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HHS awards funding for cybersecurity threat information sharing

The Department of Health and Human Services awarded funding to a Florida-based healthcare data sharing center to build a more effective system of information sharing about cyberthreats.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Prepardness and Response (ASPR) awarded cooperative agreements totaling $350,000 to the National Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center in Ormond Beach, Florida. NH-ISAC provides services to non-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations, including independent hospitals, health insurance payers and medical device manufacturers.

The ONC agreement provides funding for cyberthreat information sharing in the healthcare and public health sector. The ASPR agreement provides funding to build the capacity of an information sharing and analysis organization that will provide outreach and education about cybersecurity awareness.

In a release Vindell Washington, M.D., national coordinator for health IT, said the funding “will help healthcare organizations of all sizes more easily and effectively share information about cyberthreats and responses in order to protect their data and the health of their patients.”

ASPR previously awarded a planning grant to Harris Health System to identify gaps in cyberthreat information sharing in the healthcare and public health (HPH) sector. An interim report from Harris Health found that leaders in the HPH sector feel cyberthreat information sharing is too slow and that there is a need for a centralized source of cyberthreat information sharing.

Earlier this year, a Ponemon Insitute report on health data privacy and security found that the average cost of a data breach to healthcare organizations was more than $2.2 million. Data breaches also cost the healthcare industry $6.2 billion a year. Nearly 90% of healthcare organizations that were represented in the Ponemon study had a data breach in the past two years; about 45% had more than five breaches in that same time period.