Consortium News

  • 29 Jun 2016 10:10 AM | Anonymous

    Hacker Advertises Slew of Alleged Healthcare Organization Records

    Written by  JOSEPH COX,  motherboard June 26, 2016 // 05:24 PM EST

    A hacker is advertising hundreds of thousands of alleged records from healthcare organizations on a dark web marketplace, including social security and insurance policy numbers.

    The data could be used for anything from getting lines of credit to opening bank accounts to carrying out loan fraud and much more, the hacker selling the data, who goes by the handle "thedarkoverlord," told Motherboard.

    News site Deep Dot Web first reported the news on Saturday. The breaches supposedly come from three different healthcare organizations: one in Farmington, Missouri with 48,000 records; another in Atlanta, Georgia with 397,000 entries, and the third in the Central/Midwest US with 210,000 records. Thedarkoverlord has decided to not name the organizations, as he has threatened each with a ransom demand.

    “A modest amount compared to the damage that will be caused to the organizations when I decide to publicly leak the victims,” thedarkoverlord said, although he claims to have already sold $100,000 worth of records from the Georgia dump. (The hacker declined to provide his or her gender, so for ease of reading Motherboard will just refer to the hacker as “him.”)

    “Someone wanted to buy all the Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance records specifically,” he said.

    Motherboard was provided with a sample of just under 30 patient records from the alleged Georgia dump. The vast majority of phone numbers went through to the correct person or family home, and one individual confirmed the rest of their details, although the physical address was out of date. Most of those persons contacted from the sample declined to be interviewed.

    Included within the dumps are alleged social security numbers, full names, physical addresses, dates of birth, and insurance information, such as policy identification numbers.

    The hacker claims he obtained each database in roughly the same way each time via an unknown vulnerability in remote desktop protocol, which allows (usually) authorised parties to control computers for things such as tech support. From here, thedarkoverlord claims he moved throughout the network “until I got to the juicy machines running their electronic health systems.”

    Thedarkoverlord is selling the Georgia dump for just over 643 bitcoins, or around $411,000. The hacker expects people to pay this price, he said. The others are being sold for around $100,000 and $205,000 each, and all are listed on the Real Deal marketplace, which has become a particularly popular hub for stolen data.

  • 01 Jun 2016 1:47 PM | Anonymous

    The Consortium would like to thank two of our long-standing Board Members, who are stepping down this month after many years of service to the Consortium.

    David SmithDavid P. Smith of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, is our longest standing Board Member, having begun in 1988.  Throughout his career, David has been responsible for analytical, technical, and research support for MHA’s public policy advocacy regarding health care performance measurement, clinical and health data, health economics, and health information technology.  He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts e-Health Collaborative as well as on the Board of the Consortium.

    John H. Strauss, MD, of the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership, also steps down from our Board of Directors after a long stint.  Dr. Strauss led the design and implementation of the statewide child psychiatry access and consultation project known as the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project (MCPAP), which has become the model for similar programs in over 20 other states.

    The Consortium would like to heartily thank both David and John for your many years of service to our members.  Enjoy what the future holds for you!  We wish you the best.


  • 19 May 2016 9:39 AM | Anonymous

    Retrieved from May 18, 2016

    Researcher at the Yale School of Medicine have deployed a new cloud-based system that enables them to pull patient electronic health records from across multiple healthcare organizations and to synchronize that data.

    The system, called Hugo, was developed in a partnership between Yale-New Haven Health System and health information exchange vendor Stella Technology. Hugo is designed to allow patients to gather all their health-related data for healthcare research studies.

    The platform is currently being tested to ensure that the technology works well and to identify any areas that need improvement, according to Harlan Krumholz, MD, professor of internal medicine at Yale-New Haven and one of the developers of Hugo. While Hugo is not yet available outside of Yale’s studies/testing environment, they are laying the foundation for broader release and uses.

    “Our first studies with Hugo are providing real-world experience and focus on the ability of people to have Hugo fetch their data and sync it securely with a research database,” says Krumholz. “Ultimately, Hugo is about empowering people with their health data, putting them in a position to leverage it, and making partnerships possible for sharing data with researchers and others. But, the premise is that people should be in a position to use their data for their own benefits and, if they choose, for the benefit of others.”

    Patients sign up for Hugo and use a portal/password to verify their identity to link with EHRs that have their records. Then, with their permission, the platform harmonizes the data from different sources providing the ability to share it with researchers.

    “Unless we, as researchers and clinicians, partner with our patients and find a way to give them the ability to exercise their federal right to acquire their own data and share it, then we’re not going to make progress,” says Krumholz. “This is a fundamental shift in the way we think about research.”

    Yale-New Haven itself has launched a study that will rely on Hugo. The study, partially funded by a Yale Clinical and Translational Science Award grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health, is looking to see if a central repository of patient EHRs, such as Hugo, can be used to reduce readmissions and post-discharge emergency department utilization.

    “Yale, like every other providers, has patients each day that are coming from other places and it’s not uncommon to have missing records,” says Krumholz. "Yale- New Haven’s study is looking to see if a repository such as Hugo can provide a more complete view of a patient, allowing a provider to improve care and cut down on readmissions.

    “Hugo is a platform where people can pull their data and have it organized, harmonized, curated and ready for use,”
    he adds. “They’re in a position where they can use it for their own purposes but also participate in studies as full partners. My hope is that this becomes a platform that is co-created with the people who use it.”

    Patients can access Hugo from their mobile devices, according to Krumholz, who describes the platform as a next-generation personal health record that is auto-populated and updated daily from EHRs. “At this point, we are focusing on systems that are compliant with federal standards that provide for people to view, download and transmit their electronic records,” says Krumholz.

