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Establishing Information Security in Project Management

Establishing Information Security in Project Management | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

A person recently asked me if it was possible to implement ISO 27001 using a specific project management software product. They used the tool in the past to define project plans and make project reviews. While I told them this is entirely possible, the truth is one can implement ISO 27001 even without a project plan or any specific tools. But should they?

ISO 27001 and Information Security in Project Management

The point is that many people do not treat the implementation of ISO 27001 as a project. What is worse, the majority see this security standard as just another document kit. They believe information security could be established just by making their employees scan a set of documents. Of course, this is an entirely incorrect concept of ISO 27001. To establish information security within an organization, we need to implement a set of specifically defined procedures.

This is also analogous to establishing information security within project management itself. While most think that ISO 27001 is merely a document or a project plan a manager needs to quickly scan before the project starts, this could not be further from the truth. What we actually need to do is clearly define a guide for the implementation of information security during the entirety of the project management life cycle.

Unfortunately, a lot of people find it difficult to understand what information security in project management entails. But the concept is fairly easy to grasp – protect information related to project management from an information security point of view.

How Can We Establish Information Security in Project Management?

To properly protect information around any project, we need to focus on securing the information that is essential to the management of a specific project (information related to the project itself, business, resources, personal data, etc).

Furthermore, it is extremely important to identify the classification of the information because its value is not always the same. For example, names and surnames are treated as public, while information on employee salaries is considered private.

But even though some information is considered public, we need to protect it regardless. The obvious reason is it could be modified without our permission. For example, an e-commerce website would see a significant decrease in revenue if one was to modify their public information by increasing product prices by $100.

Therefore, one important thing to focus on would be the identification of information in your project, i.e. defining the classification of information and considering that not all information should be treated equally. Now let us take a closer look at how ISO 27001 helps with establishing information security in project management.

Managing Projects in Accordance With ISO 27001

The most important aspect of ISO 27001 is risk management, which is a crucial point if you want to manage projects according to this information security standard. Annex A of ISO 27001 includes a specific control regarding risk management (“A.6.1.5 Information security in project management”) according to which you would need to define the following points:

  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities related to information security (CISO, information security auditors, developers, systems administrators, etc.).
  • Define information security objectives. Reduce the number of incidents and improve confidentiality of external access to the information, etc.
  • Perform risk assessment and risk treatment. For example, risks related to a source code in software development or risks related to the entire IT infrastructure of a company, etc.
  • Develop specific policies for information security of a project. If the project is related to software development, it might be wise to develop a policy related to writing software code in a secure way.

Benefits of Information Security in Project Management

Clearly, there are a lot of risks when it comes to establishing information security in project management. Although these could be hazardous to your project, the good news is you can easily avoid them. You just need to clearly define information security throughout the entire project life cycle. Risk management is the ultimate tool to pinpoint what you need to change in your project to avoid problems and execute it securely.

Some might wonder whether it was possible to execute a project without considering information security. Obviously, one can manage a project without establishing proper infosec, but there will be a much higher probability of failure.

From a professional viewpoint, and since information security should be of the highest importance to any project manager, the main benefit of secure project management is painstakingly clear: avoidance of any potential breaches of information security within a project.

Fortunately, ISO 27001 is specifically designed to establish proper information security while having a specific control regarding the treatment of information security in project management. Therefore, ISO 27001 can be an excellent tool for executing secure projects within your organization.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Top 3 Third Party Risk Management Challenges

Top 3 Third Party Risk Management Challenges | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Since the massive Target data security breach in December 2013, third party cyber security stopped being an afterthought and started becoming one of the top security priorities for CISOs and Risk Departments. As a response, Third Party Risk Management (TPRM) underwent a transformation in early 2014, and continues to reverberate today.

 

With attackers finding new ways to break into third parties in hopes of infecting a larger organization, the third party ecosystem is more susceptible than ever before. Meanwhile third party usage is growing fast in large organizations and enterprises. Many critical business services such as HR functions, data storage, and modes of communication are the responsibility of cloud-based third parties.

 

Without a modern TPRM program, many of these third parties are left behind in security risk management, putting organizations in a vulnerable position.

 

Over 60% of data breaches can be linked either directly or indirectly to a third party (per Soha Systems, 2016) but TPRM programs don’t often take a risk-first perspective when it comes to risk management. Security and Vendor Risk departments are often solely focused on compliance. That’s important, but doesn’t get at the heart of the risk posed by your third parties. To shift the approach of your TPRM program to measure true risk, you’ll need to make some adjustments in how you manage third parties.

 

Here are the three top TPRM challenges and the actions you and your organization can take in order to bolster your TPRM program.

 

1. Automate Your TPRM Process to Reduce Unmanaged Risk
With the rise in SaaS, businesses are now using cloud-based third parties more than ever. Gartner predicted that SaaS sales will nearly double by 2019, and that SaaS applications will make up 20% of the growth rate in all public cloud services, a $204B market. Last year, Forrester had already predicted that enterprise spend on software would reach $620B by the end of 2015.

