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Improving security and software management of connected hospital digital devices

November 18, 2010 // Julien Happich

Improving security and software management of connected hospital digital devices

Emerson Network Power announced a proof-of-concept, based upon the Intel Core i7 processor and Altiris Client Management Suite from Symantec, that demonstrates how hospital IT professionals can secure and administer embedded medical devices centrally in the same way as PCs and servers.

As healthcare providers digitize their medical records, and integrate clinical systems and diagnostic data, opportunities are emerging to simultaneously reduce cost, redundancy, administrative burden and medical errors, all while increasing the quality of care. The drive towards the "Connected Hospital" concept spans patient administration, health monitoring and care, imaging and diagnostics, and records management. However, network vulnerabilities expose a hospital to the risk of breaching patient confidentiality, of impairing patient care due to non-availability of data, and of attack by cybercriminals.

Hospital IT professionals have proven procedures for centrally administering the protection and security of network-attached enterprise computing equipment such as PCs, servers and laptops. But many embedded digital devices used in hospitals today cannot be controlled or secured in the same way. The Emerson Network Power proof-of-concept demonstrates a unified approach for bringing advanced remote management features and enhanced security to healthcare computing platforms.

The new proof-of-concept has been implemented as both an automated medication dispensing system called MedDispense and a wireless mobile workstation - both from Metro, an Emerson company. The technology behind this proof-of-concept can easily be replicated in other Connected Hospital applications such as a medical delivery cart or a mobile diagnostic system.

At its heart is the Matxm-core-411-B from Emerson Network Power, a MicroATX format motherboard based on the Intel Core i7 processor. The system runs Altiris Client Management Suite from Symantec, a systems management solution that helps provision, manage, and support client based systems. The proof-of-concept also demonstrates how the Symantec technology provides a familiar user interface for the Intel Active Management Technology (Intel AMT) feature that the Intel Core i7 processor provides. This enables the IT administrator to remotely connect to, troubleshoot and restart a device on the network even if its operating system has crashed, its hard drive has failed, it is in Sleep mode or software agents have malfunctioned. This feature only operates in client devices that contain an Intel processor with Intel AMT features enabled.

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