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Ransomware is on the Rise, Recent Attacks

Ransomware is on the Rise, Recent Attacks | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Ransomware attacks are on the rise this year, crippling cities and organizations that unfortunately fall victim to hackers.

 

In short, ransomware is malicious software that locks and encrypts computer systems and data. Once a system is infected, hackers gain control and lock out users from their own networks.

 

Just like in a kidnapping scenario, a ransom is demanded. Thus the bad actors threaten to shut down the hacked organization's critical infrastructure, blocking the victims from accessing files. They can go as far as destroying the victims' network and databases. The motivator is simple - extortion for money.

 

While these incidents will continue to occur, the best way an organization can be proactive in mitigating cyber risk is having a strong cybersecurity posture and a well-informed staff on cyber hygiene best practices. It's often said among information security professionals, the weakest link is the human being. 

 

Many ransomware attacks are caused by phishing emails, which are messages infected with malicious links and/or documents. Typically, an individual in the organization mistakenly clicks on such a link or opens up an infected document, enabling hackers to enter the network. Then, well, all havoc breaks loose. 

 

Once hackers are inside the victims networks, they may lurk around for months before making themselves known. Why? They spend time looking for sensitive data to make sure they can lock up the organization's most valuable information.

 

Last year, security firm Emsisoft reported that 205,280 organizations claimed to have lost files because of ransomware attacks. And, from what's been reported, the number of incidents has gone up 41 percent from the previous year. It's safe to conclude that not all incidents are known or reported.

 

Demand for payment now runs on average of $84,116 and can costs can be in the millions, not including the consequential damages from business disruption. 

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, ransomware cybercrime will cost $20 billion in damages worldwide by 2021.

 

Hospitals, healthcare providers fighting hackers amid the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has become fertile breeding ground for cybercriminals to do their dirty work. With front-line healthcare providers overwhelmed treating COVID patients, threat actors are aggressively targeting healthcare professionals. 

 

In mid-May, the FBI and Homeland Security issued a warning that Chinese hackers were trying to steal coronavirus vaccination and treatment research information from businesses, healthcare providers, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. Interpol, Google and Microsoft also have concluded the shady activity as being aggressively on the rise. 

 

Since 2016, it is estimated that nearly 6.6 million patients were impacted by ransomware attacks. As healthcare providers networks went under attack,  patients' treatment and appointments ended up on hold and/or canceled. For some, the matter is life or death. And it's only gotten worse, as Interpol has stated. 

Celebrity law firm hit, breached, documents leaked

In May of this year, law firm Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks which represents Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and other celebrities got hit with a $21 million ransom. The hacker group REvil allegedly have stolen 756 gigabytes of files, containing confidential information of the firm's famous clientele.

 

At the time of this writing, the New York-based law firm has refused to make a payment. So on May 14, the hackers leaked legal documents pertaining to Lady Gaga. 

 

A sizable amount, the 2.4-gigabyte documents include the entertainer's project contracts, confidentiality agreements and beyond. After doing so, the hackers doubled the ransom to $42 million.

 

A spokesperson on behalf of the law firm stated, "The leaking of our clients’ documents is a despicable and illegal attack by these foreign cyberterrorists who make their living attempting to extort high-profile U.S. companies, government entities, entertainers, politicians, and others. We have been informed by the experts and the FBI that negotiating with or paying ransom to terrorists is a violation of federal criminal law. Even when enormous ransoms have been paid, the criminals often leak the documents anyway.”

 

The group of cybercriminals are now threatening to leak documents of President Trump, which they claim to have in hand. “There’s an election race going on, and we found a ton of dirty laundry,” the hackers wrote in a response. “Mr. Trump, if you want to stay president, poke a sharp stick at the guys, otherwise you may forget this ambition forever.

 

This is a developing story, and it's been reported that President Trump is not connected to the Grubman law firm.

MSP hit hard, no entity is immune to threats

In mid-April, IT managed services provider, Cognizant, got hit with ransomware. The international company employs 300,000 employees and boasts nearly $15 billion in revenue.

"Cognizant can confirm that a security incident involving our internal systems, and causing service disruptions for some of our clients, is the result of a Maze ransomware attack," the juggernaut stated on its website. 

