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Wired for Safety

September 25, 2008
by Kate Huvane
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When reports say that IT intended to heal may actually harm, what's a CIO to do?

Perhaps most importantly, CIOs need to judge what type of situation requires a yellow flag — meaning an implementation continues while the technology is closely monitored — and what type of situation merits red. Even the most wired hospitals can experience difficulties or fall victim to an incident such as interference, and in these cases, it's important to have a plan. Says Spectrum's O'Hare, “We have various practices now where if we think we're under a certain level of threat that puts an implementation at risk, we take action and mitigate those risks, including, if necessary, cutting ourselves off.”

While these types of incidents are rare, they do exist, and it's much better to be ready than to attempt to devise a response on the fly. “We haven't had to do this in years, but if we perceived a particular threat, we'd bring down our connections if we needed to,” says O'Hare.

A wake-up call for the industry

While the findings from the JAMA study have prompted important discussions from both vendors and hospital executives, one group Turisco wants to see more response from is industry associations.

According to Turisco, the Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility (AIM Global, Warrendale, Pa.) has issued a call to arms to the vendors encouraging them to collaborate with industry associations to devise better methods of testing. This, she says, could go a long way in providing hospital executives with some piece of mind. But while the statements issued by AIM Global and other associations are certainly a step in the right direction, she wants to see less talking and more action.

“They need to take it up a notch,” says Turisco. “There has to be an industry-wide response to this, as opposed to letting individual hospitals figure it out. These results raise important questions that need to be answered.”

Healthcare Informatics 2008 October;25(10):30-36


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