Federal ARPA-H seeks solutions on health care cybersecurity

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Federal researchers hope to bolster health care cybersecurity with new programs led by the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services oversees ARPA-H, which announced the new Digital Health Security (Digiheals) project to protect the U.S. health care system’s electronic infrastructure.

The project will seek proposals for “proven technology developed for national security” and adapt them to civilian health systems, networks, and devices, according to the ARPA-H announcement.

“The Digiheals project comes when the U.S. healthcare system urgently requires rigorous cybersecurity capabilities to protect patient privacy, safety, and lives,” ARPA-H Director Renee Wegrzyn, PhD, said in a news release. “Currently, off-the-shelf software tools fall short in detecting emerging cyberthreats and protecting our medical facilities, resulting in a technical gap we seek to bridge with this initiative.”

Additional details are posted at the website devoted to the federal government’s Scaling Health Applications Research for Everyone (SHARE) program.

It was unclear how new programs might align with other federal rules that require physicians, hospitals, and health care systems to protect computerized patient data. In November 2022, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Virginia) published “Cybersecurity is Patient Safety,” a policy options paper that outlined at least 16 different federal agencies with some jurisdiction over health care cybersecurity, but no single legislator or policy maker responsible for the issue overall.

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