As the U.S.-based Cognizant continues to restore its networks, the company is facing a loss of $50 to $70 million in damages over the next three months. Additional associated monetary loss is anticipated. 

New Orleans, Chaos in The Big Easy 

In a high-profile municipality case, one of the most visited cities in the southern U.S. was victimized by hackers.

In response, the mayor of the City of New Orleans declared a state of emergency. The attack occurred on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019 (perfect date for a nightmare, eh?), according to NOLA Ready. 

While a ransom was never paid, the eight months-long recovery efforts to restore the city's network resulted in a cool $7.2 million in damages.

Negotiating with Hackers

The common thread described in the aforementioned incidents is that cybercriminals are ruthless. No organization is immune to threats. There are ways of being proactive against threats by promoting a cybersecurity culture at your organization. Training staff on what a phishing email looks like and how to avoid being a victim.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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4 Reasons Why You Need Telehealth for Your Practice

4 Reasons Why You Need Telehealth for Your Practice | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Telehealth defined

Technology and consumer demand are changing how and where healthcare is delivered.

 

Telehealth is the “use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration,” according to the Health Resources Services Administration. Patients experience telehealth when they video conference with their provider instead of being seen in an office.

 

As healthcare consumerism evolves —driven by young consumers — patients want convenient access to care. Patients want access. They want technology that allows them to do more than schedule appointments, renew prescriptions, pay bills online and email their physicians. Physicians want to replicate the care they deliver at an in-person visit. As a result, telehealth is on the rise for providers and patients alike.

 

Patients prefer to see their own doctor virtually and will increasingly choose medical providers who offer virtual visit capabilities over those who don’t.  Similarly, providers want to see their own patients virtually, get paid for it and want video visits to integrate with their practice management workflow and the electronic health record (EHR).

Patients prefer that their telehealth provider knows them.

More than half (56 percent) of respondents to a 2015 consumer survey felt it was important to have an established relationship with a telemedicine provider and even more (60 percent) felt it was important for a provider to have access to their health records.1  Patients who experience video visits with their own doctor have both.

Consumers increasingly choose medical providers who offer digital and virtual video visit capabilities

More than half of patients surveyed expect digital capabilities and confirmed it would influence their choice in providers, according to 2019 consumer study by Accenture.  For example, 70 percent of patients surveyed are more likely to choose a provider that offers reminders for follow-up care via email or text and 49 percent are more likely to choose one that offers the ability to communicate with a doctor via video.2

 

And interest is growing; responses increased 13 percent compared to 2016.  Not surprisingly, younger consumers are leading the trend.

Providers want to see their own patients virtually.

Last year, NextGen Healthcare surveyed our provider clients to determine how best to support their telehealth needs and learned that 56 percent — more than half — use or plan to use telehealth. 4 Of those, an overwhelming majority (90 percent) preferred virtual video visits with established patients.4   Examples of these scheduled virtual visits include:

  • Follow-up visits for treatment compliance
  • Reviewing labs or images
  • Medication management and prescription refills
  • Pre- and post-procedure visits

Integration with practice management workflow and EHR is the key for provider adoption and payment.

Our survey and subsequent focus groups demonstrated the importance of integration of the virtual visit in existing workflows and EHR. 

 

Providers are adding virtual visit functionality to their services and want the same processes for virtual visits as they have for in-person visits, including scheduling, reminders, documentation and insurance or patient payment processing. This is important for adoption by physicians in the practice and payment for services.

 

Just like non-traditional care models, telehealth is on the rise. Providers who embrace the power of virtual care are going to pass those who don’t. Providing technology that is easy to use and integrated into the provider’s EHR will empower easier access.

 

With the advent of technology and healthcare merging into telehealth, providers and patients alike will experience optimal service and optimal care, something that is important to all of us expecting to receive quality care, whether at home or on the road.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Telemedicine Checklist

Telemedicine Checklist | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Telemedicine services are rapidly expanding, with many providers realizing that they can expand their reach and revenue by utilizing improved connectivity and convenient technology.

 

Telemedicine takes several forms, including consultation directly in the office, school-based consultation to provide emergency services to students, home video consultations, and even integration of biometric data from a person’s health wearables.

