One of the largest hospitals in the West Midlands with one of the busiest Emergency Departments in the country has signed up to an innovative new security system to improve patient safety.
Bosses at the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, which runs the Royal Stoke University Hospital, in Stoke-on-Trent, and the County Hospital, in Stafford, say the new security measures will improve safety and bring peace of mind for staff and patients, by reducing the impact of a cyber-attack.
The Trust has linked up with M8 Solutions to have the Ordr Systems Control Engine implemented. It means that all hospital equipment, medical and non-medical, connected to the Trust’s network can be protected and monitored under one umbrella system, which can detect any abnormal activity.
Mark Bostock, information management and technology director at the UHNM Trust, said: “This is a huge step forward in our cyber security capabilities. These are positive steps to give us a level of assurance that our hospitals are as safe as possible for our UHNM team and our patients.”
Dr Zia Din, the Trust’s chief clinical information officer, added: “Saving time for staff and reassuring patients that they and their information are safe is always a priority for us.
“This system is invaluable, allowing our staff to care for our patients safe in the knowledge that cyber security is being taken care of. It is reassuring that we are less likely to have disruption to our systems necessary for delivery of patient care.”
M8 Solutions co-founder and lead consultant Tracy Scriven said dealing with cyber-security is an ever-changing challenge, made more complicated with the increasing number of devices being linked to networks.
Tracy, who has worked with UHNM previously, said a cyber-attack can affect hospitals and GP surgeries, with devastating effect, resulting in cancelled appointments and operations.
“When you compare the risk of fire or flood or disaster, those risks are quantifiable,” she said. “It is easy to understand the causes, how to deal with them and the extent of the damage they can cause. Cyber is not like that; it is constantly changing, and you have no idea how big, small, or sinister the risk might be.
“The increasing number of medical devices in a hospital which are connected to the network present an ever-growing risk. Non-medical devices like CCTV cameras are also connected. This is known as the Internet of Things, or IoT. IoT Security is increasingly complex – and NHS trusts need to be able to discover, secure and monitor the IoT devices that are connected to their networks.
“For example, when installed, the camera is connected to the trust network. There is a risk that someone could hack into the cameras and the wider network – there have been examples of this happening in other places around the world.”
She said the Ordr system had improved patient safety in many ways.
“The deployment of the Ordr system helps protect the hospital infrastructure from breaches of cyber security which could result in patient information being stolen and/or medical equipment being unavailable due to cyber-attack, ” she said.
“In addition, it can help save time by providing accurate information on what equipment is where on the network. It also helps staff by ensuring that any vulnerability is highlighted in a single dashboard and saves time by automating the mitigation of a cyber-attack. Another benefit that indirectly aids patient care – through saving the hospital money – is the medical device utilisation functionality. This enables the hospital to save money by not having to invest in equipment when it is not needed by utilising under-deployed assets. This feature helps to ensure patient access to medical equipment is available as much as possible.”
Paul Hinchy, Tracy’s fellow M8 Solutions co-founder and lead consultant, added: “Medical devices such as blood infusion pumps, MRI scanners, ultrasound machines as well as estates and facilities devices are great examples of existing critical areas of the day-to-day running of any hospital, that can now be further protected and more efficient.
“Ordr is helping secure the Trust’s network and previous vulnerabilities have been highlighted and remedied. This positively impacts all areas of the hospital as each and every device is now understood.
“It saves time by identifying vulnerable devices; creating a register of assets and giving managers an overview of the devices and their status.”
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