Category Archive: Healthcare / Life Sciences

Extending Security and Reliability: Excellence in Medical Device Support Blends Remote and Onsite Strategies

Proactive Service Demands Real-time Insight Into Medical Device Performance, Balances Costs and Risk

Keeping healthcare systems in the field as long as possible is an exceptional demand for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Support strategies can play a critical role, recognizing security as a primary design requirement for connected devices. These concerns must be considered at the earliest stages of development rather than ‘bolted’ on later — which requires the understanding of implementation logistics and goals for achieving the right level of security – acceptable to the manufacturer as well as the device’s operational setting.

Security features can also be built into the software image, allowing systems to be online and less susceptible to security breaches. Early discussions, in advance of the software image being designed, can allow for a greater understanding of security features that may help the system achieve a higher threshold of protection while maintaining connectivity.

Use case: Early planning improves reliability and addresses security with a smart blend of remote and onsite support

One OEM of medical device equipment recognized a key support issue with its systems being returned noted as “no issue found.” Diagnosis was failing because the system was being removed from its environment and the repair depot could not replicate the problem. Remote options added great value here, as the manufacturer’s systems didn’t need to be removed from the field and could be diagnosed in their functional environment.

For this OEM, remote monitoring required connectivity, empowering the system operator with real-time insight on performance issues and system health. This facilitates proactive service, preventing failures before they happen – as well as highly focused service, tapping into better data to reduce costs for unnecessary service calls. Software updates can be handled remotely as well, eliminating the need for service techs to apply patches onsite using physical devices such as USB keys – for a significant cost savings.

At the same time, connectivity flies in the face of security concerns, potentially increasing vulnerability and risk that healthcare providers are keen to reduce and avoid. OEMs must base consideration of the preferred option on costs, comfort level and requirements of the deployment setting – as well as the likelihood of risk. For example, this OEM considered a hospital environment with a number of different infrastructure layers to navigate. In these types of scenarios, policies must be followed even as they vary from facility to facility. In some cases, security protocols may not even allow an IoT-enabled system to function as a connected device; early discussion of these risks and limitations is critical to a balanced and successful support strategy.

Prioritizing lifecycle for a healthy competitive edge

Reliable, long-term performance is crucial in medical equipment design. Nothing is more important to patients than acquiring reliable access to lifesaving treatment. And nothing is more powerful in establishing OEM leadership than creating a reputation for longevity of system performance. For greater insight on how Dedicated Computing is enabling the competitive vision and strategy of global healthcare OEMs, request a meeting with an engineer here.

Medical Device Vulnerabilities and Tomorrow’s Security Threats

In an era where unprecedented data breaches are affecting corporate and government entities, the devices used in hospitals and other medical settings represent an often overlooked, yet vital source of vulnerability. For years, security researchers have cautioned the healthcare industry about their exposed medical devices.

Too often these devices are internet-capable or networked internally without encryption technology, cloud computing safeguards, or even password protection. This makes them an easy target for hackers who have the ability to steal data, disable medical devices responsible for providing life-saving care, or launch a widespread cyber attack that can affect every device on a particular network.

The Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines in 2014 covering medical devices in the market. These guidelines stated that all such devices should be secure, be able to easily update to correct any flaws, and have safeguards in place to protect care in the event the device is hacked or otherwise compromised. The guidelines also mandated that, ideally, medical devices should include the ability to be updated and be accompanied by a list of software components that would allow hospitals to check the device for any vulnerabilities.

A Constant Threat

Infusion pumps make up almost half of all medical devices, according to the Zingbox 2018 Threat Report, making them the largest potential source of attack for cyber-related threats. Currently the industry standard is to segment these types of devices, which limits any potential cyber intrusions to an individual device. Yet, this practice also makes it more difficult to provide widespread automatic security updates to such devices.

The individual operators and medical personnel themselves leave another unyielding source of vulnerability. The above study discovered that the most common security risks originated from user practice issues, which included using web browsers on medical workstations for personal online browsing, chatting, and downloading content.

The Way Forward

The FDA offers a series of recommendations to prevent and otherwise fortify medical devices against the life threatening and/or privacy violating compromises that can result from a targeted attack. These include preemptive mitigation of cybersecurity risks early before they can be taken advantage of by hackers, as well as adopting a coordinated vulnerability disclosure policy and practice. They also encourage healthcare providers to put policies and procedures in place that will enable them to understand and evaluate risks, and discover any vulnerabilities in equipment or software.

