Welch Allyn gets FIPS validation for wireless vitals monitors

By Neil Versel

Welch Allyn vital signs monitor 6500Medical device maker Welch Allyn said Monday that its products have become the first wireless vital-signs monitors to pass rigorous U.S. government security standards for use in federal healthcare facilities.

Two Welch Allyn products, the Connex Vital Signs Monitor 6500 Series and Connex Integrated Wall System 8500 Series, have earned Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 Level 1 validation, meaning that they meet wireless encryption standards required for use in federal deployments. The approval opens the door for federal healthcare providers, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Military Health System and the Indian Health Service, to purchase and install the Connex systems in their hospitals and clinics.

The Connex VSM and IWS are part of the Connex Electronic Vitals Documentation System, Which Welch Allyn says it designed to integrate with VA infrastructure.

However, government facilities will not be able to use the monitors or wall system until Welch Allyn releases an updated, FIPS-validated version 3.0 of its radio software later this year, the Skaneateles Falls, N.Y.-based company says. Products installed now with an earlier version can be upgraded in the field.

Welch Allyn built the radio specifically for healthcare, and the devices are compatible with 802.11a/b/g wireless networks, according to the company. With accompanying Connex Vitals Management software, the monitors can automatically populate electronic health records.

"Our integrated radio uniquely meets the demands of clinical staff on the front lines since it was designed specifically for low-acuity areas, like med/surg floors," Will Fox, the company's director of marketing for the U.S. and Canada, says in a press release. "The wireless coverage in these areas may be less robust than traditional monitoring locales, like telemetry units, and this radio is optimized to work seamlessly in these areas to improve clinician workflow and reduce errors. It also provides the highest level of authentication and encryption available for commercial 802.11 networks and FIPS validation adds additional peace of mind that the data will not be breached or compromised."