 

As businesses engage in IT and infrastructure digital transformation, the need to manage vendors is more pronounced. Over 60% of respondents from a Ponemon Institute’s survey on Third Party Risk Management believe that the Internet of Things increases third party risk significantly. 68% believe the same is true for cloud migration.

 

However, as more third parties are brought in, they’re often not managed to match the level of cyber security risk they carry. Worse, they may not be managed at all due to a lack of resources. This creates unmanaged security risk. If these third parties have access to your network, your employees’ PII, or your customers’ sensitive data, shouldn’t they be subject to rigorous risk management assessments?

 

Unfortunately, as the number of third parties swell to the hundreds, it’s often not feasible for every vendor to be assessed in the same critical fashion. That’s why having an automated risk assessment tool for assessing vendors is a way to ensure you’re minimizing unmanaged risk from both new and existing vendors.

 

Automating your TPRM process is one of the major steps towards having a mature TPRM department capable. Its benefits include:

 

  • Improved third party management flexibility
  • Standardized processes and thirdparty management
  • Metrics and reporting consistency
  • Improved data-driven decision making
  • Further structuring the TPRM organization
  • Increased third party responsibility
  • Increased overall risk assessment and mitigation

 

By automating the TPRM process, you’re creating a standardized structure that can be applied to all third parties, whether existing or onboarded.

 

You can automate your TPRM process by finding new technologies or tools that will automate the assessment and information gathering process for your third party vendors. This helps to ensure that you’re optimizing your resources and spending company time on what is most impactful.

 

2. Augment and Validate Self-Reported Questionnaires Through Independent Risk-Based Assessments
Third parties are often assessed through questionnaires, onsite assessments, or via penetration tests. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Onsite risk assessments and penetration tests are resource-intensive, requiring time, money, and staff in order to carry out the assessments. Because of the costs, these kinds of assessments cannot be used for all third parties, and should be reserved for the most risk-critical third parties.

 

That leaves questionnaires to fill the void for most of the other third parties. However, questionnaires are self-reported, which makes using a ‘trust, but verify’ approach to risk management difficult to accomplish.

 

In a 2016 Deloitte Study on Third Party Risk Management, 93.5% of respondents expressed moderate to low levels of confidence in their risk management and monitoring mechanisms. With numbers like that, it’s easy to see why TPRM programs need increased attention. Without a way to independently verify the security posture of your third parties, you can only rely on the word of your third parties who are, for obvious reasons, incentivized to report positively.

 

Organizations should find independent third parties that can provide risk-based assessments of their third parties to validate that the findings from questionnaires are a realistic portrait of the state of third party security.

 

There are a number of cyber security solutions that provide risk-first third party assessments. To find the right solution, you should research whether or not those solutions:

 

  • are accurately assessing third parties
  • can facilitate communication between you and third parties
  • are focusing on key cyber security areas that are indicative of a potential breach


3. Utilize Continuous Monitoring to Assess Third Parties Beyond Point-In-Time Assessments
The assessment methods mentioned in the previous section all have one glaring flaw in common – they assess third parties at a single point in time. Many times, the information gathered by security risk assessments is outdated by the time it falls into your hands. The speed at which hackers are developing new attacks and exploiting vulnerabilities is too fast for point-in-time assessments or annual reviews to provide any insight into the real security posture of a vendor.

 

A PWC Third Party Risk Management report on the finance industry noted that 58% of companies using ad hoc monitoring experienced a third party service disruption or data breach, compared to only 37% of those that regularly monitor their providers and partners. Without having a way to know the security posture of your third parties on-demand, you’re managing risk with a blindfold on for most of the year. By only having point-in-time information that is quickly outdated, your ability to react to new vulnerabilities, or worse, a potential third party cyber security incident, is negligible.

 

Through continuous monitoring, you’re bolstering the security of your third party by keeping them consistently accountable, which in turn, minimizes your overall risk to a potential security incident.

 

How to Get Started Revamping Your VRM
We covered how to implement continuous monitoring in your TPRM program in part 2 of our How to Revamp Your VRM Program article series. Start by establishing a central TPRM office if you don’t already have one, prioritize and identify your most risk-critical and business-critical vendors, and then define your third parties’ security controls and processes that you’ll monitor on an ongoing basis. If you have the resources, look for automated risk healthassessment tools and solutions that offer continuous monitoring for your third parties.

 

Conclusion
Updating your TPRM program doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul of your department. Instead, you should use a risk-first perspective to define the aspects that are the most criticalto update. The three we highlighted here will yield the most dramatic changes in a TPRM program, reducing your unmanaged risk, and reducing your reaction time should a security incident occur.

