by: Tenikka Smith Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - In less than three weeks, Microsoft will stop providing security updates for its Windows XP operating system.
Those still using it will be vulnerable to viruses and hackers.
Much of the equipment used by medical facilities and hospitals like Carolinas Medical Center, operate on Windows XP.
Carolinas Healthcare Vice President & Chief Technology Officer Eric Christian says an IT team of about 100 people has been focused on upgrading equipment for the last two years.
The team is preparing for April 8 when Microsoft will no longer provide online tech support, automatic fixes or security updates for its Windows XP operating system.
"We've been working on remediation for quite some time,” Christian said.
Christian said CHS has about 40,000 clinical devices that use the system, like patient monitors and blood pressure cuffs.
His team has upgraded or replaced all but 500 of them.
Christian said 42,000 non-clinical devices are affected like desktops, laptops and nursing stations.
By Microsoft's April 8 deadline, he said 37,000 of those devices will have been upgraded to Windows 7.
A security technology company will protect the remaining 5,000 devices from viruses or hackers until all upgrades are completed later this summer.
All these steps are critical since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services require hospitals to maintain patient privacy under federal HIPPA laws and the Food and Drug Administration mandates equipment be up-to-date and in working order.
"We do a great deal of due diligence as well, as it is very important for us to ensure the safety of that patient information,” Christian said.
CHS also has a long-standing policy in place to audit, update or replace equipment on a yearly basis.
If you want to learn more about what's happening with Windows XP, we can connect you to Microsoft's Safety and Security Center.