 

While telemedicine is indeed beneficial for all stakeholders, it is equally important for providers to make sure they are well-versed with the entire process before they step into it.

 

In order to offer effective primary care and enable truly coordinate care, providers must consider all the planning element that are part of successful telemedicine ventures.

 

Here are the important steps to be taken care of when starting telemedicine.

 

1. Identify Your Mission and Goals

 

Before you do anything to start the process at all, you must sit down and ask yourself certain questions. Why do you want to engage in telemedicine? What are your goals? Do you want to grow your practice? Are you looking to increase your access? Are you interested in saving time or making extra money? Do you think these goals are realizable?

 

It is imperative to have the answers to these basic questions in mind, so you know which path to take right from the beginning.

 

2. Identify Your Patients

 

Once you know what you want to do and have a rough plan on how to achieve it, you must determine your target market and create your patient panel.

 

Do you want to acquire new patients or merely communicate better with your existing patients? Which areas will your patients be in? What health issues will you focus on? Will your patients be tach-savvy millennials or older patients with caregivers? Knowing your patient panel will automatically narrow down and simplify the next steps in the process.

 

3. Create a Relevant Profile

 

As a provider, while you may have all your work experience listed down on your resume, it is essential to update it before diving into telemedicine and to make yourself seem suitable for the job.

 

It is important to update and highlight licenses, since these are critical in matching you with potential positions and patients. Additionally, make sure you make your remote experience stand out, if any. You should also emphasize on the additional skills needed for a telemedicine provider, for example, listening and conversational skills.

 

4. Manage Your Licenses

 

Having multi-state licenses will ensure that you get the most-suited telemedicine position. While telemedicine recruiters may help you in obtaining licenses, there is no denying that they are looking for providers who already have licenses secured before they apply for the job.

 

5. Research HIPAA-Compliant Platforms

 

When considering where to apply, you must research which telemedicine platforms are HIPAA compliant. You should also consider whether the platforms you are looking at are cloud-based, what equipment do they require, what are the training requirements and options, what are the billing procedures, will you need IT support, will you be able to import patient data into your EHR, etc. 

 

6. Reach Out to Telemedicine Recruiters

 

Do some research on the latest clinical outcomes and trends in telemedicine, and then reach out to a recruiter to find you jobs in the area of expertise you would like to focus on.

 

While you may search for jobs online, remember that this area of medicine is still relatively new, and recruiters can guide you and help you find the best jobs at top companies. Following this, make sure you speak to a few companies and evaluate their benefits before finalizing one.

 

7. Acquire Legal Consultation

 

It is wise to obtain legal advice on your telemedicine contract before you finalize it. This is especially necessary and beneficial if there are two organizations involve through your telemedicine practice.

 

You must take into account state laws like prescribing laws, which may be different in the area your patients are. To keep a track of these matters, it is recommended that you have a legal counselor’s services handy.

 

8. Assess Needs and Identify Resources

 

Identify the needs of your telemedicine practice and identify the resources that you have at hand, and those you will need to acquire.

 

At this point, you will also have to determine whether you need a team. If you do, you must focus on administrators, finance managers, clinical operations supervisors, and technical support personnel.

 

9. Set Up Your Office

 

This is perhaps the most important part of the telemedicine experience, because you will have to pick the perfect place to facilitate your telemedicine practice. Ideally, this can be a quiet and secluded corner of your home and must be set up to look professional on video calls.

 

It is also important to make sure you acquire the best technological equipment, since your computer and your internet connection will be your most important tools in the process.

 

10. Engage in Networking

 

Once you are ready to indulge into the process, you must then insert yourself into the telemedicine circle of professionals. If you don’t find any people doing this in your area, it is wise to use social media to reach out to fellow professionals. Communicate with peers and follow different organizations.

 

Additionally, attend telemedicine events around the country to create a constructive network and to learn from those doing similar work.

 

Taking care of these essential steps should ensure the smooth beginning of your telemedicine career. Over time, successful providers not only continue to take steps to improve their care delivery and maximize patient satisfaction, but they also stay connected with industry peers.

 

Eventually, if done right, this could be a life-changing move in your career and could potentially help you excel in the modern care delivery landscape.