 

By automating aspects of your TPRM program, using independent third party assessments, and adopting continuous monitoring, you’re not far from having a mature TPRM program that can easily assess any new third party as it comes, keeping your organization safe.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Top 6 Benefits of Adopting a Phone System 

Top 6 Benefits of Adopting a Phone System  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

In the modern medical era of robot surgeries, drones, and telemedicine, it’s easy to overlook basic communication platforms like your phone system. But your phone system is still a critical method patients and providers rely on for communication. If your organization is using a legacy phone system, it’s time to discover the benefits of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP).

 

VoIP is the transmission of phone calls over the Internet instead of traditional telephone lines, and this technology is rapidly transforming how healthcare organizations across the country communicate with their providers, patients, and counterparts.

 

No matter if your organization is a large medical system, behavioral health group, small doctor’s office, public health department, or rural clinic, VoIP systems can provide numerous benefits that legacy phone services just can’t deliver. Here are the top six benefits of adopting a VoIP phone system.

 

Enhanced Productivity and Efficiency

It’s no secret healthcare organizations are slammed in our current fast-paced climate. Healthcare administrators and providers alike are watching their responsibilities increase while the amount of time to meet them stays the same. According to IT Toolbox, switching gears throughout the day to tackle tasks like managing contacts and voicemail leads to a 40% reduction in staff productivity.

 

With a VoIP phone system, you can get your day back with productivity-enhancing features that legacy phone systems can’t support, and the integration of those features creates seamless, time-saving communications among your staff members. Simple-to-configure call routing and self-routing auto attendant features are easy for staff to navigate, improves staff availability to callers who need them, and decreases time spent on routing calls. And, if your goal is to reduce the time physicians and medical staff spend on voicemails, VoIP systems offer voicemail transcribing features that will automatically transcribe messages and deliver them to your email inbox.

 

Additionally, advanced reporting data gives your team an inside look into the traffic loads of your system. This data is extremely valuable and can be used to make intelligent routing and configuration decisions to balance call loads across your organization.

 

Cost Savings

With costs escalating and reimbursement rates shrinking, it’s more important than ever for healthcare providers to find innovative ways to save money without sacrificing efficiency.

 

VoIP is a cost-effective solution because calls are made and received over your organization’s Internet rather than traditional phone lines. This means your organization isn’t being charged for local and long distance calls on a minute-by-minute basis, cutting down your costs by a huge margin.

 

VoIP systems are also affordable to install. Because VoIP is cloud-based, most of the equipment a healthcare organization needs is already in place, making installation fast and seamless. Typically, the only capital expenditure needed is the cost for the phones themselves. VoIP allows your organization to save time and effort that otherwise would have been spent on additional infrastructure, project management, and staffing. These critical savings can be reallocated to other needed services that directly save lives.

 

Delivers a Better Patient Experience

At any healthcare establishment, the quality of care provided and patient experience delivered is paramount to success. Adopting a VoIP phone system can help elevate the communication experience your patients have with your facility.

 

With a VoIP phone system, you enjoy enhanced audio quality and clarity, making it easier to decipher and respond to a patient’s questions and concerns. Additionally, several features can be implemented to ensure your patients and callers are routed to the correct point of contact. Some of these features include:

 

  • Prioritized calling for medical emergencies
  • Call forwarding
  • Click-to-call
  • Routing calls based on caller ID
  • Routing calls with option sets for billing, scheduling, care, etc.
  • Custom messages based on day and time
  • Custom hold music or announcements
  • Integration with patient account information systems

 

These advanced features work together to ensure your callers are able to reach their destination and gather or relay information quickly and painlessly.

 

Online Portals Put You in Control

With legacy phone systems, changing system settings can be a difficult task and can even require multiple calls to the vendor. That’s time your providers and staff simply can’t afford to waste.

 

Cloud-based VoIP platforms deliver complete organization and control to your staff through easy-to-use online portals. These portals give your staff advanced features that allow easy day-to-day management of your voice services without ever having to call the service provider. Authorized administrators can change call-forwarding settings, manage call groups, update contacts, reset passwords, configure phones, listen to transcribed voicemails, and more, all through their online portal. Your staff can easily and quickly update and configure settings instantaneously anytime from any web browser.

 

Flexibility Allows You to Scale

Another advantage cloud-based VoIP services offer is simple scalability, allowing you to transition as slowly or as quickly as needed. Healthcare organizations vary in size and complexity and your phone system should be able to scale to your needs. With traditional phone systems, this is incredibly difficult and can cost you more money in the long run. Flexible designs enable healthcare organizations to deploy VoIP at one site or multiple sites if you’re looking to consolidate multiple voice platforms. Additionally, VoIP systems allow you to scale your system to only include features your organization truly utilizes.

