomware and use as payment for illegal items on the Dark Web.”

 

Blockchain’s appeal—and potential for misuse—is because it does its job very well: It’s decentralized network of nodes makes it incredibly secure, and thus, private.

 

On the other hand, it’s akin to the situation in 2015-2016 when the FBI couldn’t hack the iPhone from the San Bernardino terrorist attack: Another case of technology working a little too well. And that’s the problem with blockchain, or, as the article explains:

 

“Since blockchain is decentralized, public blockchains with nodes in other countries may present problems if they don’t move to new code bases as revisions become available.”

 

2.

Healthcare Data Storage Options: On-Premise, Cloud and Hybrid Data Storage

This article addresses importance of security for wireless medical devices in another light: data storage. However, the differences between this and the previous article are noteworthy because of how they address the problem/solution paradigm faced by healthcare providers and the medical device design and manufacturing companies that make products for them.

 

Most simply, blockchain is a potential solution to the problem of securely transferring of health data. However, securely storing that health data in a network is another matter—especially if it will be accessed by physicians and patients (via mHealth and IoT devices, for instance).

 

In past years, healthcare intranets were precisely that: networks within the organization that either didn’t connect to the outside world or didn’t need to. However, as the article explains:

 

“One of the biggest data storage challenges healthcare organizations face is how to piece together legacy systems while integrating new systems into the infrastructure.”

 

Along with finding solutions that address the singular issue of security, there are other related—and important—issues such as cost, and this is where the riddle of in-house vs. outsourced (and traditional vs. cloud) data storage becomes more complex.

 

3. A More Secure, Connected Future: New Institute at University of Florida Will Focus on IoT

A couple weeks ago, we wrote about a Department of Defense grant to the University of Auburn to develop mobile medical device technology for diabetes management. Now there is news about the University of Florida launching an entire institute for the study and advancement of IoT!

 

Similar to what we said about Auburn, this is exciting news because it is yet another indication of the high expectations and potential for wireless technologies such as IoT. These are exciting times!

 


DeviceLab is an ISO-13485 certified medical device development company that has completed more than 100 medical device design projects of varying complexity—including medical device software development and wireless medical device design services for the newest breeds of medical IoT, mHealth and medical wearables.

IoT, Human Factors and Value-Based Care: Our Recommended Topics at MDM 2017

Orange County medical device design and development company DeviceLab shares its recommendations for panels and presentations at MDM 2017.

Earlier this week, we published a news release that announced our participation at the upcoming 32nd Annual MD&M West Conference as an exhibitor.

 

Of course, we are excited to attend what is billed as “the world’s largest collection of medical device manufacturers and suppliers” and to demonstrate our  Apollo™ wireless medical device electronic systems platform via our breathtaking “hospital bed of the future” display.

 

However, these conferences are not just about showcasing medical device design and development companies, but instead to provide opportunities for the medtech community to educate and engage in panels and presentations.

 

As much as possible, we try to find time away from our booth to attend these panels and talks. If you are attending MDM 2017—and especially if you follow this blog—the following are the topics for which we are most interested and think you will be too!

 

Medical IoT and Healthcare Wearables

For the past couple years, we’ve been closely following wireless medical device design in our blog. Our most recent blogs were about medical IoT and healthcare wearables! Therefore, it should come as no surprise that we are eager to attend as many medical IoT and healthcare wearables events as we can, especially these:

Human Factors in Medical Device Design

Medical device human factors is another topic that we’ve recently covered in our blog, and again, we are enthused to learn there will be several intriguing events that explore this crucial aspect of medical device design success:

Value-Based Care and Medical Devices

Although we don’t write much about value-based care as it relates to medical devices, we still think this is an important topic due to how it is changing Medicare reimbursements for hospitals and clinics:


 

DeviceLab will be at booth 813 on February 7–8 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and on February 9 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.