The Bipartisan Policy Center convened thought leaders in national security and health care recently, inviting Leslie Saxon, MD, professor of medicine (clinical scholar) at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and executive director of the USC Center for Body Computing, to speak during a panel discussion, “Cybersecurity and Medical Devices: Assessing Risks and Strategies for Overcoming Them.”

The panel discussed critical issues surrounding the regulation and enforcement of safety standards, as well as policies to avoid the cybersecurity risks inherent in digital health like medical apps, on June 28 in Washington, D.C., in front of a crowd of more than 100 policymakers, corporate executives and news media.

Saxon, who was the only physician on the panel and a recognized national authority on digital health, was joined by: Michael Chertoff, executive chairman and co-founder of The Chertoff Group and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Michael Morrell, former acting and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency; William V. Murray, president and CEO of Medical Device Innovation Consortium; and Robert B. Ford, executive vice president of medical devices for Abbott. Janet Marchibroda, director of health innovation for the Bipartisan Policy Center, which addresses national issues in economic policy, energy, immigration, national security and health care, moderated the panel discussion.

“Cybersecurity is going to be an ongoing risk for digital health as it is with any connected product,” Saxon said. “At the USC Center for Body Computing, we are taking a leadership position with product makers as well as regulatory and enforcement authorities to help create safety standards and policies for this fast-paced and rapidly growing area of health care.”

Saxon’s medical background and digital health expertise is aiding industry as well as state and federal governments and agencies to address the accelerating collision of digital health and cybersecurity risks. She is working with California Gov. Jerry Brown’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) on best health IT cybersecurity practices in support of the public-private effort known as CyberCalifornia. Saxon also is a member of the Food and Drug Administration global mobile guidance committee reviewing regulations and standards for medical apps and serves as chair of the Cybersecurity Medical Advisory Board for Abbott.

— Sherri Snelling