Are Your Imaging Devices a Cybersecurity Risk?

83% of medical imaging devices lack a supported operating system, putting them at risk of being attacked and having their data exploited

Now that Windows 7 has reached end of life, more imaging devices are left with an outdated operating system, exposing potential vulnerabilities in a health facility’s network per the article above. Reading this made me realize that our clients’ networks may be at risk when they don’t even know it. We’ve worked with clients whose equipment still runs on Windows XP or older, and while it may work fine for patient use, it raises concerns about cybersecurity.

With everything from pacemakers to fixed imaging systems connected to one network, it can be easy to overlook items that store patient data and leave weak spots that give access to other connected devices such as the EMR system. What this means for you is that it might be time to assess and evaluate your equipment to proactively protect your network. For each medical device that has an operating system (OS), you should ask:

  • Is this device’s OS up to date? If not, is there an upgrade?
  • Should you use funds to upgrade OS or invest in a newer device?

Age, condition, and fair market value can help in decisions for allocating funds. Once you understand how much your equipment is worth, you can weight the costs of selling and replacing versus upgrading the current system. It is important to keep track of these assets through biomed, IT, etc. so they can be checked for patches that become available in the future. Keeping an updated inventory of equipment and their condition will also help to inform when your equipment needs replaced in order to maintain a secure network.

Even if you’re not in an IT department, you can still have control over the medical devices you use and their connections to the network as a whole. We here at MRG provide assessment, inventory, and resale services to assist you through each step of the equipment lifecycle and empower you in improving network security.

Physician Groups are Leading the Way in M&A Strategy

Leading providers of primary and specialty care are expanding their business model by coming together as physician-owned groups. There’s been a consistent trend of healthcare moving to outpatient facilities, both for greater reimbursement rates and more focused patient care, and physician groups are cashing in on this trend while also providing better service for patients. Their mergers and acquisitions (M&A) model has shown an improvement in quality with direct physician-patient relationships eliminating most of the administrative burden in between. Lowered administrative costs for smaller practices means reduced prices for patients, which keeps them coming back for all their healthcare needs.

Through our inventory and assessment work for M&A, we’ve also seen a trend of physicians being acquired by large health systems rather than remaining in private practice, mostly for financial stability. The surge in physician group acquisitions and impressive clinical results makes joining one of these groups a viable third option. Their strength in numbers allows them to build business relationships with local hospitals and health systems. This ends up being the perfect middle ground that gives practices more hospital privileges, stronger financial and clinical resources, and maintained freedom for physicians as business owners. Along with timesharing and other non-traditional partnerships, physicians have more options than ever to find a consolidating strategy that best suits their practice’s interests.

Recent M&A activity shows the decline of the megamerger and an increase in acquisitions of smaller value, meaning physician practices are a prime target for both hospital-owned and physician-owned entities. With more physician groups growing in scale, there is evidence that the M&A landscape is changing to address physician autonomy and putting the patient first, rather than solely focusing on market gain. These groups are pinpointing this intersection and truly actualizing value-based care.

Read more about an Ohio physician-owned group’s strategy for success: