As the health care industry moves from paper-based to electronic record-keeping, protecting confidential patient information becomes vastly more complex. To address this issue, Verizon is unveiling two new capabilities designed to help safeguard the growing exchange of electronic patient data between hospitals, clinics, physicians, insurers and patients.
The first offering, Verizon Security Management Program-Health Care (SMP-H), enables health care organizations to proactively assess the strength of security measures and practices. It also helps organizations, through an easy-to-use online dashboard, track security efforts against federal and industry-specific security guidelines, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS).
The second new offering is a suite of IT consulting services that help health care providers design and implement safe security practices for sharing information and storing data. The new consulting capabilities include assessment, review, validation and certification services based on the Common Security Framework, a set of industry security standards developed by the Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST). The alliance is a consortium of health care, business, technology and information security organizations created to spur the electronic flow of information throughout the health care system.
Verizon's two new capabilities are available immediately to domestic health care organizations, as well as global multinational corporations with operations in the U.S. The capabilities are part of Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions, a newly formed practice group drawing from expertise and resources across Verizon to deliver a broad portfolio of advanced wired and wireless solutions and professional services tailored to the health care sector.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law earlier this year, contains provisions to facilitate the transition to electronic records and establish interoperability standards. In addition, the act contains funding for the development and adoption of health care IT, including incentive payments through the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement systems to encourage providers and hospitals to implement electronic health records systems.
(Note: Listen to an audio podcast on the new health care IT security capabilities now available through Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions.)
"Moving to an electronic-based patient record-keeping system will help health care providers nationwide to improve patient care, control costs and expand access to critical health care information for patients and physicians alike," said Kerry Bailey, senior vice president, global services, Verizon Business. "Verizon Business is now delivering tailored IT solutions to meet the challenges facing the health care sector, especially the need for strong data protection."
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit organization established to raise awareness of identity theft, in 2008 there were 97 publicly reported health care industry data breaches, representing 7.3 million, or 20.5 percent, of nearly 35.7 million compromised records. (Because of underreporting, the actual number of breaches and compromised records was likely higher.) This compares with 64 reported health care industry breaches in 2007.
Verizon/HITRUST Relationship Key for Humana
One health care enterprise that sees the benefits of Verizon's new health care security capabilities is Humana, a full-service benefits solutions company that offers a wide array of health and supplementary benefit plans for employer groups, government programs and individuals, and is a Verizon Business customer.
"As the health care industry continues to modernize, security challenges are becoming more complex," said Jon Moore, chief information security officer, Humana. "By supporting the HITRUST Common Security Framework, Verizon offers leading solutions that streamline meeting rigorous security requirements. As one of the largest U.S. health benefit companies, Humana takes security very seriously. Working with Verizon enables us to protect the sensitive information entrusted to us in ways that are at the forefront of changes in our industry."
Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions
By leveraging its IT expertise and world-class networks, Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions provides innovative wireless and wired solutions to help transform the delivery of patient care, better manage costs, enhance access to services, and provide data privacy. The Verizon IT services portfolio includes a broad array of security, hosting, storage, collaboration, networking and managed and professional services, as well as customized applications, to meet the unique, and often complex requirements of the health care industry.
(Note: See related news release on Maimonides Medical Center turning to Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions to help assure the privacy of patient data.)
About Verizon Business
Verizon Business, a unit of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ), is a global leader in communications and IT solutions. We combine professional expertise with the world's most connected IP network to deliver award-winning communications, IT, information security and network solutions. We securely connect today's extended enterprises of widespread and mobile customers, partners, suppliers and employees - enabling them to increase productivity and efficiency and help preserve the environment. Many of the world's largest businesses and governments - including 96 percent of the Fortune 1000 and thousands of government agencies and educational institutions - rely on our professional and managed services and network technologies to accelerate their business. Find out more at www.verizonbusiness.com.