Medical device companies have made huge strides in developing innovative medical instruments over the last few years. From remote insulin pumps to implantable cardiac defibrillators, these technologies have revolutionized patient care. Healthcare providers using these tools can track patient stats and adjust medication accordingly, thereby improving patient outcomes and experience.

Unfortunately, medical devices and medical cart computers are just as vulnerable as other computer systems to today’s sophisticated hackers.

portable computer system

Dangers of Data Breaches

A data breach at any level can damage clinic customer confidentiality and financial perspectives; data breaches have cost many companies their reputations and millions of dollars to regain control of their stolen data. With breaches of medical devices, however, there’s even more at stake: patient safety.

A hacker could intercept a device and administer a fatal medication dose to a patient, or access a hospital’s entire medical records system, using medical devices as a point of entry.

The risk has been so serious that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Homeland Security, has been leading conversations with stakeholders in the medical community in hopes of reinforcing and strengthening cybersecurity in the healthcare industry.

Now that we’ve established the gravity of the situation, what are some of the steps medical manufacturers should take to safeguard their devices, and hospitals to protect their patients?

Four Tips for Medical Device Manufacturers

Medical cart manufacturers and other device manufacturers are the first line of defense against data breaches. While crash carts offer speed and flexibility that can save lives in emergencies, medical-grade, point of care devices are now expected to offer more than just efficiency and supplies to keep data secure.

1. Quality

Ensure the devices you’re putting out in the market are built to the highest standards with cybersecurity in mind.

2. Monitor

Continuously monitor and assess a product you put out in the market. While it’s impossible to anticipate and eliminate every threat before a product is launched, it is expected you have a plan ready in the event that your devices are hacked.

3. Report

Report cases where one of your devices may have caused or contributed to serious injury or fatality to the FDA.

4. Recognize problems

Also report malfunctions in any of your devices that could cause or contribute to serious injury or fatality, in the event that they recur, to the FDA.

Five Tips for Device Users

Nearly all healthcare facilities use emergency crash carts or computing workstations, and rather than hoping for medical crash cart manufacturers to do the leg work by providing security measures, clinics must be proactive about keeping their information secure.

1. Research before you buy

Ask lots of questions about cybersecurity when you speak to medical designing and manufacturing firms. This may promote transparency, which is too often lacking in medical industries.

2. Implement security

Implement hard-to-hack security measures in your organization by using strong passwords, additional layers of ID verification, smart card systems, etc.

3. Educate staff

Watch out for human error. Sometimes, hackers don’t bother going to the trouble of breaking a complicated system when they can crack an employee, and they’re getting really smart at social engineering, as it’s called.

It’s more important than ever to ensure your internal communications and information security teams are working hand-in-hand to relay the seriousness of the threat of social engineering and provide tips to avoid falling for phishing attacks or interacting with ‘online strangers.’

4. Update

FDA previously made it difficult for healthcare providers to update their systems, but now they’re more lenient if these updates enhance the security of medical devices.

5. Report

Report a fatality or serious injury to the FDA and the manufacturer if you suspect it resulted from a medical device.

Investing in Medical Devices

Medical devices are increasingly vulnerable, and many are wondering if the risks outweigh the medical benefits. The FDA does not approve mobile medical device marketing unless the opposite is true.

Medical devices are a part of your health information system and must be protected with the same level of security as any other IT system. Medical device security is critical because these devices expose your hospital or clinic to HIPAA security issues and potential health risks.

Extra care is necessary to protect mobile computing, computer carts, and powered medical carts. You might configure securely, separate and isolate the network, and audit regularly to keep your information safe. Security should be part of the selection process when purchasing medical devices.

Medical Carts for Hospital Security

Healthcare facility security is not limited to cybersecurity. Emergency medications and medical tools should be kept on hand for when they’re needed yet inaccessible to the wrong people.

Medication computing can be built into the capabilities of medication carts to keep track of patient doses and expiration dates. Power carts should also come with locks to keep potentially dangerous tools away from the wrong hands.

Final Thoughts

Finding high-quality medical devices is one of the most important ways to promote patient health, care, and data security. Scott-Clark keeps physicians in mind, so our products have customer design influence and helpful features like height adjustment capabilities.

To learn more about how our medical carts can improve your facility security, contact Scott-Clark Medical on (512) 756-7300.

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