Considerations for IoMT devices in the home
IoMT devices have the potential to expand home care, but the infrastructure to support them is often not robust enough. When Seattle Children’s Hospital made a big effort to manage asthma remotely, some patients didn’t have reliable access to cellular connections, which meant devices were sending data at a given time and s They stopped the next day.
Not all patients spoke English, which sometimes led to misunderstandings about how to use and maintain the devices. Patient families had to mail the devices back to get replacements, leading to data gaps.
The health system was unable to send engineers to remote sites to provide technical assistance. This meant that the organization did not have visibility into networks or patient safety.
Another common challenge is reimbursement for home health care initiatives. Reimbursement is often not enough to cover the program, meaning hospitals lose money on home care.
“If we could put together a team to send to people’s homes, that would be great. The hospital at home initiative is great and the results are great, but many hospitals are withdrawing these services,” Chaudry said.
Changes must be made on the payer side to ensure the future success of home health care programs. Making these changes can lead to better patient outcomes and fewer in-person follow-up visits.
Mastering Healthcare Complexity to Strengthen IoMT Device Security
IoMT devices are often managed by biomedical or clinical engineering teams. However, as more medical devices are connected to the network, teams must collaborate, Douglas said. Failure to do so can lead to network vulnerabilities and confusion about what is on the network.
To improve security compliance, Seattle Children’s moved its biomedical engineering team into the IT department. This organizational structure facilitates governance and architectural review, Chaudry said. He said health care organizations should form governance groups if they haven’t already.
“We’re not trying to do command and control, but a device is no longer just a device. It’s a mini-computer,” he said.
Douglas said the healthcare industry is heavily regulated but lacks governance that ensures manufacturers bring devices to market safely.
Chaudry agreed. Although the Food and Drug Administration has established standards for how medical devices are built, many of these devices are still in operation. the Windows 7.
“How can we enable such devices to provide life-saving treatments? The software is not regulated, which needs to be looked at at the federal level,” he said.
Chaudry asked Douglas why manufacturers and security companies aren’t collaborating to provide IoMT devices designed with security in mind.
“If we had a standardized approach on how to market devices, we would see some interesting collaboration,” Douglas said. He said Palo Alto Networks is pushing for this, but it’s not an easy process.
Relationships between health organizations and medical device manufacturers can be adversarial, Chaudry said, especially since specific markets can be small.
“We are in a situation where we have no power. This is a patient safety issue, and now it’s all software driven,” he said. “I’m not saying we should stifle the industry from innovating, but we need to impose standard protocols. If you check the boxes, then you’re good to go, and if you don’t, then you’re not. If you’re not using the latest version of an operating system, no luck.