A biomed with 3 decades of experience under his belt, Scot Copeland several years ago looked into the future and saw what would happen with the integration of medical equipment into information systems. That insight compelled him to go back to school and earn a degree in IT security. It’s the same insight that the clinical systems specialist at Scripps Health, San Diego, will share with attendees at his presentation at the upcoming AAMI conference.

Copeland told 24×7 that while his talk on “Information Security Management for Medical Devices” still centers on device security, it has evolved since he first proposed it to AAMI. Now, he says, he will be stressing the importance of medical device interoperability, and of creating a “culture of interoperability” that encompasses patients as well as the healthcare facility and its staff.

“We need devices and systems that can help with patient accountability in the non-hospital environment,” he explains. “Patient care is being driven out of the hospitals, to where they are not getting 24-hour supervision. Patients are going to have to learn how to be responsible and accountable for their own health care.” To deal effectively with this change, he says, “we need to build a network culture for patient accountability,” which in turn means building a culture of interoperability.

Interoperability is integral to security, he says, because “there aren’t any common network protocols or standards” being applied to medical devices. In enterprise networking, he says, IT specialists “can keep their devices and peripherals secured because they all run on the same operating system, and they can run security programs and policies across them all.”

For medical equipment, the picture is very different. “We’re putting together different manufacturers, different operating systems, even different vintages of devices, and we don’t have anything that’s standard. That’s our problem.”

Beyond bringing his message to AAMI, Copeland is readying a more ambitious effort to bring about a culture of interoperability. At his presentation, he says, he will announce the availability of a new “incubator” app to help build industry consensus on interoperability. Created with the assistance of software developer Awareness Communication Technology LLC, the app will be available to anyone interested in interoperability. He hopes that the app will help generate discussion and ideas about how to bring about an ecosystem of devices that are safe and interoperable.

The session will take place at the AAMI Conference & Expo on June 1, from 2:30 to 3:45 pm. For more information on the conference, visit the AAMI website.

John Bethune is editorial director of 24×7.