October 20, 2014

What Qualifies as a Medical Device?

The rules have changed, is your hospital secure?

Does anyone remember the old Motorola razor phone? If you had that phone you were the cool kid on the block. At that time no one could fathom building a phone that could be more technologically advanced, more sleek and sexy than that phone was. Boy, were we wrong!

On June 29, 2007 the world changed forever. The introduction of the first iPhone changed the way the world viewed mobile technology. Suddenly, the possibilities as to what the average consumer could do with technology were limitless. Seven years later it is 2014 and we have begun to see hospitals and healthcare providers shift to a mobile point of care. Clinicians are now utilizing mobile technology to treat, educate and set follow-up appointments with patients. Not only can patients access information about their health, but they can meet with physicians via video over their mobile network. This is becoming increasingly important for regions where people may be hundreds of miles from a local doctor or hospital. In health care today, mobile devices can act as lifesaving tools.

While cell phones and other mobile devices, such as PCs and tablets, can serve as a source of medical information or as a virtual meeting place between a doctor and patient, the technology itself can play a more important role to improve health care in developing regions as an actual medical device. For example, hospitals have begun using portable lightweight microscopes that affix to the mobile phones, which transforms them into a platform for conducting a microanalysis for blood, bodily fluids and water samples.

In addition, hospitals have begun to pair a variety of different technologies with mobile phones. Soon your phone will be able to serve as a mobile blood pressure monitoring system, portable ultrasound, ophthalmic slit lamp, otoscope, glucometer and more.

All of this change begs the question; will expanding our use of mobile phones create breaches in data or tax the network to the point that packets are pushed like drops from a leaky faucet? By having these devices in the clinicians hands at all times are we increasing the risk of negligence?

The truth is that with any new technology implementation, the hospital opens itself up to a possible security breach. Sometimes being the first to adopt a new technology that has only been tested in a lab environment burns the early adopters of technology. To a certain extent this is inevitable. However, there are ways to control this technology and mitigate the security challenges so that these devices can keep on improving patient care.

Interested in learning more? Connect with me on LinkedIn and qualify to receive a free copy of the critically acclaimed book “Wi-Fi Enabled Healthcare”.

About The Contributor:
Charles DowdAE Healthcare specialist

Charles Dowd is a Healthcare specialist at Extreme Networks, focused on new business development. Charles seeks out opportunities to introduce Extreme Networks to Hospitals in need of unmatched visibility and control to secure medical devices on their network. He immerses himself in everything involving Healthcare, HealthIT, and mHealth.

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