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StrongBox: Your Medical/Dental Billing Software Solution

StrongBox: Your Medical/Dental Billing Software Solution | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

In today’s modern world, revenue cycle management and intuitive billing software are essential aspects
of any successful healthcare practice. Together, these tools can help reduce bad debt expense, increase
collections, and reduce overall costs. Here, our team at StrongBox explores how our medical/dental
billing software can be an invaluable asset to your practice. Once our software is in place, our clients
enjoy a number of benefits, all while making more money and working less.


#1: Increase Practice Efficiency
Administrative and billing tasks often take up a shocking amount of time. In fact, according to The
Commonwealth Fund, 20.6 hours are spent every week on health plan-related tasks. [1]  With better
organization, StrongBox can help your practice increase its workflow efficiency. Our proprietary
software integrates seamlessly with your practice management software, not only enabling faster note-
taking, but also helping your entire team stay organized throughout the work day.


#2: Decrease Practice Overhead
Many practice owners assume their billing headaches will go away if they hire more employees. On the
contrary, fewer staff members can actually streamline the process and keep costs down. The best way
to achieve this is to employ a reliable medical/dental billing software. At StrongBox, we design our
software to be user-friendly and intuitive. As a result, your staff spends less time on billing and more
time getting new patients through the door.


#3: Billing Transparency
Part of workflow efficiency is complete billing transparency. You need to know which claims have been
processed and if any have been denied. You also need to keep track of every charge and every
transaction. StrongBox’s medical/dental billing software can help you quickly assess the financial status
of every patient and catch any billing errors in the process.


#4: Increase Your Return on Investment (ROI)
If you’ve been in healthcare for a while, you know how quickly billing costs have risen, and continue to
do so. A positive return on investment is absolutely essential for a successful practice. By keeping
revenue up and keeping costs down, StrongBox medical/dental billing software can help you run your
practice efficiently and reap the rewards for your hard work.


#5: Best Practice Training
When choosing a medical/dental billing software, you want a company that can help train your team
and address any technical issues. At StrongBox, we not only have a team of IT experts, we also partner
with several experts in the dental and medical fields. This gives us a full understanding of your unique
needs as a practice, so we can build a software solution that will enhance your productivity.


Seamless Integration

 

We understand that shopping for new software solutions can seem daunting, especially since you likely
have a number of programs installed already. StrongBox’s billing software seamlessly integrates with
your practice management software of choice, making the transition as simple and as smooth as
possible. Furthermore, StrongBox also offers revenue cycle management as well as a patient payment
portal, making administrative tasks that much easier.

 

Learn More about StrongBox Medical/Dental Billing Software
If you are currently in the market for healthcare billing software, request a free demo from StrongBox.
We can help you assess your needs so we can deliver a fully customized software solution for your
practice. To learn more, contact our Boca Raton, FL office by calling (855) 468-7876.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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The Medical Internet of Things: What You Need to Know

The Medical Internet of Things: What You Need to Know | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Gartner has estimated that some 6.4 billion connected things will be in use by the end of 2016, with some 5.5 million new things getting connected every day. There’s been a clear boom in health and fitness wearables, with healthcare consumers investing in tracking devices – sometimes with their employer’s encouragement – and the MedTech industry has jumped on this in a big way.

 

Fascinating IoT applications are being developed today, often through unlikely partnerships. For example, medical devices company Medtronic is developing an application that transmits wearables data to the IBM Watson cognitive computing and predictive analytics platform. And Swiss pharma company Novartis is joining hands with Qualcomm to develop an internet-connected inhaler that can send information to a cloud-based big data analytics platform for healthcare providers to use in treating patients. These are exciting examples of how technology and analytics can support personalized medicine.

 

 

However, there are a couple of big issues that the IoT movement has to contend with when it comes to the Medical Internet of Things (IoT). These issues concern us as consumers, and they also concern our employers and our healthcare providers equally.

 

 

Data security:

 

The medtech industry is widely seen as unprepared for the security risk and vulnerability to hacking that their devices can cause for the rest of the healthcare system. This has im

Gartner has estimated that some 6.4 billion connected things will be in use by the end of 2016, with some 5.5 million new things getting connected every day. There’s been a clear boom in health and fitness wearables, with healthcare consumers investing in tracking devices – sometimes with their employer’s encouragement – and the MedTech industry has jumped on this in a big way.

