One of the most serious issues facing medical device manufacturers today is how to balance security and functionality within the limited capacity of a portable power source. During a recent trip to the Medical Device & Manufacturing (MD&M) West conference, I attended several seminars that addressed the specific challenges involved with wireless devices, mobile medical apps and power source technologies.
A phenomenon dubbed, “the consumerization of healthcare” has tasked manufacturers with creating medical devices that function alongside patients’ smartphones and tablets. They want a device to perform its healthcare function and also communicate relevant information to medical professionals in a timely manner. Once the information has been shared with a patient’s nurse or doctor, the latest technologies now allow for real-time device adjustments from miles away.
These advancements do not come without risk. In September 2012, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) start considering the realistic security risks involved with wireless medical devices. This recommendation was made following two demonstrations in which high profile hacker, Barnaby Jack, delivered a deadly volt to a pacemaker and dispensed more than a week’s worth of insulin in a single dose from a wireless pump.
Aside from the risk to a patient’s physical well being, hackers can also access a range of personal information, including financial and health records. According to FDA, it did not consider information security risks from intentional threats to medical devices as a realistic possibility until recently.
While data encryption is the best line of defense against these security risks, such encryption requires an increase in mobile power to function consistently against a sophisticated hacker. In many devices currently on the market, limited battery capacity can hinder the security features, making them susceptible to an attack that would drain the battery and render the device inoperable. Performance failures may mean the loss of a patient or the deterioration of their health.
With so much at stake, it is imperative that medical device manufacturers collaborate with battery pack integrators to create a high quality, reliable battery pack that services both function and security in the most power-saving manner possible. Many of the world’s leading medical OEMs and contract manufacturers partner with Palladium Energy. We have a nearly 40-year track record of providing safe, high-reliability battery packs for healthcare and other mission-critical businesses. Through our independent and accredited test lab, IQ Laboratories, we can design, test, and certify each battery pack to the most stringent of medical industry standards.
- Dennis Pouliot, global account manager