 

Streamlined Communications on the Go

With a mobile VoIP capability, such as an app on your smartphone, your staff and providers are always reachable on their mobile phones. Missing important calls or information can create a lot of added work and decrease efficiency. Thanks to the mobility provided by many VoIP applications, staff members can stay connected by using their mobile devices to receive and make calls to and from their work extensions, as well as access voicemail, call logs, and contact lists.

 

 

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Compromised logs can hamper IT security investigations 

Compromised logs can hamper IT security investigations  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

At the heart of most devices that provide protection for IT networks is an ability to log events and take actions based on those events. This application and system monitoring provides details both on what has happened to the device and what is happening. It provides security against lapses in perimeter and application defences by alerting you to problems so defensive measures can be taken before any real damage is done. Without monitoring, you have little chance of discovering whether a live application is being attacked or has been compromised.

 

Critical applications, processes handling valuable or sensitive information, previously compromised or abused systems, and systems connected to third parties or the Internet all require active monitoring. Any seriously suspicious behaviour or critical events must generate an alert that is assessed and acted on. Although you will need to carry out a risk assessment for each application or system to determine what level of audit, log review and monitoring is necessary, you will need to log at least the following:

  • User IDs
  • Date and time of log on and log off, and other key events
  • Terminal identity
  • Successful and failed attempts to access systems, data or applications
  • Files and networks accessed
  • Changes to system configurations
  • Use of system utilities
  • Exceptions and other security-related events, such as alarms triggered
  • Activation of protection systems, such as intrusion detection systems and antimalware

Collecting this data will assist in access control monitoring and can provide audit trails when investigating an incident. While most logs are covered by some form of regulation these days and should be kept as long as the requirements call for, any that are not should be kept for a minimum period of one year, in case they are needed for an investigation.  However, monitoring must be carried out in line with relevant legislation, which in the UK is the Regulation of Investigatory Powers and Human Rights Acts. Employees should be made aware of your monitoring activities in the network acceptable use policy.

 

 

Log files are a great source of information only if you review them. Simply purchasing and deploying a log management product won’t provide any additional security. You have to use the information collected and analyse it on a regular basis; for a high-risk application, this could mean automated reviews on an hourly basis. ISO/IEC 27001 control A.10.10.2 not only requires procedures for monitoring the use of information processing facilities, but demands the results are reviewed regularly to identify possible security threats and incidents.

 

However, even small networks can generate too much information to be analysed manually. This is where log analysers come in, as they automate the auditing and analysis of logs, telling you what has happened or is happening, and revealing unauthorised activity or abnormal behaviour. This feedback can be used to improve IDS signatures or firewall rule sets. Such improvements are an iterative process, as regularly tuning your devices to maximise their accuracy in recognising true threats will help reduce the number of false positives. Completely eliminating false positives, while still maintaining strict controls, is next to impossible, particularly as new threats and changes in the network structure will affect the effectiveness of existing rule sets. Log analysis can also provide a basis for focused security awareness training, reduced network misuse and stronger policy enforcement.

 

ISO/IEC 27001 controls A.10.10.4 and A.10.10.5 cover two specific areas of logging whose importance is often not fully appreciated: administrator activity and fault logging. Administrators have powerful rights, and their actions need to be carefully recorded and checked. As events, such as system restarts to correct serious errors, may not get recorded electronically, administrators should maintain a written log of their activities, recording event start and finish times, who was involved and what actions were taken. The name of the person making the log entry should also be recorded, along with the date and time. The internal audit team should keep these logs.

 

There are two types of faults to be logged: faults generated by the system and the applications running on it, and faults or errors reported by the system's users. Fault logging and analysis is often the only way of finding out what is wrong with a system or application. The analysis of fault logs can be used to identify trends that may indicate more deep-rooted problems, such as faulty equipment or a lack of competence or training in either users or system administrators.

 

All operating systems and many applications, such as database server software, provide basic logging and alerting faculties. This logging functionality should be configured to log all faults and send an alert if the error is above an acceptable threshold, such as a write failure or connection time-out. The logs should be reviewed on a regular basis, and any error-related entries should be investigated and resolved. While analysing all logs daily is likely an unrealistic goal, high-volume and high-risk applications, such as an e-commerce Web server, will need almost daily checking to prevent high-profile break-ins, while for most others a weekly check will suffice.

 

There should be a documented work instruction covering how faults are recorded or reported, who can investigate them, and an expected resolution time, similar to a service contract if you use an outside contractor to support your systems. Help desk software can log details of all user reports, and track actions taken to deal with them and close them out.

 

No matter how extensive your logging, log files are worthless if you cannot trust their integrity. The first thing most hackers will do is try to alter log files to hide their presence. To protect against this, you should record logs both locally and to a remote log server. This provides redundancy and an extra layer of security as you can compare the two sets of logs against one another -- any differences will indicate suspicious activity.

