Six Imperatives for Cybersecurity in U.S. Healthcare
- Christine Sublett
On June 2, 2017, the HHS Healthcare Industry Cybersecurity Task Force released the final Report on Improving Cybersecurity in the Health Care Industry to Congress.
The Task Force report demonstrates the urgency and complexity of the cybersecurity risks facing the health care industry and calls for collaboration between public and private industry to protect our systems and patients from cyber threats. Our Task Force recognized that security issues are patient safety issues.
There are six (6) imperatives developed by the Task Force that forms the basis for the report. Each imperative includes a set of recommendations and associated action items for implementing the recommendation:
- Imperative 1: Define and streamline leadership, governance, and expectations for health care industry cybersecurityRecommendations within this imperative focus on leadership and accountability for cybersecurity in corporate governance structures, industry organizations, and government at all levels. The Task Force recommends the creation of a “cybersecurity leader” role within HHS to coordinate activities and serve as a single focal point for industry engagement across regulatory and voluntary cybersecurity programs.
- Imperative 2: Increase security and resilience of medical devices and health ITThis imperative addresses the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act’s mandate to review the unique cybersecurity challenges of medical devices and electronic health records. This imperative takes a total product lifecycle approach, recommending a mix of regulatory, accreditation, information sharing, and voluntary development and adoption of standards to promote system security from product design and development through end of life.
- Imperative 3: Develop the health care workforce capacity necessary to prioritize and ensure cybersecurity awareness and technical capabilitiesIn this section, the Task Force outlines the major workforce challenges facing health care information technology and cybersecurity, especially among small, rural, and other lesser-resourced organizations. It recommends steps to enhance cybersecurity leadership in organizations, develop the nation’s health care cybersecurity workforce, and create options for organizations to gain efficiencies by leveraging shared cybersecurity services.
- Imperative 4: Increase health care industry readiness through improved cybersecurity awareness and educationThis imperative focuses on increasing the cybersecurity posture within organizations by raising awareness among corporate leadership, educating employees on the importance of cybersecurity, and empowering patients to make better choices related to the security of their personal health information. The Task Force recommends that HHS work with government and industry partners to promote cybersecurity awareness across health care.
- Imperative 5: Identify mechanisms to protect research and development efforts and intellectual property from attacks or exposureThis section focuses on the significant problem of health care intellectual property theft related to areas such as clinical trials, drug and device development, big data applications, and general health care business operations. It recommends activities to increase the industry’s understanding of the scope of the problem and the economic and other risks of continuing intellectual property loss.
- Imperative 6: Improve information sharing of industry threats, risks, and mitigationsRecommendations under this imperative focus on the sharing of cyber threat information among government and industry stakeholders. The Task Force recommends general principles to follow in the establishment of cyber threat information sharing systems in health care, with a focus on ensuring that actionable information reaches small and rural organizations.
As required by CISA, the HHS Secretary is sharing educational materials on cybersecurity, including the Task Force’s report and appendix, with industry stakeholders to improve preparedness for and response to cybersecurity threats.
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