The nation’s “most wired” hospitals are taking more aggressive privacy and security measures to protect patient data, as well as leveraging portals to better engage with patients as these organizations transition from volume-based to value-based care.

Those are among the results of the 17th annual HealthCare’s Most Wired Survey released on Thursday by the American Hospital Association’s Health Forum and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. Respondents answered questions about how their organizations are leveraging IT in the areas of infrastructure, business and administrative management, quality and safety, and clinical integration.

According to the survey, the top growth areas in security include privacy audit systems, provisioning systems, data loss prevention, single sign-on and identity management. When it comes to security, there are several actions that differentiate Most Wired hospitals: 

*96 percent of Most Wired organizations use intrusion detection systems compared to 85 percent of all respondents. Privacy audit systems (94 percent) and security incident event management (93 percent) are also widely used. 

*79 percent of Most Wired organizations conduct incident response exercises or tabletop tests annually, a high-level estimate of the current potential for success of a cybersecurity incident response plan, compared to 37 percent of all responding hospitals. 

*83 percent of Most Wired organizations report that hospital board oversight of risk management and reduction includes cybersecurity risk. 

“These hospitals are setting the bar for protection of patient data through discerning security measures,” said Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the AHA.

Patient engagement is another top priority for hospitals that were surveyed, who are leveraging patient portals to get patients actively involved in their own care. Taking advantage of the popularity of mobile devices, 89 percent of Most Wired organizations in the survey indicated that they offer access to their patient portals through a mobile app. In addition, 81 percent said they can communicate with patients via email or alerts in contrast to 63 percent of all respondents.

Also See: Gap Remains with Patient-Physician Online Communication

Other ways these organizations are improving their patient portals include: 

*67 percent of Most Wired hospitals offer the ability to incorporate patient-generated data. 

*63 percent offer self-management tools for chronic conditions. 

*60 percent offer patient-specific education in multiple languages. 

Respondents to the survey also said that the portal is a key enabler for achieving greater alignment between hospitals and physicians. For instance, in 84 percent of Most Wired organizations, physicians can view and exchange other facilities’ results in the portal compared with 63 percent of hospitals surveyed, while 76 percent use the portal and electronic health records to exchange results with other EHRs and health information exchanges compared to 56 percent of those surveyed.

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