HHS is investigating a possible breach of a computer system holding personal information of more than 6,700 doctors, nurses and other uniformed public health workers overseen by the surgeon general. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy sent an email last week to members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps warning them that unauthenticated visitors to a computer site could have accessed their names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. Investigators are still trying to determine whether any of the information was actually stolen or compromised.
Embattled blood testing company Theranos will shut down its clinical labs and wellness centers and lay off more than 40% of its full-time employees. Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes said the shutdowns “will impact approximately 340 employees in Arizona, California and Pennsylvania.” Theranos has laboratory facilities in Newark, Calif., and Scottsdale, Ariz. Holmes personally lobbied the Arizona Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey in 2015 to pass a bill that allows people to get a blood test without a doctor’s order. Holmes said the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company will now focus on its mini Lab portable blood-testing product.
The leaders of nearly two dozen healthcare industry organizations, including America’s Health Insurance Plans, Intermountain Healthcare and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, want Congress to continue to push for lifting an 18-year-old ban that prevents HHS from developing a national patient identifier. Twenty-two groups signed a letter sent to the chairs and ranking members of the House Appropriations Committee and its Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee. The letter asks the committee to “develop a coordinated national strategy that will promote patient safety by accurately identifying patients to their health information.”