    In addition to EHR data, he reveals that Hugo will ultimately allow participants to contribute information from wearable devices and sensors as part of subsequent development phases.

    According to Krumholz, Stella helped develop the software. “We went with a group that we think is arguably the best, if not one of the best in the country, building connected healthcare networks,” he says. “We’ll be going live soon in a controlled fashion in order to test every aspect of the software.”

    The goal of the study is to thoroughly evaluate the performance of the software and the user experience. “We are starting with people locally before we make it available to others. We are moving quickly, but responsibly,” concludes Krumholz.

    Besides the Yale School of Medicine, partners on the study include the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, Yale Medical Group, as well as Yale-New Haven Hospital.

  • 29 Apr 2016 3:38 PM | Denny Brennan (Administrator)

    Jessica Bartlett, Reporter, Boston Business Journal, April 29,2016

    A Supreme Court ruling has jeopardized Massachusetts' ability to pull data from a large population of medical insurers, threatening a key tool used by the state as it increasingly relies on health care pricing and treatment data to regulate one of the Bay State's largest and most important sectors.

    The U.S. Supreme Court decision, Gobeille vs Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, issued in March, stemmed from a complaint filed in Vermont. The ruling determined that employers who pay their own insurance claims, known as self-insured employers, weren’t required by law to share their claims data with the state. According to health care experts, the Supreme Court's decision also applies to all self-insured employers throughout the United States.


  • 28 Apr 2016 8:27 AM | Anonymous

    Jayne O'Donnell, USA TODAY 8:48 p.m. EDT April 27, 2016

    Dr. Neel Shah, Costs of Care - former Eliot Stone internHuge variations exist in the prices of some of the most common medical procedures across state lines, according to a report major insurers released Wednesday, but some experts say the data is of little use to consumers who rarely know what they owe until the bills arrive.

    The insurer-funded Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) won’t disclose which hospitals or doctors are the high-price culprits and instead are releasing how much states' average prices differ from national average.

    California, for example, has average prices that are the same as the U.S. averages for dozens of the most common procedures, including pregnancy ultrasounds and cataract surgery. But, which compiles prices in 10 metro areas using data from consumers, doctors and hospitals and its own staff members' research, finds a huge price disparity within a 100-mile radius of San Francisco for some procedures.

    The cash price for a lower-back MRI without dye ranges from $475 at the Castro Valley Open MRI to a whopping $6,221 at the University of California, San Francisco at Mt. Zion. Patients pre-paying or paying on the day of service at UCSF, however, get 40% off.

    Some say HCCI's transparency effort doesn’t go nearly far enough now that consumers are paying for so much of procedure costs out of pocket given high deductible plans and cost sharing. Average state prices — and how they compare to national averages — may not be enough as cost transparency becomes a hot topic in state legislatures and in Washington.

    "Knowing the average cost in your own town is useful if you’re a researcher, maybe, but it doesn't help consumers make decisions," says David Vivero, founder of, a physician search tool. "You still have to call 10 doctors." The new data should at least alert consumers in states such as Maine, Virginia, North Carolina and New Mexico that they need to shop around as prices are far higher than the national average.

    HCCI has claims data representing about 25% of the commercial market and includes most major insurers except Blue Cross Blue Shield, which releases its own data. HCCI couldn't release the doctor or hospital-specific prices consumers could expect to pay because of antitrust issues, says HCCi executive director David Newman. Even though HCCI is independent of insurance companies, Newman says it would still need to partner with a state to release prices for different facilities., a consumer site operated by HCCI, gives average state prices for more than 300 procedures.

    Read the full article at USA Today

    In Massachusetts, health cost transparency is the law. Since early last year, hospitals and doctors were given 48 hours to provide detailed pricing estimates to consumers who ask. But adherence has been challenging and Neel Shah, a Boston obstetrician and gynecologist who is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, says the law set off a scramble across the state as many hospitals had to figure out how to quickly answer patient questions.

    Some other states require some level of transparency, including New Hampshire, California, Minnesota and New Jersey.

    For insurers to release more data would require them to disclose more clearly how their own deals with health care providers leave some consumers paying several hundred or thousands of dollars out of pocket for some procedures.

    One example of the problem: Colonoscopies that can cost 50 to 100% more just because it's done at a hospital rather than an independent surgery center.

    "Everyone has to produce the same work product," says Fred Rosenberg, a Chicago gastroenterologist who is president of the Digestive Health Physicians Association. "The more patients become more knowledgeable consumers of medical care, the more we can get these places to be upfront about their prices."

    Read the full article at USA Today

  • 27 Apr 2016 1:22 PM | Denny Brennan (Administrator)

    The Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative’s Micky Tripathi shares his perspectives on the promise and pitfalls of working with FHIR.


  • 20 Apr 2016 1:40 PM | Denny Brennan (Administrator)

    The 2016 Security 500 benchmark survey is now open!

    Gain metrics and insight into where your enterprise security stands, and gain a space on the Security 500 Rankings, which will be published in the November 2016 issue of Security magazine.

    Take the survey here.

  • 19 Apr 2016 1:52 PM | Denny Brennan (Administrator)

    A significant portion of EHRs are missing data, according to a study published in Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA).


  • 15 Apr 2016 9:23 AM | Denny Brennan (Administrator)

    A new report – State of the State: Reducing Readmissions in Massachusetts – from MHA and Collaborative Healthcare Strategies finds that progress is being made both nationally and statewide in reducing the number of preventable hospital readmissions, although readmissions remain an ongoing challenge.


  • 13 Apr 2016 2:02 PM | Denny Brennan (Administrator)

    Dr. Larry Garber, Medical Director for Informatics at Reliant Medical Group, penned this response to the HHS request for an assessment of interoperability needed to support the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).


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