Health IT Roundup—UConn Health data breach impacts 300,000 patient records; Cedars-Sinai pilots Amazon Alexa in patient rooms

The University of Connecticut Health Center is notifying patients of a data breach. (Chainarong Prasertthai/GettyImages)

UConn Health reports data breach due to phishing attack

The University of Connecticut Health Center is notifying patients of a data breach due to an unauthorized third party illegally accessing employee email accounts. UConn Health learned of the phishing attack on Dec. 24 and determined that some of the accounts contained some personal and medical information, including some patients’ names, dates of birth, addresses and limited medical information, such as billing and appointment information, UConn Health officials said in an announcement posted on its website Friday.

The incident had no impact on the organization’s computer networks or electronic medical record systems, officials said.

A local news station, WFSB, reported that 326,000 patient records may have been exposed, including 1,500 that included Social Security numbers.


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“We have taken and will continue to take steps to help prevent something like this from happening again, including evaluating additional platforms for educating staff and reviewing technical controls,” UConn Health officials said. (Announcement)

CMS updates opioid prescribing mapping tool with Medicaid, rural health data

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) updated its Opioid Prescribing Mapping Tool to include data for opioid prescribing in the Medicaid program. Additionally, users can now make geographic comparisons of Medicare Part D opioid prescribing rates over time for urban and rural communities, according to CMS in a press release.

The online resource, first launched in 2015, offers local communities greater transparency into opioid prescribing rates and enables state and local leaders to use data to better inform local prevention and treatment efforts, particularly in rural communities hard hit by the opioid crisis, CMS said. Users can now make geographic comparisons of Medicare Part D opioid prescribing rates over time for urban and rural communities.

Data is a critical tool to help CMS develop targeted policies and track progress on key indicators of success, the agency said. CMS used data to identify Medicare physicians who were prescribing higher levels of opioids than their peers, sending over 24,000 letters in 2017 and 2018 to those physicians to incentivize safe prescribing practices. (Press release)

Cedars-Sinai pilots Alexa in patient rooms

Los Angeles-based Cedars Sinai Medical Center is piloting the use of an Alexa-powered platform known as Aiva in 100 patient rooms to enable patients to interact hands-free with nurses and control their entertainment. Aiva is the world's first patient-centered voice assistant platform for hospitals, according to a Cedars-Sinai press release.

In the pilot project, patient rooms are equipped with Amazon Echos and patients can give verbal demands. The patient's request is routed to the mobile phone of the appropriate caregiver, whether a nurse, clinical partner, manager or administrator.

Sumeet Bhatia, founder and CEO of Aiva, said smart patient rooms help improve patient satisfaction by giving patients more entertainment options, more control over their environment and closer communication with their care team. (Press release)

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