House Bipartisan Bill Aims to Improve HHS Cybersecurity | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

House Bipartisan Bill Aims to Improve HHS Cybersecurity

November 2, 2017
by Heather Landi
| Reprints

Reps. Billy Long (R-MO) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced new legislation Wednesday that would allow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reorganize its cybersecurity personnel and gives the HHS Secretary authority to designate an officer focused on cybersecurity.

The legislation, H.R. 4191, the HHS Cybersecurity Modernization Act, is designed to address cyber threats to HHS, according to Reps Long and Matsui, who are both members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

During April and June Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearings that examined health care cybersecurity efforts, health care sector stakeholders and HHS testified on improvements to the department’s capabilities in managing threats, the appointment of a “cybersecurity designee,” the creation and deployment of a health care focused cyber threat coordination center, and the work completed by the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force called for under Section 405 of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, according to a House Energy and Commerce Committee press release about the legislation.

However, recent cybersecurity threats like WannaCry and NotPetya indicate that more work is necessary, the committee members concluded.

The HHS Cybersecurity Modernization Act would support these recent efforts at HHS and build upon the work prompted by Section 405 by giving the Secretary of HHS the authority to reorganize its cybersecurity personnel and to designate an officer within HHS as chief information security officer (CISO) as having primary responsibility for the information security, including cybersecurity, programs of the department. In addition, the legislation directs that the CISO would report directly to the HHS Secretary.

The legislation also requires HHS to develop and submit a plan regarding the following:

  • The internal coordination between HHS offices that have regulatory authority with regards to health care cybersecurity, and how those offices will coordinate their efforts to provide a “whole-of-department” response to modern cybersecurity challenges.
  • The role of HHS in securing its own internal information systems as compared to its role in providing guidance, information, education, training, and assistance to the health care sector, and how it will differentiate between those two roles.
  • The challenges HHS faces as both the regulator and the Sector Specific Agency for health care, and how it will differentiate between these two roles.

“We can always do more to boost our cybersecurity efforts, and while HHS has made some important strides in this effort, we think more can and should be done to help protect the sensitive information the department holds,” Long and Matsui said in prepared statements. “We are particularly hopeful for the results that could yield from HHS detailing such a plan and look forward to continued efforts to address potential cyber threats.”

 

Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More

Topics

News

ONC Roundup: Senior Leadership Changes Spark Questions

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has continued to experience changes within its upper leadership, leading some folks to again ponder what the health IT agency’s role will be moving forward.

Media Report: Walmart Hires Former Humana Executive to Run Health Unit

Reigniting speculation that Walmart and insurer Humana are exploring ways to forge a closer partnership, Walmart Inc. has hired a Humana veteran to run its health care business, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Value-Based Care Shift Has Halted, Study Finds

A new study of 451 physicians and health plan executives suggests that progress toward value-based care has stalled. In fact, it may have even taken a step backward over the past year, the research revealed.

Study: EHRs Tied with Lower Hospital Mortality, But Only After Systems Have Matured

Over the past decade, there has been significant national investment in electronic health record (EHR) systems at U.S. hospitals, which was expected to result in improved quality and efficiency of care. However, evidence linking EHR adoption to better care is mixed, according to medical researchers.

Nursing Notes Can Help Predict ICU Survival, Study Finds

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario have found that sentiments in healthcare providers’ nursing notes can be good indicators of whether intensive care unit (ICU) patients will survive.

Health Catalyst Completes Acquisition of HIE Technology Company Medicity

Salt Lake City-based Health Catalyst, a data analytics company, has completed its acquisition of Medicity, a developer of health information exchange (HIE) technology, and the deal adds data exchange capabilities to Health Catalyst’s data, analytics and decision support solutions.