Once again health care institutions find themselves behind the technology curve. The latest challenge: protecting themselves from computer viruses that can quickly steal patient information.

Clinicians took years to move to electronic health record (EHR) systems, many doing so only because the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) made the migration necessary.

In a sense, the EHR mandate has made it easier for the latest viruses, known as "ransomware," to gather private information, since virtually all patient information is now digitally stored.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.