At the Cross-Roads of Health Policy and Information Technology - Cybersecurity and Healthcare Data: What Executives and Policy Makers Need to Know Event Held in Arlington


Department of Health Administration and Policy Partner with Healthcare Technology Network (HealthTechNet) and Arlington Forward to Host a Successful Event.

The cybersecurity event provided attendees with networking opportunities, a keynote presentation, and a panel of cybersecurity experts discussing the top concerns in the federal, state, and private sectors. 

Cyberattacks have become a pervasive threat in the health care industry. As more hospitals, clinics, and other health care organizations rely on technology for storing confidential medical records and delivering patient care, cyberattacks can jeopardize the safety and health of millions of individuals, making cybersecurity a priority for protecting public health.

As leaders in health administration, policy, and informatics, Mason’s Department of Health Administration and Policy (HAP) partnered with Healthcare Technology Network (HealthTechNet) and Arlington Forward to address this important issue and help professionals learn about the latest cybersecurity concerns in health care—and what to do about it.

On September 23, information technology (IT), cybersecurity, and health care professionals across the DMV region gathered in Mason's Van Metre Hall in Arlington, Virginia, for “Cybersecurity and Healthcare Data: What Executives and Policy Makers Need to Know,” hosted by HAP, HealthTechNet, and Arlington Forward.

"It was a pleasure to moderate this panel of experts," said Alison Cuellar, HAP professor and the event moderator. "Cybersecurity in health care has become hugely important. As we learned from our panelists, it's more than a data security issue; for providers, it can mean patient safety, too. And the state, federal, and private partners are working to address this important challenge."

Connecting, Collaborating, and Gaining Insight from Leading Cybersecurity Experts 

The event offered attendees a valuable opportunity to network with a wide range of professionals dedicated to improving cybersecurity practices in their organizations. More than 100 professionals registered for the event.

PJ Maddox, HAP department chair, welcomed attendees and noted the significance of partnering with like-minded organizations to create an event where professionals can connect, collaborate, and gain insight from leading cybersecurity experts.  

Keynote speaker Robert Wood, chief information security officer at Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, spoke about simplifying cybersecurity processes throughout his career and encouraged attendees to be flexible and adaptable to meet the fast-paced changes in cybersecurity successfully.

The panel provided a robust conversation on the public and private sectors' cybersecurity concerns. Alison Cuellar guided the discussion regarding current threats through the unique lens of each panelist, resulting in a well-rounded perspective on how cybersecurity affects all areas of health care and individual citizens.

Top Cybersecurity Concerns for Federal, State, and Private Sectors 

John Riggi, senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk at the American Hospital Association, spoke on how the pandemic created vulnerabilities at hospitals throughout the country and the move to increased telehealth delivery created new opportunities for hackers to take advantage of weaknesses in cybersecurity – resulting in security breaches that affected millions of patients.

John Guerriero, a senior policy analyst in Homeland Security & Public Safety at the National Governors Association, discussed how cyberattacks affect the public’s trust in state government and the state executives’ focus on policies that protect patient data. 

Looking to the future, Melina Scotto, chief information and security officer at General Dynamics Information Technology, focused her discussion on how private sectors can be proactive in cybersecurity by investing in educational pathways for students to become experts in cybersecurity engineering.

What's Next for HAP, Arlington Forward, and HealthTechNet

The event was one in a series of seminars on the most pressing issues at the intersection of information technology and health care.

"At HealthTechNet, we are proud of our growing collaboration with George Mason University and its Department of Health Administration and Policy," said Jim Oakes of HealthTechNet and adjunct faculty at Mason. "Several HAP faculty members were instrumental in the growth of HealthTechNet over twenty years ago, and we are grateful for their ongoing support and contributions to our programs. We are delighted to have put on this joint program and look forward to working together in the future."