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Learning Center Experience
By Robert Tedeschi School of Health Sciences Facutly
Medical identity theft is becoming a concern
in the health care industry. The demand by providers to gain access to electronic
health records and/or health portals has allowed hackers new avenues and
markets to target.
Earlier this year, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center was
forced to pay a 40-bitcoin ransom (the equivalent of approximately $17,000)
after a hacker seized control of the hospital’s computer system. The
incident encountered at Hollywood Presbyterian is not unique since numerous government
and civilian businesses are encountering the same problem but are not dealing
with life-threatening consequences. The major difference is that medical information
must be accessible 24/7 and interrupting the access can cause serious problems.
Managing medical computer
centers has become a funding controversy and HIPAA has just begun to develop
criteria and procedures to address the problem—which may be too late. The HIPAA
privacy regulations require health care providers and organizations, as well as
their business associates, to develop and follow procedures that ensure the
confidentiality and security of protected health information (PHI) when it is
transferred, received, handled, or shared.
As the Director of Naval
Hospital Computer Center, I’ve had to implement procedures to reduce exposure
to hackers. I’ve found the best procedure employed was maintaining viable backups
and journals of all activities for tracking intruders. I created a positon in
the computer center for overseeing all activities and employed the same
procedure used by the IRS for assigning access.
Payment of ransom for the
hackers to release control of the information is not right. Hackers may be within
the organization or outside the organization but all procedures must be maintained
and assured that offsite computers are available at a moment’s notice to
provide basic medical access to only
key personnel for restoring services.
In the event of a breach,
the first task is to regain control of a viable computer platform for providing
basic services and then rebuild the in-house platform. The next step is to isolate all accounts and
begin retrieving accounts for locating the hackers.
HIPAA has created a very comprehensive checklist to
assist computer centers in drastically reducing exposure by hackers. Creating extensive
procedures and maintaining current firewalls/malicious software will control
all traffic as well as assigning individual(s) for overseeing security
Actions taken to reduce the theft in medical centers
Robert Tedeschi is a faculty member
at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are solely those of
the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.
Electronic Medical Records and the Future
Inspiration From a Nontraditional Student
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And if you are considering pursuing a health sciences degree, we invite you to find out more about Kaplan University's School of Health Sciences and explore our undergraduate and graduate degree offerings.
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