 

If you can’t stretch to a dedicated log server, logs should be written to a write-once medium, such as a CD-R or DVD-R, or to rewritable media such as magnetic tape data storage or hard disk drives that automatically make the newly written portion read-only to prevent an attacker from overwriting them. It's important also to prevent administrators from having physical and network access to logs of their own activities. Those tasked with reviewing logs should obviously be independent of the people, activities and logs being reviewed.

 

The protection of log information is critical. Compromised logs can hamper IT security investigations into suspicious events, invalidate disciplinary action and undermine court actions.

 

Another point to bear in mind is system clocks need to be synchronised so log entries have accurate timestamps. Check computer clocks and correct any significant time variations on a weekly basis, or more often, depending on the error margin for time accuracy.

 

Clocks can drift on mobile devices and should be updated whenever they attach to the network or desktop. Always record the time of an event in a consistent format, such as Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) across all files. For additional security, add a checksum to each log entry so you can detect if any entries have been tampered with. Controls also need to be in place to ensure there is ample log storage. If your logs can be trusted, they can help you reconstruct the events of security incidents and provide legally admissible evidence.

 

Logging and auditing work together to ensure users are only performing the activities they are authorised to perform, and they play a key role in preventing, as well as in spotting, tracking and stopping unwanted or inappropriate activities.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Providers Looking for More out of HIEs

Providers Looking for More out of HIEs | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Healthcare providers’ health information exchange (HIE) needs have moved beyond connecting disparate systems and meeting meaningful requirements. They are now looking for HIEs to ease access to “actionable” data, according to a report from NORC at the University of Chicago.


The researchers conducted an in-depth examination consisting of site visits and 37 semi-structured discussions in six states (Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming) in the early months of 2014 to understand provider perspectives on the state HIE program and their experiences with electronic exchange. The report was funded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).


The report found that providers highlight the potential for HIE to ease access to actionable data that integrates data from across the care continuum and provides clinicians with information at the point of care to improve care delivery and care coordination. Providers highlighted several exchange priorities: admission, discharge, transfer (ADT) alerts, services that facilitate care coordination, and interstate exchange.


Additionally, meaningful use and payment reform are creating new requirements for health IT-enabled information sharing related to care coordination and management as well as new models for patient care. Providers anticipate a growing need for vendor provided HIE services and infrastructure as expectations for electronic exchange of health information increase under this shift, the report found.


Providers also encountered various challenges, specifically competing priorities, issues managing multiple funding streams, lack of qualified staff on the provider side, and difficulty obtaining adequate support from electronic health record (EHR) and HIE vendors. They also noted a need for interoperable systems to meet exchange and health system reform goals.


What’s more, providers in most states believed that the state HIE program contributed to building awareness around HIE and the benefits of exchanging information. Providers conveyed a general sentiment that a state-based HIE effort is important, due to their stature as neutral entity, capable of bringing stakeholders together. Even though the meaningful use program did not provide incentive payments to long-term care and behavioral health providers, the state HIE program was instrumental in engaging these providers, identifying their specific needs and the gaps that grantees needed to fill, particularly around care continuity, the report revealed.


The researchers concluded, “Throughout the life of the program, HIE has become more visible and better established, meaning that provider priorities and challenges have likewise evolved.” In addition to highlighting providers’ current needs and perspectives on HIE, findings from these conversations emphasize certain areas, the researchers said:

  • Providers have additional use cases beyond meaningful use and payment reform they are or would like to pursue to meet their specific exchange needs.
  • New healthcare system priorities, such as care coordination suggest expanding interoperable health IT systems and services to providers in eligible for meaningful use to ensure that the information needed to manage care is available electronically.
  • There is a need to push for interoperability at the vendor level.
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Do Start Ups Need a CRM and Phone System for Sales?

Do Start Ups Need a CRM and Phone System for Sales? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

If anything, this seems like a needless question – especially for start-ups. A CRM and phone system is an advantage. If you’re a start-up, it is what you want on your side.

 

Just consider these numbers. According to Nucleus Research, when you invest a dollar in CRM, you get an average of $8.71 back. Plus, for each salesperson using CRM, you can increase your revenue by 41%.

 

So, even if your sales team is made up of only two or so people – or if it’s just you – a reliable CRM for small business is what you need to forge ahead and catch up with your competitors.

 

Still need convincing? Well, consider these signs that you need to set up a CRM and phone system for your business:

  • You fail to follow-up and eventually lose leads and opportunities.
  • You don’t remember where to pick things up with a prospect you previously called.
  • You feel like you have an unmanageable number of prospects – you can no longer keep track.
  • You start receiving negative feedback from your customers.

Advantages of CRM for Small Business

Get your start-up off the ground. Make the most of CRM for small business and enjoy advantages that improve your customer/prospect’s experience and your sales team’s efficiency and effectiveness. A comprehensive and reliable CRM makes a world of difference for your business so don’t miss out.

