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Report: HHS to Open Healthcare Cybersecurity Center

April 25, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be opening a Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in which healthcare organizations and consumers can get educated about the risks of using mobile apps and data.

The news story, reported in Federal News Radio, noted that the overarching aim of HHS is to “coordinate and secure the ever-growing and complicated world of mobile health IT.” Chris Wlaschin, chief information security officer for HHS, said that the center should open in June.

Per the story, Wlaschin, speaking last week at the ACT-IAC Mobile Health Forum in Washington, D.C., said, “HHS is building a healthcare information collaboration and analysis center, just like the NCCIC [DHS’ National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center], only focused on healthcare. We’ve provided grants to the National Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center to encourage a broad participation … that not just tries to reduce the noise — there’s so much noise out there about cyber threats to security and privacy — but to analyze those and deliver best practices and the two or three things that a small provider, a small office, a doc in a box can do to protect his patient’s privacy and information security around those systems.”

The report noted a 2016 Ponemon Institute study which revealed that 64 percent of security leaders (directors or higher) felt that they lack the tools and resources they need to monitor, 62 percent lack the tools and resources they need to analyze and understand, and 68 percent lack the tools and resources they need to mitigate external threats.

With mobile apps also becoming much more widespread in in the healthcare ecosystem, HHS’ new center will look to work with developers to help them more securely safeguard patient data. Wlaschin said, per the report, “A patient doesn’t want to sign … a long electronic consent form, especially when they’re in crisis,” Wlaschin said. “They want access to health care. The services, the apps, the systems we design and approve, should deliver that.”

Federal News Radio said that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) is also looking into a similar concept.

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