IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital

Virus Warrior: He Keeps All 130,000 Hospital Machines Secure

We are IU Health

May 30, 2018

Whether it’s a ventilator or a vital signs monitor, a computer or a credit card machine in the hospital cafeteria, Mitch Parker and his team fight to keep them safe.

He works battling viruses for a health system -- but not the biological type.

Mitch Parker’s battle is against virtual viruses that – without Parker’s hardworking team -- could cripple computers, shut down crucial hospital machines and put patients at risk.

To say his job is critical care? That’s an understatement.

Whether it’s a ventilator or a vital signs monitor, a computer or a credit card machine in the hospital cafeteria, Mitch Parker and his team fight to keep them secure.

He came to IU Health in September of 2016 as executive director of information security and compliance, where he leads a team of 21 people dedicated to protecting the organization’s systems and data.

“Ultimately what we do is assess the risk, prioritize the risk and address it,” Parker says. “Our job is to make sure everything is safe before it ever gets out on the floor, make sure it’s secure while it’s on the floor and then make sure it’s wiped clean before it’s ever disposed of.”

Parker’s team is divided into four smaller groups, which include:

Cybersecurity operations: This team responds to any virus or ransom malware that tries to attack an IU Health machine.

Third party vendor risk management: All equipment purchased by IU Health that connects to the network is evaluated for risk by this team before being used.

Regulatory compliance: This team is responsible for making sure IU Health complies with the HIPAA security rule – national standards that protect an individual’s electronic personal health information -- and credit card processing rules.

Internal review: This team conducts IU Health’s own version of an internal audit, making sure its security controls are effective.

“Everything we do on the team is about the mission of the organization and we keep that in mind every day,” Parker says. “We do this because our patients depend on us.”

***

His love of computers started early, during a time when computers weren’t common.

It was 1984 when an 8-year-old Parker got his first computer – a Commodore 64 – for Christmas.

He played a lot of games on that computer and even tried to program it, using codes he found in the back of magazines.

By the time he was a teenager, Parker would find used computers, take them apart and build new ones. He got his first IBM as a teen, too, for $200.

Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, he went off to college to major in computer science at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

Parker went on to get an MS in information technology leadership from LaSalle University and an MBA from the Fox School of Business, Temple University.

He came to IU Health from Temple Health, where he served as chief information security officer for eight years.

More with Parker

Personal: He and his wife, Margie, have two children – 3-year-old twins Isabel and Grayson. The couple met – where else? On a computer, using an online dating site.

Fun fact: Parker helped write the portion of ELMS dealing with cybersecurity. He also is a popular presenter at conferences.

Bigger mission: “I want IU Health to be a national leader. If there is anything I’m most proud of it is the team and how it works well with so many other departments to carry out the organization’s mission.”

-- By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

Reach Benbow via email dbenbow@iuhealth.org or on Twitter @danabenbow.

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