CAREER: Safe and Secure Network Control for Smart and Connected Hospitals

NSF CNS-1553273

Project Introduction

With the increasing reliability and pervasiveness of wireless networks, more and more critical systems such as vehicular networks, military systems, and first responder systems, rely on wireless networks. In modern hospitals, wireless technology will be used to interconnect medical, sensing, and computing devices, as well as the electronic health record system to enable smart medical applications, such as real-time patient monitoring, which can significantly improve quality of care. Researchers have accumulated abundant knowledge for designing network solutions for critical systems, however, most of them isolate the network designs from application context: very limited context of the application circumstances, e.g. location and user identity, is considered. Differently, in medical applications for connected hospitals, the network and security functionalities of medical systems are often tightly coupled with the medical context, such as patient's physiological state and caregiver's workflow. As much of those context information becomes available in real-time via connected medical devices and sensors, this project addresses this urgent challenge to investigate and integrate context into network control under safety requirements. If successful, the research results shall reduce hazards and deployment cost of wired networks in hospitals, and facilitate real-time and efficient information exchange among patients, doctors, and clinical support systems.

This work establishes fundamental network models that incorporate context information, and provides networking solutions for different medical applications under their safety and reliability requirements. Specifically, the intellectual contributions of this proposed work are: i) networked medical devices, sensors, electronic health record, and clinical decision support systems provide real-time and rich contextual information about the patients and the medical procedures. We investigate the relation between the medical context and the medical systems network and security functionalities, and create context based network and security control models. ii) Under the reliability and safety requirements of medical applications, we design and develop technologies to coordinate data collection across heterogeneous wireless networks, control electromagnetic interference, configure and optimize operations of medical devices. iii) Since trustworthy authentication to medical devices, networks, and electronic health record is vital to protect patient?s safety and privacy, we design access control algorithms based on patient specific medical context. iv) To integrate different control solutions into a consistent system in various contexts, we design control analysis algorithms and tools to identify hidden policy conflicts statically and dynamically. v) A reference wireless medical sensor and device testbed is created and deployed into real scenarios under a variety of contexts.