Panel Urges Decisive Action on Cybersecurity
HEALTHCARE CYBERSECURITY IS A KEY PUBLIC concern that needs immediate and aggressive attention to counter the growing threats putting patient information at risk, according to the findings of a just-released task force report mandated by Congress.
The task force’s 21 subject matter experts, drawn from a diverse group of stakeholders, was created by the Department of Health and Human Services in response to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 and charged with examining healthcare’s challenges in securing data from hacker attacks and to see how safeguards can be improved.
Specifically, the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force identified six “high-level imperatives by which to organize its recommendations and action items,” including:
• Defining and streamlining the government’s leadership, governance and expectations for healthcare industry cybersecurity.
• Increasing the security and resilience of medical devices and health IT.
• Developing the healthcare workforce capacity necessary to prioritize and ensure cybersecurity awareness and technical capabilities.
• Increasing healthcare industry readiness through improved cybersecurity awareness and education.
• Identifying mechanisms to protect research and development efforts and intellectual property from attacks or exposure.
• Improving information sharing of industry threats, weaknesses and mitigations.
The panel, co-chaired by Emery Csulak, chief information security officer at CMS, and Theresa Meadows, CIO at Cook Children’s Health Care System, developed a set of more than 100 recommendations to help increase cybersecurity across the healthcare industry.
“As healthcare becomes increasingly dependent on information technology, our ability to protect our systems will have an ever greater impact on the health of the patients we serve,” wrote Csulak and Meadows to the chairmen of several congressional committees in a letter accompanying the report, issued in early June. “While much of what we recommend will require hard work, difficult decisions and commitment of resources, we will be encouraged and unified by our shared values as healthcare industry professionals and our commitment to providing safe, high quality care.”