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Hacking in Healthcare: Don’t Get Caught in the Hype, Warns Consultant

September 12, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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The Healthcare Informatics podcast welcomes back Impact Advisors’ Rob Faix to talk about hacking threats in healthcare. In August of this year, Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems, Inc., one of the largest health systems in the U.S., got hacked and the data of 4.5 million patients was stolen.

This incident led the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to send a warning to healthcare organizations over the threat of increased data breaches, specifically from hack attacks. Faix talks with HCI Senior Editor Gabriel Perna about hackers in healthcare and whether or not, organizations should be on guard for this kind of threat.

“You need to maintain a balanced approach (to health data security) from an operations and a technology perspective and not get caught up in the hype and highlights we see on the news,” Faix says. “Yes, this was a big deal. This is going to change the way technologies are managed and operated and implemented within healthcare. We still need to keep a focus on the operations side.”

Rob Faix

Healthcare has seen a ramping up of data breaches since 2009, when reporting of incidents became mandatory under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. However, Faix suggests that part of this “ramping up” is part of a numbers game.

“Look at how many organizations now have electronic medical records and continue to invest in electronic progresses. Our footprint for potential exposure is getting bigger and bigger,” Faix says.

In terms of preventing hacks, Faix says organizations should focus on those operational lapses. In many cases, he says organizations are giving away their data accidentally. Training has to be vigilant, he says.

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