Monday, March 23, 2015

How I Met Your Founder: Kevin Fu Meets Earl Bakken of Medtronic

Earl Bakken and Kevin Fu discussing
blended medicine, January 2015
I recently had the pleasure of speaking about medical device security at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, touring the unique patient facilities of the North Hawaii Community Hospital, and meeting with Earl Bakken at his home on the Big Island. Earl co-founded Medtronic and is most widely known for inventing the first external, battery-operated, transistorized, wearable artificial pacemaker in 1957. At 91-years-young, Earl continues to keep a busy schedule!

I have to admit, nine years ago I would not have predicted that I'd be having a private lunch conversation about blended medicine with Earl in his home. Back in 2006, I became intensively preoccupied with understanding and improving the security and privacy of implantable medical devices. It took a couple years, but after a rejection, one of our first papers on medical device security was eventually published at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in 2008. Needless to say, there was initially some mutual mistrust between various parties. Here's this academic from the ivory tower warning of security problems from the future! It's only natural to be suspicious.

Fast forward to 2015, and you'll find that many major medical device manufacturers understand the importance of cybersecurity, but are still working on their solutions under the spirit of NIST and AAMI security and risk frameworks. There are growing pains. That's why each May, top engineers from the medical device industry and healthcare providers descend on Ann Arbor for interdisciplinary group problem solving at the Archimedes Workshop on Medical Device Security.

I've got quite the tome of notes from my discussion with Earl, so I'll be updating this blog entry with stories as I get a break from teaching a large undergraduate class this semester. Stay tuned for the next photo and story!

North Hawaii Community Hospital

The radiologists hang loose at North Hawaii Community Hospital,
and have a funny sense of humor.

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