According to the guidelines, healthcare providers must also have a plan in place to not only mitigate threats, but to respond and recover quickly and efficiently to limit patient risk. IT personnel in healthcare must be empowered to locate and neutralize cybersecurity threats, which means they must have established procedures in place for discovery and elimination of vulnerabilities.

Finally, it is always incumbent upon those managing healthcare IT systems to apply the five core principles put forth in the 2014 NIST voluntary Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity:

  1. Identify
  2. Protect
  3. Detect
  4. Respond
  5. Recover

Cybersecurity for IoT and Beyond

The burden on the industry to protect medical devices is great. Those who produce and utilize medical devices need IoT development partners who will work with them through the life of their devices, rather than supplying a basic framework before abandoning them to configure and manage the updates and security threats or breaches that occur on their own.

Contact Dedicated Computing today to learn more about the cloud computing solutions that will keep your systems current and free of vulnerabilities to threats.

Enhanced Computing for Genome Sequencing Solutions

The systems and solutions we build here at Dedicated Computing enable our customers’ products; including highly scientific research and discovery instruments manufactured by leading OEMs in the life sciences industry. We work intimately with our customers to integrate the technology and connectivity solutions needed to drive today’s most exciting innovations.

Dedicated Computing’s integrated software and hardware platforms are crafted to meet particular performance and computational needs.

What is Genome Sequencing?

Complete genome sequencing, also referred to as entire genome sequencing or whole genome sequencing, is an essential tool in modern microbiology. The genome sequencing process determines an organism’s complete genome in a single operation, breaking down the entire DNA sequence.

Enhancing cancer diagnostics, decoding disease and drug functions, and even identifying the origins of epidemics in real time, genome sequencing has allowed medical professionals to pinpoint crucial medical details and improve healing and treatment options.

Genome Sequencing Technology and Integrated System Requirements

As the genome sequencing market makes its way into diagnostic and clinical laboratories on a large scale, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are developing the tools necessary to make this level of processing possible.

Generating and analyzing such vast quantities of information necessitate a range of sophisticated capabilities, including:

  • Computing power and performance that can manage high data acquisition rates with the potential to add storage and reduce sequencing runtimes as needed
  • Fast, efficient operations for quick time to market
  • Improved reliability with proactive monitoring to prevent and correct failures, allowing for reduced downtime
  • Minimized software stack vulnerability for fewer security threats

Assembling Custom Systems for Sequencing Technology

Powering the advanced applications of today’s genome sequencing market requires complex, customizable systems. Every element of this technology must be designed to meet the needs of high-volume data processing and analyzing, management, sequencing, and resequencing, with maximized efficiency and minimal operational risk of system downtime.

Below are some of the key components used in such integrated setups.

  • Control processing, allowing for high productivity, increased cycle rates, and the ability to provide quick, precise performance
  • Data/image processing, for converting raw data into accessible, meaningful information. For instance, data sets and sophisticated image libraries may be used in real-time to guide surgical procedures, maintain quality control, or batch-process materials
  • Data storage solutions, to control a higher quantity of information than has ever been handled by previous technologies, and at higher risk; effective data storage solutions must stand up to cybersecurity standards, disaster recovery requirements, strict regulatory compliances, and much more
  • Planning and viewing tools, allowing for integrated systems with camera interface cards, frame grabbers, digital I/O modules, and advanced color processing for increased accuracy and reliable performance in monitoring, measuring and evaluation, and data analysis

Enhanced Genome Sequencing Solutions From Dedicated Computing

Every custom system from Dedicated Computing is built upon our years of experience in the health care diagnostics industry. With computing expertise in acquisition products, network area storage, secondary/tertiary clusters, and much more, our team can provide a reliable solution for your exact needs.

To learn more about our services and support for enhanced genome sequencing solutions, or to request a quote for your specific application, reach out to the team today.

Precision Medicine Speeds Ahead with High Performance Computing Clusters

Originally published, April 30, 2018, from Embedded Intel® Solutions

In genomics, huge data files are generated, which are then broken down into thousands of smaller fragments for effective analytics. Today this kind of precision medicine is advancing because clinicians can access and interpret these data files—patient information in the form of genetic sequences—faster than ever. This is High Performance Computing (HPC) cluster technology at work, delivering remarkable benefits for individual patients and helping advance the field of genomics decades faster than originally anticipated. Where precision medicine was thought to have global impact by 2050, the new target is 2020. ‘One size fits all’ is no longer the standard of care, and HPC technology is poised to deliver higher value at lower costs in the widest range of research and treatment environments.