 

Fascinating IoT applications are being developed today, often through unlikely partnerships. For example, medical devices company Medtronic is developing an application that transmits wearables data to the IBM Watson cognitive computing and predictive analytics platform. And Swiss pharma company Novartis is joining hands with Qualcomm to develop an internet-connected inhaler that can send information to a cloud-based big data analytics platform for healthcare providers to use in treating patients. These are exciting examples of how technology and analytics can support personalized medicine.

 

 

However, there are a couple of big issues that the IoT movement has to contend with when it comes to the Medical Internet of Things (IoT). These issues concern us as consumers, and they also concern our employers and our healthcare providers equally.

 

 

Data security:

 

The medtech industry is widely seen as unprepared for the security risk and vulnerability to hacking that their devices can cause for the rest of the healthcare system. This has immediate repercussions for consumers who may be unaware of the exposure of their personal medical information to cybercriminals. In addition, as healthcare providers start using medical information from these interconnected devices in a cloud-based environment, their enterprise IT, specifically electronic health record (EHR) systems, could be seriously compromised and vulnerable to hackers. And this brings us to the other, emerging issue that is beginning to get some attention in the exchange of IoT data.

 

 

Privacy and legal concerns:

 

While there are undisputable benefits for healthcare consumers as physicians gain access to medical information from a range of connected devices, there is a real threat to privacy as well. We start with the question of who owns the data. State law in the U.S varies when it comes to this question, and device makers and other software providers may lay claim to the data which can be used against consumers. At the same time, collecting personal data through devices imposes a set of legal requirements on enterprises, starting with proper disclosures about the collection and use of the information.

 

Many healthcare providers are leery of collecting any IoT data because of a combination of these factors. In my recent conversations with CISO-level executives, I sensed a real concern around the potential for these connected devices to do harm to enterprises through cyberattacks. In addition, there may be unexpected consequences of collecting this data, such as employers being held accountable for wrongfully using the data in termination-related lawsuits.

 

Increasingly, these complex issues are drawing the attention of regulators who are mandated to protect consumer interests and safeguard privacy. Indeed, this may cause a dilemma to medical device manufacturers who want to provide consumers with a rich experience on the one hand but also need to comply with FDA rules and complex requirements. The recent case of FDA intervention in the case of lab test company Theranos is also a cautionary tale for companies looking to play “fast and loose” with new technologies that may put consumers at risk.

 

 

Eventually, all these challenges will need to be overcome, simply because the potential benefits of using IoT data for improving health and wellness far exceed the downsides and risks. However, the challenge we face is that technology is evolving at an explosive pace and the regulatory and legal infrastructures are unprepared for the sudden increase in complexity that all this causes. We are going to see very interesting times ahead.

mediate repercussions for consumers who may be unaware of the exposure of their personal medical information to cybercriminals. In addition, as healthcare providers start using medical information from these interconnected devices in a cloud-based environment, their enterprise IT, specifically electronic health record (EHR) systems, could be seriously compromised and vulnerable to hackers. And this brings us to the other, emerging issue that is beginning to get some attention in the exchange of IoT data.

 

 

Privacy and legal concerns:

 

While there are undisputable benefits for healthcare consumers as physicians gain access to medical information from a range of connected devices, there is a real threat to privacy as well. We start with the question of who owns the data. State law in the U.S varies when it comes to this question, and device makers and other software providers may lay claim to the data which can be used against consumers. At the same time, collecting personal data through devices imposes a set of legal requirements on enterprises, starting with proper disclosures about the collection and use of the information.

 

Many healthcare providers are leery of collecting any IoT data because of a combination of these factors. In my recent conversations with CISO-level executives, I sensed a real concern around the potential for these connected devices to do harm to enterprises through cyberattacks. In addition, there may be unexpected consequences of collecting this data, such as employers being held accountable for wrongfully using the data in termination-related lawsuits.