 

Information When You Need It
The right information, used at the right time, can get you a step closer to sealing the deal. It can also bridge communication gaps and make the overall client experience a little better.

 

The data that you have on your prospect or client comes into play at all stages of your sales cycle. Through CRM’s pop-up interface, you know a person’s location and call history even during the initial point of contact. It comes in handy when following up. You know what you’ve previously talked about. You have information that helps you personalize the conversation.

 

You might say that the non-techie approach here is to have a notebook prepared or perhaps use sticky notes as reminder. But can you imagine the amount of information you need to keep organized with just five prospects in a month? Without CRM, it won’t be long before you lose track of things and opportunities fall through the cracks.

 

Enhanced Communication
CRM helps you stay on top of your conversations with your prospects and clients. You get information that helps you personalize phone calls and presentations. You can also automate follow-ups according to user actions, schedules and events. And, when you do call to follow up, you know where exactly to pick things up from.

 

Better Service
According to the Global Customer Service Study, three out of four customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. And, the best way to guarantee better customer service and experience is through CRM for small business.

 

Key here is to remember that what you have with your clients – and what you want to have with your prospects – is a relationship. You need to be up to speed on previous conversations, call and purchase history, issues and resolutions and more.

 

The human memory is limited. You need CRM for small business to stay on top of your prospect/ client engagements.

 

Task Automation
Important tasks, such as follow-ups and lead scoring, can be automated through CRM. This keeps you and your small team focused on more crucial matters, such as making sales calls and customizing sales presentations, among others.

 

Better Team Coordination
You are not going to be around 24/7 to deal with your prospects and clients. Somewhere along the line, your team steps in to help out. With CRM for small business, access to your contacts’ information is available to everyone, anywhere. You can lessen your lead leakage by being consistently available to your prospects and clients.

 

Improved Data Analyses and Reporting
In time, you would have amassed a good amount of data from your leads and clients. Understand this data and use it to assess where you are as a business, what markets you’re missing out on and key performance analytics that need improvement. A good CRM system provides you with reporting and data analyses that push you to improve and move forward as a business.

Why Should You Get CRM For Small Business Today

Regardless of your business size, you need a reliable CRM system. But why get one now?

 

Look at it this way: prospects and customers are at the core of a successful business. When you implement a CRM system at your start-up stage, you are making this focus clear.

 

What’s great about the CRM options that you have now is their scalability. You can get cloud-based CRM services, such as Salesforce, with the exact features, number of users and capacity that you need. Should you require more, you can add at any time.

 

You are organized right away and your customers will know this. You are able to manage leads, quotes and invoicing professionally. You can issue information, such as receivables, paid invoices and more, ASAP as required by your clients.

 

As such, you won’t have to worry about migration costs. What you used at limited capacity can easily be extended to suit bigger requirements. And, you will always have the latest version. Upgrades for cloud-based CRM come with the service, which is another thing you won’t have to worry about.

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Empower Patients With StrongBox Payment Portal & Patient Financing Alternatives

Empower Patients With StrongBox Payment Portal & Patient Financing Alternatives | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Customer churn. The phrase refers to the periodic loss of patients and the gaining of new clients. One way to ensure that churn works in your office’s favor is to empower your customers through our online financing portal. StrongBox, a leading platform as a service (PaaS) provider based in Boca Raton, FL, understands that when patients have the freedom to finance their procedures at a time and place of their choosing they are more likely to follow through with timely payments.

 

Why Customer Empowerment Matters
We all live busy lives, and patients are no different. No matter how welcoming and friendly your clinic is, patients are always mindful of their next appointments. One way StrongBox allows your clinic to empower patients is through our online financing portal. Instead of requiring your customers to fill out lengthy forms in the office, they simply need to sign on through our online portal to apply for financing from top lenders. By allowing your patients to choose when they apply, you are showing that you respect their valuable time. Plus, the online platform reduces wait time in your office.

 

A 2016 article in the Journal of Dental Hygiene found that long wait times in office have a measurable “negative effect” on patients’ satisfaction with their dentist and lowers patient return rates.

 

How StrongBox Empowers Your Patients
In addition to our revenue recognition cloud-based platform and our Payment Portal, StrongBox also offers two financing options, Select and Pro, that are accessible at the office or to be completed by the patient when they have the time to complete the less than 5 minute application process. The application process is paperless and offers instant access to an easy to use online financing application form. By partnering with StongBox, your patients will benefit from: 

  • Fixed-rate loans
  • No hidden markups
  • No interest hikes for late payments
  • No impact on credit score
  • Access to top-tier lenders (Discover, OneMain, Ascend)
  • Fast response from lenders
  • Easy application process
  • Hassle-free payments
  • Set monthly payments

 

Small- to medium-sized providers will benefit from our Select financing option. This service gives patients access to 30 lenders simultaneously. Select financing applications are approved at twice the rate as medical credit card applications. Both forms of application take less than five minutes for patients to complete.

