Physicians invited to 'game' their way to knowledge about information security

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) wants to break down barriers that may prevent effective use of technology at the physician practice level. To that end, ONC announced on Sept. 12 the availability of an information security training module based on a gaming format.

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Physicians can use the module to learn how to protect electronic health information and avoid security breaches.

“CyberSecure: Your Medical Practice” requires users to respond to privacy and security challenges often faced in a typical small medical practice, according to ONC.

Users choosing the right response earn points and see their virtual medical practices flourish, but users making the wrong security decisions can hurt their virtual practices.

[See also: ONC project aimed at helping clinicians protect health information on mobile devices]

ONC developed the security training module with the Regional Extension Center Program's privacy and security community of practice. Extension centers in every state bring technical assistance to physicians and small practices to adopt EHRs and become meaningful users, including privacy and security procedures.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established standards for the use and disclosure of personally identifiable health information and privacy rights for individuals.

In addition, to demonstrate meaningful use of EHRs providers must perform a security risk analysis or reassessment and correct any weaknesses identified during the risk analysis, and document any changes or corrections.

The security training module is one of several resources ONC provides, including a security risk-assessment tool, a guide for physicians on evaluating security practices, a cyber-security checklist, and HIPAA summary and guide.

ONC offers a disclaimer on the game module, stating, "It is not an exhaustive representation of all the privacy and security issues a practice may encounter." The information contained in the game is not intended as legal advice.

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