In The Know

Cyber Security Summary – May 2017

Posted by Julia Foster on June 16, 2017 in Blog, News

Cyber Security Summary –  May 2017

In the cyber security world, May was an extremely eventful month due to the largest ransomware attack to date, occurring worldwide. Luckily, this outbreak only had minimal effects on the United States healthcare industry. For cyber security in the US healthcare industry, May turned out to be a fairly average month in terms of total breaches, but extremely high when it comes to the amount of records compromise. Throughout May there were approximately 30 healthcare breaches and 900,000 records compromised.* Some major cyber security breaches included the global WannaCry ransomware outbreak, TheDarkOverlord stealing (more) health records and a simple URL change exposing personal information.


From the Beginning of the Year:

Since the beginning of 2017 through May 2017, there have been 724 data breaches and nearly 11 million records compromised. The medical/healthcare industry accounts for 23% of records compromised, with nearly 2.5 million records, and 22% of breaches with 159 breaches.*

Major Cyber Security Activity


The WannaCry outbreak was the largest ransomware attack to date! Over the course of one weekend the virus infected approximately 200,000 computer systems in 150 different countries. The ransomware targeted vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows computers. Britain’s National Health System runs on Windows XP making its hospitals one of WannaCry’s largest victims.  Over 40 U.K. hospitals’ systems were paralyzed by the attack.  While the WannaCry attack did not hit healthcare systems in the US as hard, it was reported that numerous US medical devices were infected.

Although the attack effected so many different computer systems it is reported that the hackers only made $50,000. Which is a rather small amount for the high quantity of systems they took control of (for reference in 2016 a hospital in Hollywood paid $17,000 to a hacker to release one system.) Luckily, the attack was stopped by a hacker group known as “Shadow Brokers” and any new waves of WannaCry are not as harmful as the original.

TheDarkOverlord….. is back

The hacker know as, TheDarkOverlord is back.  This particular hacker or hacker group (it is still unknown if TheDarkOverlord is working alone or as a group), who is responsible for numerous other healthcare attacks including the breach of 9.3 million records from a health insurer, stole and released 180,000 patient healthcare records. These records were stolen from a New York based dentist, California’s OC Gastrocare and a Surgery Center in Florida. In TheDarkOverlord fashion, these records were made accessible to the public on Twitter. The database of records contained information such as medical conditions, insurer details, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and payment information.  TheDarkOverlord does not only specialize in extorting healthcare organizations, they are credited for leaking the newest season of Netflix’s show, Orange is the New Black.

A Simple URL Change

A glitch in a large healthcare organization’s online patient portal was giving unauthorized access to patient information with a simple change of a URL.  While this problem was reported in April 2017, it was not entirely fixed until May.  In April a patient portal user reported that when looking at their personal health records, they were able to access other’s records without a username or password by changing a number is the web address.  When accessing these records users could see, names, birthdates, addresses and information that may point to specific diseases. Once the issue was brought to light the organization immediately shut down the patient portal and corrected the problem.

*Values are approximate, based from a report release on June 6th, 2017 by the Identity Theft Resource Center



April 2017 Cyber Security Summary

Posted by Julia Foster on May 4, 2017 in Blog

April 17 CoverApril 2017 Cyber Security Summary

After the crazy month of March, the cyber security world seemed to settle down a little bit in April. April consisted of 21 total healthcare breaches and 122,877 records compromised which included a stolen laptop, a stolen vehicle, and a ransomware attack.

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Since the beginning of the year:

So far 2017 has had 558 total data breaches and almost 10 million records compromised! The healthcare industry has accounted for around 23% of those with 126 healthcare breaches and around 1.5 million records!


Some notable attacks included:

Stolen Laptop

A large health system in Rhode Island has notified over 20,000 patients of compromised personal information. The information was access and from an unprotected laptop that was stolen from an employee’s car. The laptop was used to store emails that may have contained patient information including names, medical record numbers, demographic information, and prescribed medications. At this time, there is no indication that the information has been used by the hackers.

