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25 Aug 2018

23rd Jul 2018

Additional safeguard to ensure safety and confidentiality of patient data 

            The National Healthcare Group (NHG) and National University Health System (NUHS) have completed the implementation of temporary Internet Surfing Separation (ISS) from 23 July 2018, as part of the additional measures to tighten the security of IT systems across all public healthcare institutions. This follows SingHealth’s implementation of ISS from 20 July 2018, in response to the major unprecedented cyberattack on its IT system. 
2.         Public healthcare institutions will work to ensure that patient safety and clinical care are not compromised. There will be some inconvenience for patients and healthcare staff, as a result of the unavailability of some IT system connections that require the internet. We seek the understanding of patients and the public as our teams work through the issues that arise on the ground. 
3.         The move to temporarily impose ISS is part of the containment and monitoring measures implemented to further protect patient data against emerging forms of cyber threats. Other measures that have since been put in place include additional controls on workstations and servers, reset of user and systems accounts, and installation of additional system monitoring controls on IT systems.
Current Situation
4.         Our public healthcare institutions rely on accessing other systems through the internet for delivery of some healthcare services. These include reading of diagnostic reports from laboratories, submission and retrieval of results from screening databases, birth and death registration, referrals to our private sector partners, video consultation and tele-rehabilitation, and the payments and claims systems. Some of our public healthcare institutions, including the polyclinics and community hospitals, have been affected by this. As a result, patients may experience a longer wait for consultations and to receive their test results, as well as delays in checking their MediSave accounts or making their claims. They may have to be re-directed through a different process from the usual route. 
5.         Our healthcare staff are doing their best to assist our patients, and to minimise disruptions in operations, while ensuring safe care for our patients. The technical teams are also on the ground to address issues that have arisen. Interim alternatives are being deployed to departments requiring internet access, including separate shared workstations for connection to the internet where needed for the staff’s work. 
6.         The decision to impose ISS is part of the effort of the public healthcare family to strengthen its IT systems against evolving cyber security threats, and more importantly, to safeguard the confidentiality of our patients’ data. We would like to assure all patients that their safety and care are our priority, and we will work to ensure that these are not compromised as a result of the implementation of ISS and various security measures. 

Category: Press Releases