As the FBI continues to investigate the hacking of the Democratic Party organizations and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, we’re hyper-aware of the vital importance of cybersecurity in healthcare — and across the board. Our HIT List this week delves into some of the latest cybersecurity strategies and costs, along with cool new tech tools ranging from robots-as-a-service to broadband mapping.

  1. Paying the price. HIPAA violations recently cost the University of Mississippi Medical Center and Oregon Health & Science University about $2.7 million each to settle with HHS’ Office for Civil Rights. Following the likely theft of a laptop in 2013, UMMC has installed encryption software on all laptops, beefed up its CISO’s responsibilities and hired an outside firm to update all IT security. It certainly pays to make sure you have the proper HIPAA policies and procedures in place.
  2. Job security. Driven in part by high-profile ransomware attacks against healthcare organizations, demand for information security analysts will rise by 18% from 2014 to 2024, predicts the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The hiring surge spans several industries but is likely to be particularly strong in healthcare, as providers seek to safeguard patient data and privacy. That’s what we call a career with a bright future.
  3. The ban is back. The Joint Commission has reinstituted a ban on clinician use of messaging and text tools, deciding clearer recommendations were needed to ensure compliance with Medicare Conditions of Participation. The secure messaging ban — in place since 2011 — was briefly lifted in May. The Joint Commission plans to work with CMS to put new guidelines in place by September, so stay tuned.
  4. Broader broadband insights. The goal of the FCC’s new “Mapping Broadband Health in America” tool is to give healthcare providers detailed insight into community Internet resources, enabling them to better tailor their population health management, chronic disease management and patient engagement programs to local needs. Recognizing that inadequate or exorbitantly priced broadband access is often a huge hurdle for connecting underserved rural areas to life-changing telehealth access, the FCC has been investing in bolstering the necessary infrastructure. Check out how this tool can help.
  5. And now, robots-as-a-service. A national home care assistance agency and a Silicon Valley independent living community are piloting robots-as-a-service to provide companionship and family “check-in” capabilities to seniors. Equipped with two-way video chatting capabilities, the remote-controlled robots can help combat isolation by enabling a distant family member to “share” a meal, TV show or walk with a senior. Eventually, the robots will also feature medical devices to check on seniors’ health. Might be a little tame for R2-D2, but who knows?
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