Hospitals’ Connectivity Conundrum
Hospitals’ Connectivity Conundrum: Hospitals have adopted the risks of connected tech, without its protections
My friend recently shared this news article: Cyberattacks pose growing threat to US hospitals | ABCNL
Hospitals are under cyber attack. Patients are suffering and dying as a result.
So many of the technologies in our lives - from my Tesla to my partner’s CPAP - are directly connected to the internet. We benefit from this. Because it is connected, my car gets new software updates that enhance my user experience and free me from having to go to a service center for a safety update. My partner’s doctor can get real-time updates from his sleep apnea device and can tune its settings to his particular sleep needs.
Hospitals are full of connected health technology that does not connect directly to the internet. Originally, this lack of connection was by design: a medical device that is not connected to the internet can’t be hacked via the internet.
Now, hospital networks are under attack. And hospitals don’t have the resources to protect themselves from the attacks. Almost all medical devices are connected to hospital networks in some way. Hospitals can’t protect their networks, and they can’t apply all the software patches that protect the devices on the networks. Medical device manufacturers can’t help, because unlike Teslas and the CPAP most hospital-based medical devices weren’t designed to be remotely updated.
In short, hospitals have fully adopted connected health technology, but have not fully adopted its protections, and don’t have the resources to do so.
The causes of this conundrum are systematic and some were created by government policies. The solutions will necessarily be innovative (i.e., solutions that we’ve never seen before). The solutions will involve new tech, new business models, new entrants, and new policies.
This is a HUGE problem, that will take sustained effort, require a lot of people and institutions, needs 100x solutions, and deeply affects real human lives. But, I’m an enthusiastic, extroverted, optimist, optimizer.
Thus, I’m pretty excited about being in this industry at this time. There’s a lot of work to be done.
~Shannon, the Optimistic Optimizer