Tapping into Big Data Faster

It once took weeks to benefit from healthcare data—collaborating and sharing data from labs, medical records, pharmacies, insurance companies, and specialists, and then turning that information into well-informed treatment plans. HPC cluster architecture has cut this timeline down to a matter of hours. As exciting as that is, the real value is that this scalable, standards-based technology is accessible to hospitals, clinics, and labs of all sizes and resources, instead of just government labs and super-computing environments. On a global basis, the spectrum of healthcare innovators can tap into HPC to increase the value of data while significantly lowering their costs. Reactions to treatments are faster and more responsive, saving lives in all types of treatment settings.

To read the full article, visit the original published article here.

Tapping Into Big Data in a Single Day

Faster Data Analysis Creates Meaningful Results in Precision Medicine

Data drives healthcare, and care improves when accurate, timely information is shared effectively. That is essentially the guiding principle of genomics, which creates highly personalized treatment plans based on an individual’s genetic makeup. Fast data analysis is making a difference here, with technology at the heart of ambitious goals like improving outcomes and reducing the long-term cost of care for a worldwide population.

It once took weeks to benefit from healthcare data – collaborating and sharing data from labs, medical records, pharmacies, insurance companies and specialists, and then turning that information into well informed treatment plans. Now, HPC (High Performance Computing) cluster architecture is enabling processing to be done in hours. Once only available to government labs and super-computing environments, this scalable, standards-based technology is accessible to hospitals, clinics, and labs of all sizes and resources. On a global basis, healthcare innovators can tap into HPC to increase the value of data while significantly lowering their costs. Reactions to treatments are faster and more responsive, saving lives in all types of treatment settings.

The real-world result is that a child in treatment for cancer can have genomic sequencing done in four hours instead of seven weeks. Sequencing can even be done multiple times during treatment, monitoring the patient for drug resistance or relapse and allowing for flexibility and speed in adjusting treatment. Ineffective treatments can be quickly modified, minimizing unintended damage to patient health, and accelerating the search for treatments that deliver the most positive results.

In addition to delivering remarkable benefits for individual patients, HPC is driving the genomics industry forward quickly. The field is advancing decades faster than originally anticipated. Where precision medicine was thought to have global impact by 2050, the new target is 2020. The ‘one size fits all’ standard of care is no more, and HPC technology is poised to deliver higher value at lower costs in the widest range of research and treatment environments.

Click Here to Connect with the team at Dedicated Computing for more insight on HPC clusters, including deployments in various research and treatment settings. As your design, development, and deployment partner, we’re problem-solvers by nature and will continue to share insight on HPC technology in blogs to follow. Any thoughts or questions you would like to see addressed? Just leave them in the comments below. Also, download our white paper, “Accelerating Precision Medicine with High Performance Computing Clusters,” detailing how and why cluster computing is making a difference in life sciences.

The A8202 System Extends Windows® 7 Support for the Healthcare Market

Waukesha, WI (June 29, 2017) – Dedicated Computing has announced the availability of the A8202 system for the global healthcare market. Designed for control processing and data/image processing, the A8202 system supports the Windows® 7 embedded operating system until 2020. This provides companies with ample lead-time to fully transition their applications to Windows® 10 IoT.

“Dedicated Computing designs systems that integrate hardware and software to meet the security, performance and space requirements of our customers in the healthcare market,” said Jeff Durst, Director of Product Management and Solutions Architect at Dedicated Computing. “The A8202 is built on our expertise in tailoring solutions for customers – it will be deployed in multiple applications that need to support Windows® 7 while enabling a future of Windows® 10 IoT.”

The A8202 system offers flexible options such as spinning or solid state storage, as well as desktop, mini-tower or rackmount orientations. Additionally, the A8202 system is preconfigured with a system service for Windows® or Linux that presents a RESTful Application Programming Interface (API) to allow monitoring capabilities.

The A8202 can be configured with 6th generation Intel® processors that support Windows 7 embedded, or integrate the latest technology: 7th Generation Intel® Core® processors. With either Intel processor, customers get the performance they need in a system that provides the reliability and data integrity that is critical for their application.

About Dedicated Computing
Dedicated Computing is an original design manufacturer (ODM) of proprietary, highly-engineered computing systems for global customers in Healthcare, Life Sciences, Training & Simulation and Industrial markets.
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