Abbott’s Robert Ford: Key Takeaways from Cybersecurity, Medical Devices Panel

Ford, EVP of Medical Devices, participated in a Bipartisan Policy Center panel, which highlighted "the need for an industry-wide solution to strengthen medical device cybersecurity."

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(Originally published on LinkedIn)

Robert Ford

I recently participated in an energetic and stimulating discussion of medical device cybersecurity with a distinguished group of panelists representing cybersecurity experts, physicians and the medical device industry at a Bipartisan Policy Center event. The conversation underscored the immense benefits that these devices provide patients and physicians, while highlighting the need for an industry-wide solution to strengthen medical device cybersecurity.

The foundation of our discussion was a white paper written by The Chertoff Group, in partnership with Abbott, titled “Why Medical Device Manufacturers Must Lead on Cybersecurity in an Increasingly Connected Healthcare System. The paper proposes increased information sharing and standards development as two solutions to help the connected medical device industry tackle ever-evolving cyber threats. Both of these strategies have been successfully utilized by other industries, such as financial services and defense, and would be beneficial initiatives to bring to the healthcare industry.

I enjoyed the opportunity to hear from the diverse voices on the panel and was left with the following key takeaways:

  • Connected medical devices provide patients and physicians with invaluable information to better manage conditions, which improves outcomes and reduces the overall cost of care.
  • Any connected medical device faces cybersecurity risks. The industry must work together with regulators, cyber experts and other stakeholders to address these issues.
  • Because cyber risks can evolve quickly, it is essential to both tackle cyber threats today and also be vigilant and able to respond quickly to potential cyber threats of tomorrow.

I want to thank my fellow panelists—Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; Michael Morell, former Acting and Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Dr. Leslie Saxon, Chief of USC’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine; and William Murray, President and CEO of the Medical Device Innovation Consortium—for such an engaging conversation.

I look forward to working with my colleagues across the healthcare industry to strengthen our defenses against cyber threats, while enhancing the care that we provide patients.  

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