Ransomware Attack

Last month, a small practice in Kentucky was attacked by cyber criminals. Their system was placed under a ransomware attack which resulted in their patient’s ePHI being encrypted. Almost 20,000 patient’s records were encrypted and inaccessible, but after two days of system downtime, the practice was able to recover the encrypted data from backups. Luckily, the practice did not have to pay the ransom that the hackers were demanding since the system was backed up.

Stolen Vehicle

In Montana, a health screening provider had to notify over 15,000 patients of a data breach after a facility owned vehicle was stolen on the way to a health fair. The stolen vehicle contained a flash drive which contained demographic information of health fair participants. Although there is no evidence of the information being misused, the organization offered a credit monitoring service to those affected.

growing your business



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Egg-stremely, Egg-cellent ICD-10 Codes for Easter

Posted by Julia Foster on April 14, 2017 in Blog

Spring brings Easter and like most holidays there are ICD-10 for the occasion, keep an eye out for these codes:

Egg #2R73.9- Hyperglycemia, unspecified
You might be needing this code after eating an Easter basket full of chocolate and  jelly beans.


Egg #3W01.0XXA- Fall on same level from slipping, tripping and stumbling
One of the greatest Easter pastimes is egg hunts.  Be careful, you don’t slip, trip or stumble while looking for the golden egg.


Egg #1

F40.218- Animal type phobia
Face it, kids aren’t the only ones afraid of the giant bunny at the mall.


Egg #5

Z91.012- Allergy to eggs
If you didn’t know it before, you might discover this allergy.


Egg #4

W61.33XA- Pecked by chicken
Baby animals, including chicks, are icons of Easter.


March 2017 Cyber Security Summary

Posted by Julia Foster on April 6, 2017 in Blog


March 17 Cover

March 2017 Cyber Security Summary

March has been the most eventful month for healthcare cyber security since the beginning of the year. With 27 individual breaches, the number of records compromised in March was more than triple the number of records compromised in January and February combined! Some of the most notable breaches include a former employee stealing records, a ransomware attack, and a phishing scam.

What Happened in March

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Cyber Security Breaches in 2017:

So far in 2017, there have been 410 total data breaches, and 99 of those have been healthcare related. There have been 6,862,337 total records compromised this year, with 22% of them being in the healthcare industry.

Notable breaches in March:

2017 Largest Data Breach
With almost 700,000 records compromised, a Kentucky healthcare facility had the largest healthcare data breach this year. The breach occurred when a former employee obtained, without authorization, patient information on an encrypted CD, and encrypted USB drive. The information on the drive included names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and insurance information. The investigation indicates that she “intended to use these records to assist in the development of a computer-based tool for an outside business interest which had never been disclosed to the hospital.”

Ransomware Attack
A medical center in Austin notified nearly 300,000 of their patients of a data breach incident that took place at their facility. The breach was caused by a ransomware attack on the system, luckily the attack was detected early, so it did not cause too much harm to the system. However, the hackers still had the potential to access names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security information and medical information. Many times these types of attacks are not intended to misuse the patient information, but to lock the hospital out and force them to pay a ransom to regain access. The medical center still decided to provide identity theft monitoring services as an extra caution for patients.

‘Phishy’ Emails
A number of employee email accounts were compromised at a hospital in Washington due to a phishing attack. Phishing emails are sent in attempt to trick users into revealing sensitive information. In this case, the hackers were able to gain access to over 80,000 patient’s information. The attack was not realized for more than seven weeks after it occurred giving the attackers lots of time to access or steal information. The hospital has notified the patients who were affected and is also taking steps to reeducate their employees on the dangers of phishing emails.


March Cyber Security Infographic


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Health Information Professional (HIP) ‘Fill in the Code’ Challenge

Posted by Julia Foster on March 24, 2017 in Blog, News

HIP Week Fill in the Code Challenge- Blog Banner

Health Information Professionals Week is March 26th – April 1st, 2017! In honor of HIP week, Excite Health Partners will be hosting HIP Week ‘Fill in the Code’ Challenge. Enter each day for your chance to win a $10 gift card or the grand prize, pictured below!

