BI: Partner’s #security chief warns:”You can do a lot with the information contained in a #healthrecord,” including get a credit card.

partners gatewayBusiness Insider quotes MGH Chief Medical Officer O’Neil Britton who spoke at Hub Week on hospital cybersecurity.

We have 72,000 employees with credentials to log into our computer system,” says O’Neill. “Our network has many components, including a financial clearance system and an electronic health records database. Not all 72,000 employees can get into each component, but having this number of people can make it easier for criminals to access our network with a phishing attack, for example.” (He emphasized that his organization has implemented some robust anti-phishing training for employees.)

Despite enabling great convenience, technology can also increase the potential for harm. “You can do a lot with the information contained in a health record: get a mortgage, file insurance claims, open a credit card, get a mortgage,” says Jagar Kadakia, Chief Information Security and Privacy Officer of Boston-based Partners HealthCare. “It’s way more valuable than a credit card number.” To steal a few thousand paper records would require a truck. To steal the social security numbers, addresses, and driver’s license data for 136 million Americans would only require a USB drive. I

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Health Policy Commission versus Partners

Lots of amazing research and care happens at Partners Healthcare, and we pay a bonus for it.

Or, as  Boston Globe writer   puts it “Partners has long been criticized for using its power in the health care market to extract higher payments from insurers and driving up health care costs.”

But, Partners faces scrutiny from the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, a panel that includes some health care heavyweights and a team of data analysts who are tracking cost and utilization in the state.  

McCluskey reports in today’s paper: 

Partners HealthCare’s expansion plans suffered a setback Wednesday after a state watchdog agency warned that health care costs for consumers would rise significantly if Partners is allowed to acquire the specialty hospital Massachusetts Eye and Ear.

The Health Policy Commission said Partners, the state’s largest health care network, is likely to seek higher reimbursements for care by Mass. Eye and Ear and its doctors if the deal goes through. Because Partners is already a high-priced network, the deal would increase health care spending statewide by $20.8 million to $61.2 million a year, according to the commission.

“These spending increases would ultimately be borne by consumers and businesses through higher commercial premiums,” the commission said in a lengthy report.

Last year, your correspondent interviewed Brandies economist Stuart Altman, who chairs the panel, about what Massachusetts is doing to contain health costs.

First of all, it is the only state that has recognized that it should be involved in total state spending. Some other states that are closer are Vermont and Maryland. But the Massachusetts state government is really acknowledging that it has responsibility for not only what it spends on Medicaid, but that it should be concerned with total spending.

 

Surgeons, MGH react to to Globe story on surgery scheduling

ss2 (2)Reaction to the Globe’s Spotlight series on simultaneous surgeries — where a surgeon has two operations going at the same time — continues in the paper and beyond

In late December, the paper reported:

 

The American College of Surgeons plans for a roughly 10-member committee — which includes both critics and supporters of concurrent surgeries — to craft a consistent approach to keeping patients safe and informed when doctors run two operating rooms, according to Dr. David Hoyt, executive director of the organization.

“We are going to move as quickly as we can on this,” Hoyt said. “This is a priority.”
A Globe survey of 47 hospitals nationwide found that it is common for surgeons to start a second operation before the first is complete, often after the surgeries were deliberately scheduled to overlap briefly. However, some surgeons have operations that run simultaneously for longer periods. And few hospitals call on doctors to explicitly tell patients when their operations are double-booked.

The paper also ran an editorial cartoon — a surgeon on RollerBlades –with a super long disclosure statement.

MGH got a lot of space in the Sunday “Ideas” section to offer their unfiltered take on the matter, as did this doctor:

When I handle concurrent procedures, I have to carefully design the schedule around when I can and cannot be absent from an operating room. Surgical procedures have “critical” and “noncritical” portions, and this changes on a case-by-case basis depending on the patient and his or her unique problem as well as the team I’m working with. For instance, if I’m working with a brand-new intern, then every moment, from preparation to wake-up, is critical. If I’m working with a seasoned fellow with five years of operating experience, then the critical portions are much more focused.

From the Jan. 10 piece  by Dr. Peter L. Slavin –president of Massachusetts General Hospital  and Dr. Thomas J. Lynch chairman of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization ran in the Sunday “Ideas” section of the paper

Overlapping surgery occurs at MGH and hospitals throughout the country for a variety of reasons. Overlapping surgery saves lives in certain clinical situations, such as after the Boston Marathon bombings and the Rhode Island Station nightclub fire, when multiple critically ill patients need rapid access to surgical care. Overlapping surgery enhances access to care, helping meet the high demand for certain specialties and specialists.

Partners has also posted detailed comments on its own web site.