Warner questions health care groups on cybersecurity

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senators offer bipartisan bill to help US firms remove Huawei equipment from networks DOJ plans to show Senate Intel less-redacted Mueller report, filing shows MORE (D-Va.) sent a letter to several major health care groups on Thursday asking what they have done to prevent cyberattacks and how the federal government can help them address cyber issues.

“The increased use of technology in health care certainly has the potential to improve the quality of patient care, expand access to care (including by extending the range of services through telehealth), and reduce wasteful spending,” Warner wrote in the letter, according to a release. “However, the increased use of technology has also left the health care industry more vulnerable to attack.”

Warner, the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, cited a Government Accountability Office report that found that more than 113 million health care records were stolen in 2015 through cyberattacks.

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The letter was sent to organizations like the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the National Rural Health Association and the Healthcare Leadership Council.

Warner asked the groups how they track connected systems in their facilities, how they have made their staff more aware of security issues and whether there are any federal laws that need to be changed to help them address cybersecurity issues.

“I would like to work with you and other industry stakeholders to develop a short and long term strategy for reducing cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the health care sector,” the Democrat wrote. “It is my hope that with thoughtful and carefully considered feedback we can develop a national strategy that improves the safety, resilience, and security of our health care industry.”

Cybersecurity has recently emerged as a growing concern for the health care industry. Much of that work has centered on the security of medical devices, as researchers expose vulnerabilities in equipment that could put patients’ health and potentially their lives at risk.