-The Details-Each week day during HIP Week at 3:00 pm (EST), we will post a joke on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages with one word missing.  The missing word will be replaced with an ICD-10 code. You can participate by telling us what the missing word is. Each daily winner will receive a $10 gift card to their choice of Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks or Panera Bread. All correct answers will be submitted into a drawing for the daily prize and all daily entries will be combined for the grand prize drawing. The grand prize winner will be selected April 3rd at 3:00 pm EST.



How to enter & the rules

To enter the contest message us your answer. Answers must be sent before the following day at 3:00 pm EST when the next joke is posted.  You may only answer once a day, but you can receive up to 3 additional daily entries by tagging friends in daily posts (1 entry per tagged friend and the same friend cannot be tagged more than once).  Make sure you like our Facebook page, following us on Twitter and follow us on Instagram. Good Luck! Email if you have any questions!



The Grand Prize


The grand prize, which is pictured above, includes a Vera Bradley beach tote,  Kate Spade sticky note set, a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, beach towel, Essie spring mini collect, Starbucks tumbler, light blue Rtic tumbler and more!

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February 2017 Cyber Security Summary

Posted by Julia Foster on March 8, 2017 in Blog, News

Feb Cyber Security

February 2017 Cyber Security Summary

February consisted of a ransom attack, a break-in and a breach from inside the system, all which contributed to 21 total healthcare breaches and nearly 80,000 records compromised.

feb graph

Since the beginning of the year:

There have been 1,288,302 million total records compromised since the beginning of 2017, and over half of them have been healthcare records. Of the 279 total data breaches, 72 of them have occurred in the healthcare field.

February’s most notable healthcare breaches:

The Internal Employees
A pair of patient transporters accessed over 3,000 medical records from a university-based hospital in Tennessee. The two employees looked at 3,247 medical records between May 2015 and December 2016. They were able to see personal information such as demographics, medical record numbers, and social security numbers. As of now, there is no evidence that the information was downloaded or printed. However, the medical center is still taking proper precautions and sending letters to patients notifying them of the breach.

Appointment System
A Georgia-based health system fell victim to a ransomware attack that included almost 80,000 patients’ records. The information was accessed through the system’s appointment software “Waits and Delays.” The hackers were able to remove the appointments database and then demanded a ransom to restore the site. It is not evident if the health system paid it or not. The information stolen included names, dates of birth, contact information and appointment information. Since becoming aware of the breach, the hospital has notified all of the patients who were affected by the breach and encouraged them to keep an eye on their financial statements and credit reports.

Break In
7,000 patient records were stolen during a break-in at a healthcare provider’s office in Kansas. The break-in had occurred at approximately 5:00 am before the facility opened. The intruder gained access by breaking a window and stole a desktop computer and a printer. The computer contained many non-encrypted appointment notes dating back to 2002 and 2003. The information in the notes varied, but some consisted of names, dates of birth and diagnoses and orders.

Feb Infographic

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Health Information Professionals (HIP) Week 2017 – March 26th-April 1st

Posted by Julia Foster on March 6, 2017 in Blog

Happy Health Information Professionals Week! Header

Health Information Professionals (HIP) Week 2017 – March 26th-April 1st

2017 marks the 27th annual Health Information Professionals (HIP) week. This week, which according to, “is a showcase for the thousands of health information management (HIM) professionals who perform their duties masterfully throughout the year,” will be held March 26th, 2017- April 1st, 2017.

This week is sponsored by The American Health Information Association (AHIMA).  This year’s theme will be “Leading the way to quality data.” To celebrate this week Excite Health Partners will be hosting the HIP Week ‘Fill in the Code’ Challenge, participate for your chance to win 1 of 5 daily prizes and/or the grand prize!


5 Topics & Launches from HIMSS17

Posted by Julia Foster on March 3, 2017 in Blog

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5 Topics & Launches from HIMSS17

The hustle and bustle of over 40,000 attendees, 1,200 vendors and 300 sessions at HIMSS17 ended just last week.  With everything going on there is a chance you may have missed something, here are five topics and launches from HIMSS17.