 

Larger groups and networks may be best served with our Pro patient financing option. Our cloud-based platform can analyze your patients’ credit characteristics and rank them accordingly. Once approved, your clinic will receive funds within 24 hours.

 

More options for patients means a greater likelihood of compliance with billing, accelerating revenue recognition and reducing collection risk for the provider.  Many patients already experience anxiety over medical bills and non-payment is a healthcare system issue. In fact, a recent survey found that 79 million Americans have trouble paying medical bills and medical debt. Why not turn those worried patients into informed allies. The StrongBox model has a proven track record. Hospitals and clinics that use Pro and Select plans can see their collection rate increase from 15 to 70 percent to best practices 95 percent over the near term.


Learn How Our Online Platform Can Grow Your Business
Once your office begins using our online financing platform and payment portal, you can enjoy the benefits of our prompt customer support and proven return on investment. The freedom delivered by our revenue recognition platform and financing options means that your patients will feel empowered to handle payments on their terms while your team of oral health professionals can spend more time focusing on what you do best — serving patients.

 

If you have questions about StrongBox’s financing services, contact our team online or call our Boca
Raton, FL office at (855) 468-7876.

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4 Things to Know About Telehealth

4 Things to Know About Telehealth | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Telehealth has emerged as a critical tool in providing health care services. [1] The practice covers a broad range of medical technology and services that collectively define the discipline. Telehealth is especially beneficial for patients who live in rural communities and other remote areas where medical professionals use the Internet to gather and share information as well as monitor the health conditions of patients by using peripheral equipment and software such as video conferencing devices, store-and-forward imaging, and streaming media. The following information details important factors that are shaping this burgeoning field.

 

The Changing Face of Telehealth Law
Today’s competitive health care marketplace has created an environment where patients demand lower costs, higher service quality, and convenient access to services. [2] Telehealth is an innovative and valuable mechanism that provides patients with efficient access to quality services. Lowering costs and removing barriers to service access, are critical components in promoting patient wellness and population health. Convenience and cost-effectiveness are important commodities in the modern health care marketplace, as patients tend to avoid treatment that is difficult to access or too expensive. As a result, telehealth technology is emerging as a preferred choice among patients and providers. Telehealth has also attracted the attention of US legislators. They utilize this tool for improving the competitiveness of American health care services. This is especially important, seeing as health care represents 17 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). In fact, the resource has helped to define the role that lawmakers play in ensuring that patients benefit in a competitive health care market.

 

Reimbursement for Services Delivered by Telehealth
The laws regarding reimbursements change regularly as more service providers incorporate telehealth technology into their practices. Reimbursement procedures can vary by state, practice, insurer, and service. [3] Care providers need to understand several facts, regulations, and laws to navigate Medicare telehealth reimbursements. They must first scrutinize whether the distance between the facility (the originating site) and the patient is far enough to qualify as a distant site. The location must also qualify as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) per Medicare guidelines. Additionally, the originating site must fall under Medicare’s classification as a legally authorized private practice, hospital, or critical access hospital (CAH). For instance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ranks the Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center as a top facility in need of physician services based on these criteria. Care providers must also use proper insurance coding to be reimbursed for hosting services that use telehealth technologies. For now, collecting reimbursements for telehealth services remains simpler for practitioners who limit the scope to which they apply the technology.

 

Telehealth or Telemedicine?
The term ‘telehealth’ is gaining popularity among medical professionals, compared to the original term, ‘telemedicine.’ [4] Some medical professionals use the names interchangeably. However, telemedicine is a term that may apply to the application of any technology in the clinical setting, while telehealth more distinctly describes the delivery of services to patients. Telemedicine is a familiar term, but telehealth more appropriately describes the latest trends in using technology to deliver treatments to patients. Depending on the organization, service providers may use a different definitions of telehealth. Although the basic premise remains similar, the context may change according to factors such as organizational objectives, and the needs of the patient population being served. Medical experts do agree on one point; telehealth is an innovative way of engaging patients, and it is highly beneficial for both providers and patients.

 

The Road Ahead
There are several areas where telehealth medicine could make a significant impact. It could be used as a tool to remotely monitor patients who have recently been discharged. It may also help treat individuals with behavioral health issues who might normally avoid treatment due to its high cost, or to avoid any perceived public stigma. [5] The largest area where technology could advance medicine is in treating the chronically ill. These patients usually require many visits with several specialists who may practice at different and distant originating sites. To move telehealth forward, organizational leaders must present evidence to peers and patients that the technology offers value. In addition, care providers must work to transition patients from using telehealth services only for minor conditions (for headaches, colds, etc.), to accepting the technology as a viable replacement for costly physician office visits. Advocates for telehealth medicine must also develop quality controls, so that this potentially transformational tool can maximize its problem solving capabilities and its service effectiveness. To harness the benefits of telehealth technology, America’s brightest medical professionals (both experienced and up-and-coming) must make a concerted effort to incorporate the tool into their practices and make it a regular service offering. Today’s medical students — as they enter a world where telehealth is becoming more pervasive — can take part in what might be a monumental change in the way health professionals think about medical treatment.

