Gippsland Health Alliance deflects EMR cyberattack following Azure upgrade

Gippsland Health Alliance deflects EMR cyberattack following Azure upgrade

Upgraded to Altera Digital Helath’s Sunrise EMR clinical suite, a cloud-based solution built in Microsoft Azure.

Credit: Dreamstime

Gippsland Health Alliance (GHA) has successfully retained control over its electronic medical records (EMR) data following a cyberattack, claiming its upgrade to Microsoft Azure safeguarded its systems. 

The west Victoria health provider revealed it was subjected to a sophisticated cyberattack that prevented access to a number of critical systems in 2019. 

However, GHA had recently moved its EMR systems onto Altera Digital Helath’s Sunrise EMR clinical suite, a cloud-based solution built in Azure, which it claims helped its resiliency. 

“While we had to disable connectivity to our EMR due to security reasons, it was ready the day we said we were ready to come back online,” Shearer explains. “And that was purely based on the fact that it was hosted in Azure and protected by the Azure infrastructure. 

Although the alliance was forced to quarantine some of its systems following the attack, there was no evidence of unauthorised access to patient data, GHA stressed. 

Altera Digital Health  – formally known as AllScripts – had earlier been tasked with upgrading the accessibility of GHA’s existing EMR system for clinicians, reducing its vulnerability to cyberattacks, increasing its resilience and achieving significant cost benefits. 

By moving its EMR system to the cloud and hosting it on a secure network, GHA gained access to Azure’s built-in firewalls and alerts that the support team at Altera Digital Health and Microsoft Azure can respond to. 

In the event of its primary EMR system going offline, GHA can have a backup system ready to go in a matter of hours, the health provider claimed. The data is also housed in Australia, it added.  

Based in Adelaide, the Australian branch of Altera first deployed the solution at Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH), which has more than 2,100 staff members. 

“We were looking for an organisation that could deliver all of the infrastructure, design and security as part of the solution,” said GHA CTO and CIO Adrian Shearer. 

The solution was originally deployed to accommodate approximately 300 registered users, but the alliance has since expanded its accessibility to around 800 users, with the flexibility to add more users.  

“The incremental uplift as we go has been seamless,” said Shearer. “So, from 300 concurrent users to 800, there’s been no impact on my team operationally to deliver that. They’ve just turned up the heat and expanded.” 

Deployed as a fully managed service, the Sunrise EMR clinical suite was bolstered with the implementation of a new scanning and document management capability. This enables hospitals to digitise old and new paper records from other connected health sites and ancillary services. 

Cancer care provider Icon Group was another health provider to recently migrate its IT environment onto Microsoft Azure’s cloud platform. 

Macquarie Cloud handled Icon’s migration to an Azure environment and provided ongoing architecture, network, security, and consumption reviews during the project. 

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