The Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Prof. Amos Katz, warns that life-saving cardiology devices are currently exposed to various types of cyberattacks and manipulation by hackers.
According to him, there are wireless electronic devices that are vulnerable to life-threatening manipulation such as insulin delivery devices for people with diabetes, pacemakers - which not only pay a role in controlling the heart rate, but also in monitoring and transmission of data, making them vulnerable to being tracked for location and the transfer of information about patients and their environment.
Prof. Katz said, "All wireless medical devices are actually potential transmitters and receivers, which connect easily to the Internet and are therefore vulnerable to manipulation by hackers. An article was recently published about former US Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a pacemaker that was the target of hacking by various groups..."
Prof. Katz conveyed this message at the 1st Global Workshop on Cyber Security in Future Healthcare. The workshop, a collaborative effort by Ben-Gurion University, Soroka University Medical Center and CyberSpark, brought experts and a leaders in the health, cyber security, regulators, researchers and investors.
Through discussion, ideas, thoughts and challenges regarding cybersecurity in healthcare in the coming years were raised. The workshop was held at Ben-Gurion University's Faculty of Health Sciences, Soroka University Medical Center and Gav-Yam Negev Advanced Technologies Park.
The participants in the workshop included Prof. Leonid Eidelman, Chairman of the Israel Medical Association; Dr. Ehud Davidson, Director of Soroka University Medical Center; Prof. Rafi Beyar, Director General of Rambam Health Care Campus; Prof. Amos Katz, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ben-Gurion University; Prof. Arnon Afek, Medical Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Health.
Healthcare and medicine are fields that are expected to change dramatically in the coming years, starting with routine treatments for diseases, hospitalization, practitioner-patient interface and extending to management and use of medical databases.
Roni Zehavi, CEO of CyberSpark - one of the organizers of the Workshop, said that several key questions are already on the agenda, for example, regarding management of healthcare data: Who owns the medical information? What institution handles it? Where is this information and where is it stored? Who has access to it? Who protects it? "In fact, every aspect of medicine has a cyber connection. Not only when it comes to data management, but in all areas of medical devices; this is not science fiction - these are challenges the world is already facing, and the healthcare industry must be aware of them, become familiar with them and be prepared. Our job at CyberSpark is to identify the places and areas of life in which cyber is relevant and to develop them. And today, we are taking an important tentative step into the cyber and healthcare world, which we believe will give rise to a practical, professional, scientific and business community that will strive towards tomorrow's solutions. What is clear is that without a comprehensive and active cyberdefense umbrella for all future of aspects of medicine, health and pharmaceutical production, this futuristic vision cannot become a reality."
At the Workshop, Dr. Ehud Davidson, Director of Soroka Medical Center, presented issues related to "smart hospitals." As a leading Israeli medical center, Soroka is not only committed to the quality of medical treatment and patient safety, but also to the values of service and innovation. "Many systems developed at Soroka by the IT and IS Unit improve the work environment for the staff and enhance the level of service to patients, which ensuring data security."
Some of the digital services presented by Dr. Davidson demonstrated how Soroka is a smart hospital:
Text message service to ER patients -
As part of the ongoing effort to improve service and the transparency of the process, the ER at Soroka launched a text message service that provides patients with updates. The system integrates several sources from the various IT systems and retrieves data in order to update patients directly to their cellphones throughout the phases of their treatment and when waiting in the Emergency Room.
Soroka App: Everything on your cellphone
Soroka is the first hospital in Israel to launch a new and innovative application for the benefit of the public. It includes various fields of health content along with essential and useful information for patients.
The application is based on an advanced content management system and includes information channels and innovative services.
Working in real time
Through the use of the electronic medical records system, a great deal of data is collected regarding the patients and inpatients at the medical center. The development team developed a set of tools that enables the system to push data in real time to the relevant parties, in order to improve the quality and safety of the treatment provided. This facilitates, for example, timely control of pain prevention treatment in the amount of time determined, tracking the threat of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), smart management of broad-spectrum antibiotics, hip fracture surgery for patients over the age of 65 within 48 hours, and more.
The data are sent securely directly to the smartphones and e-mails of the relevant professionals and department directors.
Consulting in the field
The diverse patient population in the hospital frequently requires the involvement of professional consultants in a variety of fields. To this end, a system was developed based on real-time information from the medical record, which sends a pop-up message to a consultant, informing them that they are needed for a consult.
As part of the Workshop, round table sessions were held on several topics.
At Soroka, a round table was held on the subject of smart hospitals. It was facilitated by Dr. Gal Ifergan, Director of the Department of Neurology and Deputy Director of the hospital. Other subjects discussed in this forum included:
1. Hospitals have become smarter. It is possible to collect a great deal of information about the patient, their diseases, the processes they are undergoing as well as information related to logistics and operations.
2. This data is used for improvement, streamlining and patient safety. Maximum integration of the data is required to understand medical processes and environments.
3. It is important to improve the IT systems to strengthen the connection to the patient and improve the hospitalization experience.
4. The "worst nightmares" of hospital administrations were discussed. Although ensuring a patient's privacy is important and significant resources are invested in this regard, the true risks are when the IT systems fail or when the credibility of the information is harmed.
5. A targeted external attack can paralyze the activity of a hospital's IT systems and even harm the credibility of the data.
6. Hospitals must prepare plans for operations should the IT systems fail so that they can continue to work without them.
7. Protection of the system depends on intelligence regarding potential threats that can only be collected at the governmental level.