While at HIMSS10, it was clear that the Health IT movement is progressing. Now that many major hospital systems and larger group physician practices have adopted EHR systems, how is their digitized health information going to move through the larger healthcare system? The HIMSS10 Interoperability Showcase focused on answering this very question. Vendors and other companies are now looking into creating the health information highway, so health information can leave silos and be seamlessly transported between healthcare entities and delivery systems. 

However, with this advancement in Health IT interoperability and exchange, more questions about safety and security of Health IT arise. Many companies have emerged to offer services that will securely and safely share and exchange digitized health data.

One of these companies is FireHost, and I had the opportunity to speak with FireHost’s CEO, Chris Drake. Firehost is a secure web hosting company that provides affordable hosting solutions with enterprise level security to companies of all sizes. FireHost is heavily involved in the Health IT, as the security and privacy of digitized health information is an issue at the forefront of the national push for an interoperable health IT infrastructure. Chris spoke about some of the critical issues facing Health IT security with the growing popularity of web-based EHR systems.

One of the major security/safety concerns with web-based EHRs is the ability for hackers to gain access into EHR systems, which could lead to the loss or altering of patient data and even the destruction of clinical information systems. To prevent this, Chris stated that the first- and most important- step for healthcare facilities is to take responsibility to protect digitized health data, and attend to the security/safety of health information in the early planning and budgeting stages of EHR implementation.

Chris adds that as he’s consulted with healthcare facilities, he finds that most organizations did not address security at the forefront of the EHR implementation process. Safety and security of digitized health information is also a HIPAA issue, and medical facilities small and large must ensure their electronic systems are compliant with HIPAA regulations and guidelines to avoid expensive penalties for security breaches. Enlisting the help of a company such as FireHost at the beginning stages of EHR implementation will help ensure that the specific needs of a medical facility are met – whether it is a small one practice physician or large hospital system.

Chris explains that secure hosting of electronic health information ensures that data is protected from hackers and from concerns of system down time should power be lost or a networked computer system crash. A secure hosting solution such as FireHost can provide data backup and redundancy protection.

Since many EHRs have different security needs, Chris recommends that medical facilities identify a security partner that can meet their specific needs, and while cost is a major concern among healthcare providers, he reiterates that secure hosting solutions don’t have to be expensive. FireHost offers affordable secure hosting for healthcare facilities of all sizes.

As the nation’s electronic health infrastructure unfolds, there will inevitably be health information security breaches, and these events will bring to light which medical facilities prioritized health information security. This discussion with Chris Drake of FireHost truly communicates the importance of medical facilities to enlist the help of a secure hosting solution at the beginning of the EHR adoption process, and this should be a national priority as interoperability and sharing of health information becomes a critical issue in supporting the nationwide electronic health information infrastructure.

For more information on FireHosts healthcare solutions, visit www.firehost.com/