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Jared Jeffery’s Battle Against Cancer Fuels Fight for Health Data Security with healthKERI

May 6, 2024

Written by Malik Chambers

Civitas is proud to introduce new member healthKERI and its founding CEO, Jared Jeffery. After building a career in medical law, one medical diagnosis changed the trajectory of Jared’s life, leading him to devote his life to innovating the health cybersecurity landscape through his health care IT market research company, healthKERI. In a new interview with Civitas, Jared recounts his remarkable journey that began more than ten years ago.

Before healthKERI

Before leading healthKERI, Jared worked for a law firm building legal cases to help clients’ make medical claims and access their social security benefits. He noticed a lack of usable and accessible data in the health care field. “Over two years, I got to know these people well and understood their situations. But accessing their medical records was tough. Usually, these records were just paper files hidden away in hospital basements, sometimes far away, like 150 miles. And to make matters worse, many couldn’t afford the transportation needed to pick them up. This was over a decade ago before things like Zoom or video calling were around to make it easier.”

This awakening ignited Jared’s drive to merge technology with health care. He dove headfirst into this pursuit, leaving behind his career in law to join a health care IT market research firm. His dedication paid off, leading to a promotion within the company. Just as Jared’s future seemed to be taking off, he received devastating news from his medical provider: a cancer diagnosis.

Jared’s Mission – A Risk Worth Taking

Jared’s life-changing diagnosis significantly shaped his dedication to fostering secure and dependable health care data exchange. His entire outlook underwent a profound transformation as he grappled with the uncertainties brought on by his health crisis—a reflection of the precarious state of health care data and technology today.

Jared Jefferey underwent numerous tests and procedures while laying the foundation to start healthKERI.

“My cancer diagnosis completely shattered my risk meter,” Jared said. “Before, I settled into my role as a health care IT research marketer, finding comfort in the stability it offered. But everything changed with my diagnosis. Suddenly, every day felt precious, and the assurances from my job and others lost their meaning. It wasn’t anyone’s fault; it was just the reality of life. This experience forced me to reevaluate my priorities and embrace each moment with a newfound appreciation for its value and uncertainty.”

In a bold departure following his diagnosis, Jared chose a path few would consider he founded a company. Drawing from his own experiences as a patient navigating the complexities of health care data reliability, he recognized a pressing issue facing the American health care landscape—the escalating cybersecurity threats confronting providers and companies alike. With the support of Dr. Samuel Smith, a renowned researcher and the company’s Chief Architect and co-founder, Jared laid the groundwork for their venture.

Despite facing the formidable challenge of battling cancer, Jared persisted in expanding the healthKERI team. Dr. Smith, the technology’s inventor, brought invaluable expertise in machine learning to the table, complementing Jared’s vision with technical prowess. Together, they forged ahead, determined to revolutionize health care technology even in the face of personal adversity.

The Five Rights of Secure Health Data Exchange

Jared can trace his interest in health care security back to his time at the law firm. Back then, paper records were the norm, which offered more security than Electronic Health Records at the time but as Jared found, the hard copy records were much too difficult to track down and transport. However, with the High-Tech Act pushing for a transition to electronic storage, cybersecurity was becoming more important than ever. In 2023, the HIPAA Journal reported a record 133 million data breaches. Health data security had become more than just a minor problem for the field.

Jared (left) and Dr. Sam Smith (right) cofounders of healthKERI enjoying the slopes of Utah during Jared’s post-cancer treatment stage.

“In healthcare, we heavily rely on session-based security for data access. Unfortunately, this very method is a prime target for hackers. They zero in on endpoints—the user, client, or server—and once they breach one, they can often compromise the entire system. Leading to chaos like what happened in the recent Change Healthcare cyberattack. The repercussions are significant.”

To address these challenges, healthKERI technology implements comprehensive endpoint checks at the moment of data transfer. Jared explains that the company’s approach mirrors the principles of the five rights of medication administration, emphasizing a ‘check every time’ approach to accuracy and safety.

As a quick reminder, the five rights of medication administration ensure patient safety by ensuring these factors align before medication is prescribed:

  1. Right drug: Ensuring the label matches the doctor’s order.
  2. Right patient: Identifying the patient using two identifiers.
  3. Right dose: Confirming the appropriate dosage.
  4. Right route: Administering the medication via the correct method (oral, IV, etc.).
  5. Right time: Administering the medication at the prescribed frequency.

These five rights are checked—usually via barcode—every time a medication is administered to an acute care patient. If any one of the 5 doesn’t match, the meds aren’t administered.

In a similar vein, healthKERI technology harnesses the power of their digital signature/verification structure to meticulously oversee data exchanges, ensuring adherence to the following five fundamental rights crucial for health care data security transfer:

  1. Right Data: The technology verifies that the data being transferred is accurate, complete, and in compliance with privacy regulations, mitigating the risk of erroneous or unauthorized information exchange.
  2. Right Source: healthKERI meticulously verifies the authenticity and reliability of the data source, safeguarding against potential breaches or tampering from untrusted or compromised sources.
  3. Right Role: By meticulously assigning and verifying user roles and permissions, healthKERI ensures that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive health care data, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches.
  4. Right Purpose: healthKERI scrutinizes the intent and purpose behind each data transfer, ensuring that data is being exchanged for legitimate and authorized reasons, thus preventing misuse or exploitation of health care information.
  5. Right Route: The technology carefully monitors the pathway or route through which data is transferred, ensuring that it follows secure channels and protocols, thereby mitigating the risk of interception or unauthorized access during transit.

Just like safety in medication administration, if any of these five rights of secure health data doesn’t check out, then the data exchange is halted. By upholding these five essential rights throughout the data transfer process, healthKERI’s technology provides a robust and proactive approach to health care data security, enabling health care providers and organizations to safeguard sensitive patient information effectively.

Forging Partnerships for Transformative Health Care Innovation

In conclusion, Jared’s emphasis on healthKERI’s integration into the Civitas community transcends mere formalities of alliance. “We’re not just checking a box,” said Jared. His active involvement and attendance at the Civitas Networks for Health Conference during the early stages of healthKERI’s launch underscore his genuine commitment to collaboration and innovation.

Alana, co-founder and Project Manager of healthKERI, and husband Jared, CEO.

For Jared, the allure of Civitas extends far beyond the status of a recognized partner in the health care improvement arena. He sees Civitas as a catalyst for meaningful change, offering invaluable resources such as workgroups, cross-state promotion, and platforms for fostering impactful discussions and partnerships. This holistic approach aligns perfectly with Jared’s mission to position healthKERI at the forefront of technological solutions in health care.

As a self-described missionary for open-source tech, Jared’s vision for healthKERI extends beyond mere success—it’s about driving tangible, positive change in the health care landscape. With Civitas by their side, healthKERI is poised to not only thrive but also lead the charge in revolutionizing healthcare through innovation and collaboration.

healthKERI, the pioneering health care IT company focused on cybersecurity, has now proudly joined Civitas’ esteemed membership. Under the leadership of founder and CEO Jared Jeffery, healthKERI embodies a steadfast commitment to revolutionizing health care data integrity. With their guiding principle statement of “Sign Everything, Trust Nothing” healthKERI employs cutting-edge technology to imbue every transaction, API call, and exchange of PHI with unparalleled security. Through a robust digital signature system operating seamlessly behind the scenes, healthKERI fulfills its promise of immutable authenticity, safeguarding the integrity of vital health care data. You can learn more about their work here.