Hospitals tighten security on patient data

Hospitals tighten security on patient data
Hospitals tighten security on patient data 

By Alice Lipowicz
Nov 18, 2009

More than half of the nation's hospitals and health care providers 
surveyed intend to buy more cybersecurity tools to safeguard against 
breaches of electronic medical records as a result of requirements in 
the economic stimulus law, according to a new survey of 186 health care 
providers and associates.

The stimulus law has provision known as the Health Information 
Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which took 
effect on Sept. 23. It includes a broader definition of what patient 
health data must be protected against unauthorized release, increased 
penalties for violations and provides for aggressive enforcement. The 
law also requires providers to notify the Health and Human Services 
Department of all data breaches and to call media outlets if more than 
500 residents in an area are affected.

As a result of the HITECH Act, 57 percent of the survey respondents said 
they would make additional investments in security tools or 
technologies, according to the survey by Healthcare Information and 
Management Systems Society Analytics released Nov. 17. The survey 
included got responses from 150 executives with provider organizations 
and 26 executives with business associates.

More than 90 percent of the survey respondents said their organizations 
have either changed, or plan to change, their policies and procedures to 
prevent and detect data breaches. More than 75 percent plan to do 
additional staff training against breaches, and 75 percent are revising 
their organization's security policies and procedures. Forty-six percent 
said they would take all those steps.


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