While there were many topics being discussed at the 4-day event, attendees have had a hard time pinpointing what issues dominated the conference.  Just like the world of HIT, HIMSS17 had a lot going, here is what some of the buzz was all about:

  1. Cybersecurity
    As we know, security breaches in the healthcare industry are in the headlines every day making it a no-brainer this would be a hot topic at the conference. HIMSS felt cybersecurity was so important they dedicated a full-day event, the Cybersecurity Forum, to the topic.  While cybersecurity has been a hot topic for a couple of years, this year the conversations turned to medical devices.  According to Marty Edwards, director of the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team at the Department of Homeland Security “It is only a matter of time before we see a major event affecting patients involving medical device cybersecurity.”
  1. Interoperability
    Interoperability was a huge focus at last year’s conference, while cybersecurity seemed to be bigger this year, interoperability was still a primary focus for many attendees, vendors, and speakers. While significant progress has been made regarding Interoperability, it may not be happening as quickly as we would all have liked. HIMSS17 left us feeling optimistic; progress is still coming and at a steady rate!
  1. Big Data and Analytics
    According to Paul Black, CEO of Allscripts, “I expected and saw the spotlight on the transformation of Big Data into more meaningful, usable analytics.” The discussion revolved a lot around how to manage patient responsibility, connectivity to communication platforms, and even interventions when necessary.
  1. Value-Based Care
    HIT professionals were looking for tools and solutions to operationalize value-based care and payments. They were also looking for ways to increase patient engagement and enhance the patient experience.
  1. Telehealth
    There is no doubt telehealth is up and coming.  Many forces are driving the expanded use of telehealth services including the reduction of the spread of contagious viruses/sicknesses, access for rural communities, and cost reduction.


With so many Health IT professionals under the same roof, there is no better place than HIMSS to launch or demo a new product. There were quite a few product launches and demos throughout the show, here are some of our favorites:

  1. App Orchard- Epic
    The highly-anticipated launch of App Orchard, Epic’s app store, finally happened at HIMSS17.  According to Epic’s website “The App Orchard is where developers can learn about Epic’s APIs and list their apps for Epic community members to explore and access.”
  1. Healthy Hospital- McKesson
    McKesson had lots of new products to demo during the show, one of those being Healthy Hospital.  According to a press release, “Healthy Hospital is a new program that uses advanced analytics to help providers benchmark key revenue cycle metrics, and identify areas where they can accelerate or otherwise improve financial performance.”
  1. Touchstone-Medisolv
    Touchstone, which is a comprehensive benchmarking software tool that can be utilized by hospitals and physicians for the measurement of quality and safety, will be available early summer.  Touchstone, according to, is  “the first benchmarking software of its kind for hospital eCQMs in the cloud,” will be available early summer
  1. DS8100-HC series scanners AND TC51-HC mobile computers- Zebra Technologies
    Zebra Technologies released scanners and mobile computers that according to a press release “can foster clinical collaboration for staffers and drive better operational efficiencies, while also supporting the five rights of medication administration to help increase patient safety.”
  1. ClaimStaker- Alpha II
    Alpha II released ClaimStaker, a claims editing software.  According to their site, “ClaimStaker, is the most comprehensive clinical claim and encounter scrubbing tool available today.”

HIMSS BLog graphic


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Cyber Security Summary – January 2017

Posted by Amanda Harner on February 9, 2017 in Blog, News


As far as healthcare security is concerned, 2017 is off to a pretty good start. Although there were 24 data breaches that occurred in January, 151,970 records were compromised. Considering the monthly average of records compromised in 2016 was over a million, things are going pretty well! Notable breaches last month included a laptop stolen from a physician’s car, and two system hacks.