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Phone Systems that keep the Practice and Patient Connected 

Phone Systems that keep the Practice and Patient Connected  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Today’s medical practice office is increasingly concerned with patient satisfaction. Of course, the health and well-being of patients has always been a concern; but as revenue and billing cycles quickly shift to a larger percent of patient responsibility, it’s becoming important to focus on ways to keep the conversation between practice and patient open and customer-centric at all times.

 

Healthcare providers have begun looking to technology solutions to up their patient satisfaction game. One likely solution? Automated phone systems that keep the practice and patient connected. Here’s a look at some of the key pros and cons of using automated phone systems in healthcare.

 

Everyone can relate to being annoyed by automated phone systems that keep directing callers around in circles, never to reach a human voice. That experience doesn’t translate to high patient appreciation. But it’s important to note that a good automated phone system can be far easier to use and more personalized for your practice needs.

 

Pros of Automated Phone Systems

 

Save Money. Automated phone systems have the potential to cover all of the work of your standard receptionist. Calls can be directed to the right party fairly quickly and the practice is still saving on the man hours it takes to answer and direct those calls manually.


Easy Installation and Upkeep. Most phone systems can be installed and up and running in a short amount of time and they can be hosted by the provider, meaning that the office will not need to worry about troubleshooting problems.


Routing Calls. New systems are exceptionally advanced and calls can easily be routed to the right destination, as well as voicemail boxes.


Setting Up Call Options. If the office manager takes a good look at what patients generally call about, they can narrow down specific options so that callers are quickly directed to the right location. For instance, if the largest number of calls come in to schedule appointments, “Scheduling” should be the first item on the automated list.


Cons of Automated Phone Systems

 

Patient Approval. No matter how well designed the phone system is, there will always be patients who are opposed simply because they’ve had bad experiences with automated systems–potentially not even in healthcare, but in another industry altogether. Most patients will get used to a new system, though practices should definitely listen to feedback and adjust to better serve the patients.

 

Voice Recognition Mistakes. Voice recognition is exceptionally useful so that patients can speak their choices and be directed immediately, without punching in any keys. Many people prefer this method, but voice recognition does still have occasional issues in deciphering speech, especially with differing accents.

 

Managers should take some time researching the company and product before deciding on any system. Taking the patients’ needs into consideration can go a long way in making the decision, as well as breeding satisfaction with patients as they become better acquainted with the phone system. Looking to the future of healthcar, technology plays the biggest role in facilitating patient satsifaction.

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Top Health Industries Issues for 2015 « Healthcare Economist

What are the top health industry issues for 2015?  A PwC report believes the following 10 issues should top the list:

HRI’s top 10 issues for the health industry in the year ahead:

  1. Do-it-yourself healthcare. U.S. physicians and consumers are ready to embrace a dramatic expansion of the high-tech, personal medical kit. Wearable technology, smartphone-linked devices and mobile apps will become increasingly valuable in care delivery.
  2. Making the leap from mobile app to medical device. A proliferation of approved and portable medical devices in patients’ homes, and on their phones, makes diagnosis and treatment more convenient, redoubling the need for strong information security systems.
  3. Balancing privacy and convenience. Privacy will lose ground to convenience in 2015 as patients adopt digital tools and services that gather and analyze health information.
  4. High-cost patients spark cost-saving innovations. The soaring cost of care for Medicare and Medicaid “dual eligibles,” aging boomers and patients with co-morbidities will foster creative care delivery and management systems.
  5. Putting a price on positive outcomes. With high-priced new products and specialty drugs slated to hit the market in 2015 increasing demand for new evidence and definitions of positive health outcomes are expected.
  6. Open everything to everyone. New transparency initiatives targeting clinical trial data, real-world patient outcomes and financial relationships between physicians and pharmaceutical companies will improve patient care and open new opportunities.
  7. Getting to know the newly insured. 2015 will be a revelatory year for the U.S. health sector as a portrait of the newly-insured emerges, fostering better care management programs and shifting marketing strategies.
  8. Physician extenders see an expanded role in patient care. Physician “extenders” are becoming the first line of care for many patients, as doctors delegate tasks, monitor patients digitally and enter into risk-based payment models.
  9. Redefining health and well-being for the millennial generation. As the economy rebounds and baby boomers retire, employers and insurers look for fresh ways to engage, retain and attract the next generation of health consumers.
  10. Partner to win. In 2015, joint ventures, open collaboration platforms and non-traditional partnerships will push healthcare companies out of the comfort zone toward new competitive strategies.



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