Panel Urges De­ci­sive Ac­tion on Cy­ber­se­cu­rity

Health Data Management - - WASHINGTON REPORT - —Greg Sla­bod­kin

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.”

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