HHS has released updates regarding the Ryuk ransomware, which has been linked to a recent cyberattack at Universal Health Services. The agency urged health care organizations to take steps to reduce their cyberattack risks and shared ransomware outbreak insights and protection advice from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
A study presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes virtual meeting and published in Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism found that among the surveyed 7,000 patients with type 1 diabetes from 89 different countries, 86% thought the telemedicine appointments they have had during the COVID-19 pandemic were useful. The findings also showed that 75% of the respondents would consider using remote appointments again in the future.
Unauthorized employee access to individual EHRs violates HIPAA rules, and chief information officers are using a combination of software, built-in access logging tools, education and human intervention to prevent it. "Unfortunately, medical record snooping is a human behavior that must be addressed," said Harris Health System CIO David Chou.
Third-party trackers on the websites of government agencies, medical centers, nonprofit organizations and news outlets have been collecting data on people who visit those websites in search of information about COVID-19, and some of the information collected will be used for marketing or sold to other parties. Browsing data is treated as marketable, not as protected health information, and it could be used to sell sham products or to discriminate against so-called COVID-19 long-haulers, write bioethicist Matthew McCoy, computer scientist Timothy Libert and heath economist Ari Friedman.
An artificial intelligence platform called DrBioRight will help biomedical researchers analyze large datasets, scientists from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reported in Cancer Cell. The open-access platform is designed for researchers who don't have expertise in bioinformatics or computer programming and uses a natural-language chat interface to conduct routine analyses of datasets.
National Coordinator for Health IT Don Rucker said the Trump administration is exploring changes to the implementation and compliance dates for final interoperability and information blocking rules in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though Rucker didn't provide details, the Office of Management and Budget recently received an interim final rule called "Information Blocking and the ONC Health IT Certification Program: Extension of Compliance Dates and Timeframes in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency."
The lack of actionable public health data during the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for federal health data sharing standards so federal agencies can send useful information to their state and local counterparts, experts said during a virtual conference. A bipartisan House bill would establish common data standards for public health information, a CDC data standards working group, and a demonstration project using government datasets to analyze trends, such as links between social determinants of health and COVID-19 outcomes.
Johns Hopkins University researchers write that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased ageism, and public discourse has portrayed people over age 70 as helpless, frail, and unable to contribute to society. "One of the disturbing social consequences of COVID-19 includes a significant increase in the number of elder abuse cases, paralleling the rise of ageism," the authors wrote in an online article published in Psychiatric Times.
Age discrimination has been against the law since 1967 but continues in practice, as the National Bureau of Economic Research has found people over age 40 are less likely to be offered a job if an employer knows their age. COVID-19 risks put older workers at additional disadvantage, and Andrew Challenger, president of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said it can lead to financial hardship, taking early Social Security, and tapping retirement funds.
A study published in the journal Pharmacotherapy that included data from 40,800 patients ages 65 and older found 1 in 10 who were prescribed an opioid by a dentist also were taking medications that should not be used with the pain killers. Researchers said these patients had a 23% increased risk of visiting a hospital emergency department or needing hospitalization within a month of the dental visit.
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