Health IT Roundup—Blue Cross Blue Shield’s cyber team battles constant threats; addiction lobbyists want Part 2 changes

With hackers increasingly targeting medical data, Blue Cross Blue Shield has been forced to step up monitoring. (Pixabay / Pexels)

How Blue Cross Blue Shield’s cyber team fights off attackers

In an operation center called the “Cyber Fusion room” in Dallas, a team of 200 analysts employed by Health Care Services Corp is constantly fighting off attackers trying to access the information of 15 million members on Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans in five states.

HCSC Chief Information Security Officer Kevin Charest jokes that he hasn’t slept “since 1979” because of the near constant threats he is monitoring. As medical data has become increasingly alluring to hackers, Charest says HCSC is making “significant investments” in “internal and external identity management.” (Dallas News)

Addiction lobbyists push for changes to privacy laws

Lobbyists with several addiction management organizations are making a strong push to change 42 CFR Part 2 that requires patients to give patients special consent to share substance abuse records.

The law has been a frequent target for critics who see it as an antiquated regulation that prevents providers from adequately sharing information. The Department of Health and Human Services recently updated Part 2, making small changes to ease data sharing concerns and indicating it may consider additional rulemaking. But substantial changes require action from Congress, which is why advocates are throwing their support behind one bill—H.R.3545—to relax the statute. (Morning Consult)

EHRs haven’t done much to help patients with heart failure

New research looking at the association between EHR adoption and better care for patients with heart failure finds there hasn’t been a notable impact.

Researchers at several medical academic centers found no association between EHR status and quality metrics or in-hospital outcomes for heart failure patients. The results, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA), indicated that digitized records had no impact on quality metrics like 30-day mortality, readmission or composite outcome.

However, the authors note that the results are not an argument against EHR adoption, but “underscore the need for improved use of EHR or refinement of its clinical decision support and algorithm construction.” (Study)

Shulkin says ‘toxic’ environment forced him out

Hours after being fired by President Donald Trump, ousted VA Secretary David Shulkin, M.D., wrote a scathing op-ed calling the environment in Washington “so toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive” that it was impossible to get anything accomplished.

Shulkin added that he was forced out because political appointees in the Trump administration saw him as an “obstacle” to privatizing the VA health system. He also said that he was barred from publicly addressing the Inspector General report that said he improperly used taxpayer dollars. (FierceHealthcare)