In a medical office, patients and innovative medical devices used to help take care of patients are the top priorities. As reliable and promising as these devices are, they are still open to data loss, shutdowns, and the world of cybercrime. Are you sure the devices have a data backup plan in place?

Medical Devices Are at Risk

Unprotected medical devices can be extremely harmful to patients’ privacy and a medical practice’s reputation. It can leave a patient’s information open and susceptible to theft by hackers or cybercriminals. This is why cybersecurity is very important and protection is needed for medical devices. In today’s world, medical information has become more valuable than credit card information, especially with data warehousing.

Medical devices now feed data directly into electronic health records. If a cybercriminal gets entry into the device, they can retrieve private information such as social security numbers and personal addresses. Additionally, if a hacker gains access to a device, they can enter inaccurate information that will be sent to the electronic records causing clinicians to misdiagnose patients. A misdiagnosis can lead to the prescription of the wrong medications, clinicians providing improper care or treatment, and can also lead to other potentially fatal errors.

Imagine the devastation of a healthcare organization or medical device manufacturer if a patient is affected due to a medical device hack. Not only can this impact the most important factor, the patient’s health, it can also cause a financial catastrophe. Federal and state regulators can impose fines, and patients themselves can decide to pursue a lawsuit against the organization. To prevent a security breach, privacy and compliance plans need to be created.

Medical facilities and organizations should make an inventory of all medical devices, perform a risk analysis as often as possible, identify operational weaknesses, document policies and procedures for the devices, and implement device maintenance. It is also important to identify potential physical and technological threats so they can come up with a plan to prevent and handle them. It’s important to be proactive and create corrective plans in case of a breach or a loss of data. Multi-layered plans should be created that involve protecting data that addresses all medical devices, physical storage network infrastructure, application, server, data backup and user security.

Certified healthcare security and privacy consultants can help if an organization does not have the time or expertise to take on the security review and strategic planning. They can create a plan specifically catered to your organization and its medical devices. Many of the planning and security breaching preventive steps are common sense, yet they are often ignored. Simple steps include adding encryption and strong authentication and removing default passwords such as ‘admin.’

Cloud-Based Health Data Backup and Management

Recently, most medical devices are managed within local hospital departments. This centralized IT management is done in order to improve consistency and reduce costs. A large number of hospitals don’t want to take on the responsibility of managing IT in house, so they are migrating to the use of cloud-based medical device data backups and repositories. Cloud-based management allows patient health information to be encrypted and kept safe behind a data center firewall, and organizations are able to more easily comply with constantly changing regulations.

A cloud service provider takes on the responsibility for operational management and maintenance of the IT infrastructure. It can regularly schedule updates that often go unperformed and can be an aid for data backup and disaster recovery. There are also many additional advantages to hosting data in “the cloud.” Since it is online, it provides clinicians 24/7 access to a patient’s data from multiple locations, not just during their shifts at the hospital. With the right cloud service partner, hospitals can manage costs, improve patient outcomes, and positively rely on medical device data. 

Managed Services Group has helped a number of medical partners migrate from a physical server environment to a secure cloud platform. With a network audit and risk assessment, we are able to make this move without disruption and with every security measure in place. If you’d like more details about the process, please contact us and we can walk you through the steps we take for a successful transfer.