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Old Website

A California healthcare system, that includes 6 hospitals, was hacked causing over 10,000 patient’s record to be exposed. In October 2015, an unauthorized user hacked into a website that was no longer in use. The hack was not discovered by authorities until last month when officials were notified. Dates of birth, medical records and phone numbers were among the information stolen. Since the discovery, the health system has taken proper measurements to secure its website and have provided the patients who were affected with free credit monitoring services for a year.


Stolen Laptop

A laptop which contained protected health information of over 3,500 patients of a children’s hospital in California, was stolen from a physician’s locked car. The computer, which was stolen in October was password protected but was not “encrypted to current institutional standards”. An investigation was conducted and it is believed that all of the information was erased from device without any patient data being accessed. The hospital is taking extra caution and sending letters to notify the thousands of patients.


System Hack

Nearly 5,000 patients were affected when the system of a pain management provider was hacked. The provider has offices in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania that were hurt by the attack. Although the breach was discovered in November, officials are unaware how long hackers had access to information. The investigation revealed that compromised information ranged from social security numbers and Medicare numbers to medical and demographic information. Since the attack, the provider conducted a review of its security processes, which revealed a number of areas that needed improvement. It has since been enhanced to prevent any future attacks.

cyber security recap January 2017 (3)

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2016 Cyber Security Summary

Posted by Julia Foster on January 13, 2017 in Blog


2016 review - cover
2016 Cyber Security Summary

2016 kept everyone in the healthcare industry on their toes having a record high number of data breaches! Luckily, the number of compromised records dropped drastically in comparison to 2015. However, one trend that was widely recognized was the rise of ransomware attacks. Although not a new method, ransomware is quickly gaining popularity and becoming a huge issue in the cybersecurity world. Read below to see a recap of 2016’s most impactful data breaches!

2016 Review - table

Top 5 Most Notable Breaches in 2016:

The Dark Net Sale
The largest and probably most notable data breach was released in June. The hacker, who goes by the name of TheDarkLord, listed 4 different databases for sale on TheRealDeal market (a dark net source). The databases were being sold for $100,000, $200,000 $400,000, and $485,000 and included names, birthdates, social security numbers, addresses, cell phone numbers, and medical history. Ransomware attacks can put providers in a tricky situation because even if the ransom is paid, they are not guaranteed to get their information back.

Held at Ransom
The first ransomware attack of the year occurred in February at a hospital in California. The hackers were able to lock the system cutting off access to hospital employees. During this time they had to resort to handwritten documentation and prescriptions instead of any electronic communication. The hospital was forced to pay the hackers 40 bitcoins (a type of digital currency operating independently of a central bank) or $17,000 to regain access. There is no evidence that any records were actually accessed during the lockout, but the hospital still took proper precautions.

The Food Court
Another large breach in 2016 consisted of 3.7 million records stolen from an Arizona health system in August. The hackers were able to gain access to a payment processing system in some food and beverage areas throughout their facilities. The stolen information included names, birthdates, social security numbers, credit card information, and health insurance information.

One of the most unique data breaches of 2016 was linked to a radical right-wing Ukrainian political group. In July, the group posted a screenshot of information that they compromised from a urology group based out of Ohio to Twitter and uploaded half a million records to a Google cloud-based storage area. The information posted included names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdates, insurance ID’s and diagnoses. When asked the group stated that the motive was political, however, this specific urology group did not have anything to do with the issues.

ID Cards
In August, a company based out of New York that provides ID cards for health plans for big names such as Blue Cross Blue Shield and Health Now was involved in a data breach that consisted of almost 3.5 million records compromised. Information accessed consisted of names, dates of birth, ID numbers, dependents’ names and provider names. The hacker was able to gain unauthorized access to a server which held all of the private information.

The Semi-Truck
In December, almost half a million records were subject to exposure not because of a security attack, but rather a semi-truck. In Fort Myers, FL a truck driver, transporting a load of old paper medical records failed to securely lock the door on his truck, causing the medical records to fall from the vehicle and blow around. It took 3 days for officials to find all of the medical records that they could, however, not all were accounted for. There was no evidence that any information had been improperly used so far, but the information exposed consisted of everything from addresses and medical history to social security and financial information.


2016 review - infographic

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