Hospitals to medtech: Clean up your cybersecurity act


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A consortium of hospital associations wants the medical device industry to up its game when it comes to interoperability and data sharing, especially concerning cybersecurity.

The group issued a report this month to make recommendations for all stakeholders in the U.S. hospital care system, including providers, patients, physicians, insurers and industry. The Jan. 18 report, “Sharing Data, Saving Lives: The Hospital Agenda for Interoperability,” in part urged medtech makers to clean up their act regarding the security of patient data in the Internet era.

“Medical device manufacturers must do more to confront the privacy challenges that unsecurable devices may pose to hospitals and health systems,” the authors wrote. “Hospitals and health systems, clinicians and patients must be able to trust that the data being shared is accurate, secure and being used in accordance with best practices and patient expectations. Security and privacy requirements must be embedded into every layer of the infrastructure. This includes mechanisms to validate the practices and standards of third-party apps and APIs that allow more flexible sharing of data. The infrastructure also must include a mechanism for health care providers to verify that a request for information is authorized, and each entity with access to individuals’ data must be responsible for appropriately securing and using that data.”

Specifically, the AHA wants medtech to expand the “plug and play” approach in the design and function of its devices, enhance the security of data collected and transmitted by those devices and add lifecycle support for them.

More generally, the report identified six key issues “as the surest pathways to full interoperability,” including security and privacy; efficient, usable solutions; cost-effective, enhanced infrastructure; “standards that work;” connecting beyond electronic health records; and shared best practices.

“The ability to communicate vital health data is necessary to realize the full potential of our nation’s system of health care. This joint statement from seven leading associations representing America’s hospitals and health systems, and the physicians and care team members who practice within these systems, sets forth our agenda in support of the urgent need for continued momentum on improving interoperability among health information technology (IT) systems—a goal that holds great promise for lasting improvement in patient care. Together, we seek to enlist and expand public and private stakeholder support around this goal to benefit all individuals, their families and caregivers,” according to the report.

The hospital consortium that created the report includes America’s Essential Hospitals, the American Hospital Assn., the Assn. of American Medical Colleges, the Catholic Health Assn. of the United States, the Children’s Hospital Assn., the Federation of American Hospitals and the National Assn. for Behavioral Healthcare.

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UnitedHealth Group’s Optum sues VP who left for Amazon venture

judge gavel lawsuit medtech medical device Optum Amazon

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UnitedHealth Group’s Optum IT-based health services unit has sued former VP David Smith, claiming that he misappropriated trade secrets before leaving to join a new healthcare venture supported by Amazon.

Smith’s lawyers are seeking to move the case to arbitration.

The complaint, filed Jan. 16 in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, accuses Smith of printing out a confidential Optum in-depth healthcare market analysis just a minute before printing out his resume. It was the same day that he spoke with the healthcare innovation venture nicknamed ABC, now led by Dr. Atul Gawande and supported by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase.

Smith, who went from being VP of corporate strategy to being VP of product during 18 months at Optum, also sought confidential information from colleagues that was not related to his job duties, according to the lawsuit complaint.

Smith resigned Optum last month to join ABC as director of product strategy and research. Just a day before he told Optum that he planned to resign, he printed out a highly confidential document including product portfolio performance, new product development and a product job family and assessment plan, the complaint said.

“If Smith is permitted to work for ABC, he will inevitably use Optum’s trade secrets to expedite ABC’s development of competitive capabilities and products. Even if those products take more than a year to commercialize, Smith’s assistance in the process of beginning to develop them now is a direct competitive harm to Optum,” Optum’s lawyers said in the complaint.

Optum is seeking an injunction to prevent Smith from working for ABC or divulging trade secrets, as well as damages.

Smith’s lawyers in their own filing argue that the dispute falls under Optum’s employment arbitration policy, so the case should be handled through arbitration, not a lawsuit trial.

Said Smith’s lawyers: “There is no reason for this case to be in court.”

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Cynerio poised to enter U.S. healthcare cybersecurity market

 said it has completed a $7 million funding round to fuel growth in North America for its healthcare-focused cybersecurity platform.

Investors include global venture capital firms, Accelmed, an unidentified medtech investment firm, and RDC, and RDC, a joint venture between Israeli investment firm Elron and Israeli defense systems manufacturer Rafael.

Get the full story on our sister site, Medical Design & Outsourcing.


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What you need to know about growing cyber threats to medtech

Medical devices are an especially rich cybersecurity target for malicious activity by those seeking commercial gain or just trying to wreak havoc. And while data theft is a serious threat, the risks posed by hacks that involve the expanding universe of networked medical devices can be especially menacing.

Nach Davé and John Pappan, Premier Research


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In 2015, the FDA warned that a networked infusion pump was vulnerable to being accessed and controlled by unauthorized users. Concerned that attackers could harm patients by altering their medication dosing, the agency warned healthcare facilities to discontinue its use. Years earlier, before hacking of these devices was on most people’s radar, doctors for former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered that his heart defibrillator’s wireless capability be turned off to prevent the possibility of tampering by terrorists.

Get the full story on our sister site, Medical Design & Outsourcing.

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What is the future of medtech in 2019?

future of medtech medical device predictions crystal ball

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A global push to increase medical device industry regulation and the continued blurring of high tech and medtech – those are but some of the predictions that Medical Design & Outsourcing editors are hearing from experts.

