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Healthcare Faces Massive Cybersecurity Risks

Posted on December 27, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

When a consumer publication like The Washington Post — hardly an insider journal of computing — picks out your industry and slams it for having poor cybersecurity, you know something’s amiss.

The newspaper has just published a report, following a year-long cybersecurity investigation, arguing that healthcare is one of the most vulnerable industries in the U.S., making it a tasty target for terrorists, black-hat hackers and criminals.

It’s rather embarrassing, but it’s hard to argue with the Post’s conclusion that healthcare data security isn’t what it could be. A few data points:

* Researchers are finding that healthcare institutions routinely fail to fix known bugs in aging software, something other industries have largely overcome.

* Providers are making careless use of such public cybertools;  the paper cites the example of the University of Chicago medical center, which at one point operated an unsecured Dropbox site for new residents managing care through their iPads (with a single user name and password published online, yet!)

* According to Post research, open source system OpenEMR “has scores of security flaws that make it easy prey for hackers”

* In perhaps the scariest example, the paper notes that clinicians routinely work around cybersecurity measures to get their job done.

Another factor contributing to cybersecurity holes is confusion about the FDA’s position on security. While the agency actually wants vendors to update FDA-approved device interfaces and systems, vendors often believe that the FDA bars them from updating device software, the Post found.

That leaves devices, especially defibrillators and insulin pumps, open to attacks. Researchers have been able to find these devices, linked to the web in the clear, simply by using a specialized search engine.

As wireless medical devices and smartphones, iPads and Android devices creep into the mix, cybersecurity vulnerabilities are likely to get worse, not better.  I wonder whether we’ll need to see a cybersecurity disaster take place before the industry catches up to, say, financial services?

What Else is Happening on HealthcareScene.com?

Posted on January 7, 2012 I Written By

Here is a quick look at some of the other articles recently posted on some of the other HealthcareScene.com websites:

EHR and EMR Videos
Medical Billing Software & Practice Management Software Demo Video from ADP AdvancedMD – Medical billing software, like AdvancedMD from ADP, will help improve your insurance collections and workflows in your entire medical practice. With cloud software you never have to install software or maintain servers again. Just login from anywhere and you can manage your patients and your entire practice.

Cerner CareAware MDBUS® Demonstration Video – This video is a demonstration of Cerner’s CareAware MDBUS®, a platform which connects medical devices to the electronic medical record using plug-and-play functionality.

EHR and EMR Screenshots
These three posts provide numerous screenshots from the Simple EMR. Check them out and I’d love to read some feedback on what you think about their EMR interface. Is it a Simple EMR?
Screenshots from the Simple EMR
More Screenshots from the Simple EMR
Even More Screenshots from the Simple EMR

Smart Phone Health Care
Future of mHealth Dependent on Interoperability and Use of Available Technology – One of the biggest stumbling blocks with mHealth is there are way too many people developing products rather than businesses.  That is the problem with most of the companies in mHealth at this point.  There are tons of apps and gadgets and other fun things out there, but there is no one company that is trying to bring it all together.  Interoperability is the real basis of success in this industry.

iPads Not Adopted as Quickly by Hospitals as Doctors – iPads are all the rage amongst doctors right now and it is understandable with all they are able to do.  They provide a great amount of convenience for a relatively small financial investment.  For some reason hospitals have not been as quick to adopt this great technology.