Patient care depends on reliable access to medical devices, so hospital staff need to keep an accurate inventory of this equipment. However, since more devices are connected to hospital networks than ever before, there is an increased risk of cyberattacks. This guide will break down some of the ways that healthcare facilities can better inventory their devices for network security.
Five Ways Healthcare Facilities Can Better Inventory Their Devices for Network Security
1. Avoid Gaps
Accuracy is key when it comes to medical device inventory and cyber security. As healthcare organizations add more network-connected devices to their network, they’re opening additional access points for cyber breaches. Your cybersecurity team needs to know exactly what these devices are and where they are located.
A reliable inventory system allows you to clearly see all of the connected equipment and quickly spot any gaps. The right software will track when devices are entering the network, their assigned facility, and which users are accessing it. When you have all of this data in front of you, you can quickly identify gaps in the inventory and patch them when necessary.
2. Automate Whenever Possible
Healthcare facilities are often short on time and might not always have an IT team on-site. Automation can be a useful tool when if you’re shorthanded. An automated system allows connected medical devices to be instantly logged within your inventory. Healthcare staff won’t need to be as hands-on in this process, and the entire system can enjoy another layer of security. It’s then up to the IT department to monitor the network for potential vulnerabilities.
3. Run Frequent Audits
That brings up the next essential component of the healthcare inventory: the ability to monitor this network of medical devices, staff computers, and other equipment can help spot potential vulnerabilities before they become an issue. Live monitoring of medical cybersecurity will help protect patient data and other sensitive information. It will also keep the entire system online, which is essential to patient health. Depending on the IT software you have in place, this could involve consistent audits of the system and/or real-time alerts regarding inventory.
4. Update the Technology
It can be tricky for healthcare facilities to remember to update their cybersecurity technology with so much on their plate. However, outdated technology can leave networks vulnerable, as cyber attack perpetrators make their techniques more advanced. The same goes for weak user passwords and stale accounts. Updated technology and user accounts can make your connected medical security more effective. Run updates within your existing software and purchase new software when appropriate, keeping the entire system up to industry standards.
5. Educate Employees
A recent study found that 82% of breaches involved the human element. So even if you have the best inventory system in place, your employees need to understand their role in the healthcare organization’s cybersecurity. Make sure that your employees know where the potential vulnerabilities could be within the system and what the response would look like in the event of an attack. These employees might not work in IT directly, but their role could be critical in maintaining medical device security.
If you’re interested in learning more about network-connected medical device security, the team at Fortified Health Security is here to help. Their connected medical device and IoT security program offer tailored cybersecurity solutions for your organization, so you can stay ahead of attacks and protect patient data.
Fortified also held an education session, “How to Build a Medical Device Security Program,” with Tamra Durfee as the speaker. The talk has been shared at HIMSS’22 and can be watched on-demand here.