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How Can Patients Protect Their Medical Devices from Hackers?

FDA and manufacturers shoulder most of the cybersecurity burden, but should patients and caregivers also play a role?

Cybersecurity in healthcare is a shared responsibility, and now FDA is offering advice on the subject for patients and caregivers.

We already know that cybersecurity is one of the biggest issues keeping medtech manufacturers awake at night, and we've seen plenty of situations arise that remind us why cybersecurity threats in medtech are really scary. But what can patients do to protect themselves from medical device-related cybersecruity threats?

FDA shared the following tips for patients and caregivers to play a role in medical device cybersecurity:

  • Technology evolves over time, so the software will need to be updated. Recognize the value of applying those updates and talk with your healthcare provider if you have questions about them.
  • Register your device with the manufacturer. It is an extra step, but it may help the manufacturer reach you more quickly to send you important information.
  • Be observant and vigilant. If you think your device is not functioning as it should, do not ignore it. Discuss it with your healthcare provider. Notify the device manufacturer and report it to the FDA's MedWatch.
  • Involve your family or caregivers. Educate them about your device or enlist their help if you are not tech savvy.
  • If there is a serious event, seek medical attention.

FDA has issued 9 cybersecurity communications since 2013, three of which were issued in 2019. These messages contain information about the vulnerability and recommended actions patients, providers and manufacturers can take.

In February, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) wrote to various healthcare stakeholders, including AdvaMed, to seek input on ways to improve cybersecurity in the healthcare industry. In its response, AdvaMed highlighted the five principles the organization's board has adopted for helping to ensure medical device-related cybersecurity threats are addressed in a meaningful way. Click here to see our infographic of these five cybersecurity principals.

 

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