Health IT Roundup—FDA warns about Medtronic cyber vulnerabilities; Apple tapped for joint replacement study

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Medtronic issued a software update to resolve cybersecurity vulnerabilities in 34,000 devicdes. (FDA)

FDA issues cybersecurity warning for Medtronic devices

In a safety communication issued last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said cardiac device maker Medtronic was issuing a software update to resolve cybersecurity vulnerabilities that posed a safety risk for Carelink cardiac devices.

Reuters first reported that the update impacts approximately 34,000 devices that transmit cardiac data to a patient's physician.

"The FDA has reviewed information about potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities associated with the internet connection of Medtronic's programmers, and has confirmed that these vulnerabilities could allow an unauthorized user (that is, someone other than the patient's physician) to change the programmer's functionality or the implanted device during the device implantation procedure or during follow-up visits," the FDA said in a statement, adding that there are no known instances of harm. (Announcement)

Minnesota DHS discloses cyberattack

Hackers recently accessed email accounts of two Minnesota Department of Human Services employees using phishing campaigns, the agency reported last week.

In a letter (PDF) to patients, DHS said the attacks occurred in late June and early July and contained information about people who have interacted with DHS.

DHS says it took "immediate steps" to secure the accounts, and there is no evidence that any patient information was actually viewed or misused. (Announcement)

Apple launches joint replacement study with Zimmer Biomet

Orthopedic manufacturer Zimmer Biomet is teaming up with Apple to track how patients recover from knee and hip replacements.

Patients' health and activity data will be tracked using the Zimmer Biomet mymobility app on an Apple Watch. Researchers will use patient-reported data to provide new insights into the outcomes and costs associated with joint replacement. As many as 10,000 participants are expected to enroll in the study.

"We believe one of the best ways to empower consumers is by giving them the ability to use their health and activity information to improve their own care," Apple COO Jeff Williams said in a statement. "We are proud to enable knee and hip replacement patients to use their own data and share it with their doctors seamlessly, so that they can participate in their care and recovery in a way not previously possible through traditional in-person visits. This solution will connect consumers with their doctors continuously, before and after surgery." (Release)