Healthcare IT: Is Your Network Safe and Secure for All Your Connected Medical Devices?

Technology enabled devices within the U.S. healthcare industry continue to grow at the speed-of-light. The emergence of IoT, telemedicine, e-clinical trials, and a myriad of other digital medical technologies are directly impacting how care is both delivered and received on a global basis. Great news, right?

Yes and no.

While every newly introduced innovation brings with it potentially life-saving care, the rise in connected medical devices and interoperable platforms has exponentially increased a healthcare organization’s surface area for attack and the overall opportunity for cyber threats. Email attacks, ransomware, external viruses, and data breaches are just a few of the many issues plaguing healthcare’s infrastructure in an increasingly complex (and ever-changing) environment.

Securing Connected Medical Devices, A Top Priority For Healthcare Organizations

One primary concern for healthcare providers striving to minimize cyber threats and optimize security measures? Connected medical devices. Recent reports and statistics estimate there are approximately 15-20  medical devices operating at any given moment in a single hospital room. Almost all of them will be connected to your network. It’s a number that’s only expected to grow as IoT and other cutting-edge innovations bring new technology enabled devices to market. New research indicates that by 2021, the global market for medical devices will reach $1.3 billion, a projected growth rate of 26% for the period.

The unprecedented surge in connected medical devices and technology has healthcare security professionals examining current network infrastructure to pinpoint potential areas of compromise as well as possible security improvements. While there’s no single, impenetrable solution to fortify a hospital or medical facility’s network and secure all connected medical devices, there are several safety measures, processes, and controls that can be implemented in the existing system to lower cybersecurity risk and protect patient data. Some vital steps include:

Implement Device Testing Process

When purchasing connected medical devices, it’s crucial to know with certainty that you’re receiving tested and secured devices before they reach your facility. Ultimately, responsibility for device security testing lies with the manufacturer, an important detail for any healthcare purchasing department. When negotiating terms, procurement stakeholders should work closely with legal to integrate clear security and testing requirements into the contract because once that device enters your facility, security becomes your responsibility.

Create A Standardized Procurement Process

Many healthcare organizations operate in silos, particularly growing health systems that have merged with multiple other systems. As a result, individual departments and teams utilize unique and separate intake methods on medical devices, which can increase the chance of compromised machines and instruments infiltrating the organization. Establishing a uniform process with company-wide purchasing policies and requirements can help confirm required checks and balances as a device works its way on to the network (or into a patient’s hands).

Boost Security Layers Within Your Network

One of the most effective ways to create synergy and security between your connected medical devices and the network is to implement additional security measures within the system itself. The best way to ensure your IT infrastructure stands ready to ward off any potential threats is to partner with a healthcare cybersecurity firm that specializes in connected medical device and IoT security. An experienced and qualified service provider will do more than offer an out-of-the-box static strategy. Instead, your trusted partner will work closely with your team to understand your existing process, potential threats, and ultimate security goals. Your chosen cybersecurity provider will create a customized solution based on your specific needs for real-time compliance, safety, and operational intelligence of all internal network-connected medical devices. A robust, full-scale security program can deliver the big-picture organizational transparency and situational awareness needed to prevent issues before they arise and better protect your connected devices.

Are you worried about cybersecurity at your medical facility? Fortified Health Security can help. Contact us today to hear more.