Read on to discover some of the top predictions of where the industry is going in 2019.


Senior editor Nancy Crotti and assistant editor Danielle Kirsh contributed to this report. 

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Hospital software dev Jump Tech raises $3m

Jump Technologies

Hospital supply chain solutions developer Jump Technologies said today it closed a $2 million follow-on investment round.

The Eagan, Minn.-based company developed and supports the JumpStock could-based hospital supply chain software, according to a press release.

The financing round was led by Black Granite Capital and joined by new strategic investor Mount Sinai Ventures, as well as two large unnamed investors, Jump Tech said.

“Health Systems need to drive innovation in business practices and technologies, not only in clinical care or practice. Our partnership with Jump Technologies has enabled the development of a best-in-class inventory management solution that reflects the unique needs of our system and brings increased efficiency and support to our world-class clinical teams and the patients we serve,” Les Grant of Mount Sinai Health System said in a prepared statement.

“Additional investment capital helps us expand our footprint more quickly to hospitals and health systems across the country. Hospitals invest in cutting-edge technology to treat patients, but when it comes to inventory management, some facilities still rely on individuals counting materials in store rooms every day. We’re improving this dramatically with our powerful automation and data analytics and simple user interface. By delivering actionable analytics that are visible to all areas of the hospital, we can positively impact the supply room, patient care, and an organization’s bottom line,” Jump Tech CEO John Freund said in a press release.

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Dartmouth-Hitchcock hospitals to deploy Philips’ tele-ICU program

Philips’ eICU program combines predictive analytics, data visualization, and advanced reporting capabilities to deliver vital information to bedside caregivers. (Image courtesy of Royal Philips)

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (Lebanon, N.H.) has agreed to implement Royal Philips’ (NYSE: PHG) eICU program technology.  The program aims to help reduce mortality, length of stay, and ventilation days while providing care to patients wherever they are located.

Philips’ eICU is a tele-ICU program that will link specialists at the health system’s flagship hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, N.H., with the patient’s local hospital. Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s program will start with medical, surgical, and neurology intensive care units at DHMC, along with the intensive care unit at Cheshire Medical Center. The program’s tele-ICU hub will also be located at DHMC, where it will leverage Philips’ IntelliSpace eCareManager, the program’s source-agnostic software, providing clinicians with a single integrated view of patient data.

Get the full story on our sister site, Medical Design & Outsourcing.

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Senators question basis for FDA’s digital health pre-cert pilot

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass., left), Tina Smith (D-Minn., center) and Patty Murray (D-Wash. right) [Images are public domain]

Three Democratic senators representing major high tech and medtech hubs in the United States are questioning the statutory basis of FDA’s new pilot program for digital health product precertification.

“We support FDA’s efforts to update the medical device review regime to better accommodate digital health devices and believe that it is an important step in ensuring that America remains an innovative, cutting-edge producer of medical devices. However, it is essential that changes to FDA’s regulatory framework are done in compliance with the current statutory framework and do not compromise public safety.” Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote in a letter dated Oct. 10 to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

Their letter requests a response from Gottlieb by Nov. 9. FDA plans to respond directly to the senators, said agency spokesperson Stephanie Caccomo.

Get the full story on our sister site Medical Design & Outsourcing. 

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Philips buys military health-monitoring software

Chief Master Sgt. Robert Bean, an Air Force pararescue jumper, demonstrates how Batdok can be worn on the wrist, displaying the health status of multiple patients. (Photo by
Richard Eldridge/US Air Force)

Philips Healthcare has signed a non-exclusive patent license agreement with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory for a mobile software application that provides integrated, real-time patient monitoring.

Known as Batdok, an acronym for Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit, the software application was developed by the 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Designed as a wearable technology, it allows a medic to efficiently monitor multiple casualties in the field using a smartphone or tablet. Adaptation for civilian applications will advance telemedicine capabilities, the company said.

Get the full story on our sister site, Medical Design & Outsourcing.

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Amazon lures ex-FDA chief health informatics officer for healthcare skunkworks

Amazon (NSDQ:AMZN) is continuing to build its healthcare team, this time picking up former FDA chief health informatics officer Taha Kass-Hout, according to a report from CNBC.

Kass-Hout is slated to take up a business development role with Amazon’s Grand Challenge team, a moonshot technology program similar to Google‘s (NSDQ:GOOG) Google X lab, according to the report.

Amazon has not yet released details on the hire, or what projects in specific that Kass-Hout will work on as the company stays hush-hush on its healthcare endeavors.

Kass-Hout will reportedly be working alongside Amazon Grand Challenge chief Babak Parviz, who previously acted as a director at Google X but jumped ship to Amazon in 2014 as a VP, CNBC reports.

Amazon may be looking to use Kass-Hout’s expertise in healthcare informatics in a project aiming to improve consumer access to healthcare records, CNBC theorizes. The move would be in line with Kass-Hout’s previous work, as he led the openFDA initiative while at the Agency in 2013.

Most recently, Kass-Hout worked at Michigan’s Trinity Health, departing last May according to his LinkedIn profile.

In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was looking to revamp its medical supplies business and turn the unit into a major supplier to US hospitals and clinics.

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