 

Increasingly, these complex issues are drawing the attention of regulators who are mandated to protect consumer interests and safeguard privacy. Indeed, this may cause a dilemma to medical device manufacturers who want to provide consumers with a rich experience on the one hand but also need to comply with FDA rules and complex requirements. The recent case of FDA intervention in the case of lab test company Theranos is also a cautionary tale for companies looking to play “fast and loose” with new technologies that may put consumers at risk.

 

 

Eventually, all these challenges will need to be overcome, simply because the potential benefits of using IoT data for improving health and wellness far exceed the downsides and risks. However, the challenge we face is that technology is evolving at an explosive pace and the regulatory and legal infrastructures are unprepared for the sudden increase in complexity that all this causes. We are going to see very interesting times ahead.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Contact Details :
inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com/tdr

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Breach Risk Analysis: A four-step plan

Breach Risk Analysis: A four-step plan | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Data breaches have long been a nuisance for many industries, including healthcare and financial services.

 

In the age of our current public health crisis, HIPAA-covered entities must follow all reasonable safeguards to protect the privacy of their patients who may be infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).  However, the HIPAA Privacy Rule does offer some accommodations in such cases.

 

Business owners need to be prepared, and should always have a plan in place should a worse-case scenario occur.  One method of preparation is to understand what is a Breach Risk Analysis.

In this blog, we will give tips on how to plan for a data breach and what to do when one occurs.

Got breached? Implement a four-step plan

A data breach occurs when sensitive information about an individual is lost, stolen, hacked, or inappropriately disclosed.  Any time an organization suspects that one of these incidents has occurred, it should immediately perform a Breach Risk Analysis. 

This analysis can be conducted by implementing this four-step plan:

  1. Determine what type of data was involved
  2. Determine which person or organization the data was stolen by or disclosed to
  3. Determine if the person or organization acquired or viewed the data
  4. Document mitigating actions that were taken by the organization.

Let's stay a closer look at each step. 

Determine the type of data that was stolen

The first step the organization should take is to examine the type of data that was involved in a breach.  This step is crucial, as it helps the organization understand the significance of the data that may have been exposed. 

Even if the information breached seems minimal, it needs to be determined if information about an individual can be reconstructed.

If the breached data is found to contain sensitive information, such as client names, dates of birth, and social security numbers, the organization may have to enact extra services like extending credit reporting to the affected individuals. 

Determine which person or organization the data was stolen by or disclosed to

This step allows the organization to understand the parties involved in the breach and their responsibilities and motivations as it related to the exposed data.

 

For example, if a healthcare organization accidentally discloses Protected Health Information to another healthcare organization, that healthcare organization is still bound by HIPAA rules to protect the privacy and security of that patient data. However, if the same patient information is inadvertently disclosed to a private business or individual, the obligation to protect data is not in place.

 

If the data is found to be accessed by criminals, such as hackers, the organization must assume more nefarious attentions. 

 

Hackers are more likely to sell data so crimes like fraud or identity theft are likely committed. Anytime sensitive data is accessed by hackers or criminals, the organization should consider involving legal representation and law enforcement.

 

Determining if the person or organization acquired or viewed the data 

This difficult but necessary step allows an organization to determine if sensitive information was actually viewed by a unauthorized third party. 

 

Therefore, if the data breach involved something like spyware or ransomware, the organization must perform a forensic analysis to ascertain if not only information was viewed, but also ex-filtrated.

 

Other instances of breaches may involve sensitive information being sent to the wrong party, such as an errant fax or email.  In these instances, it is important for the organization to confirm that the recipient has properly disposed of the sensitive information.

Document mitigating actions made

Organizations should not wait until the level of exposure from a breach is determined before they start performing mitigating actions. 

 

If the breach had a technical aspect, such as ransomware, the organization must document actions such as restoring backups, removing malicious software, and any forensic analysis that was performed.

 

If the breach involved improper disclosure, the organization should document that the data was properly disposed of by the third party.

 

Organizations will always be at risk for data breaches.  The best step they can take is to be prepared for when this happens, not if.

It is always a best practice to have a breach response plan in place, and any organization can put one together by incorporating the four steps described in this blog.

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inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
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What You Need to Know About Secure Mobile Messaging in Healthcare

What You Need to Know About Secure Mobile Messaging in Healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Digital Health Communication and Messaging

Digital information is everywhere, including medical institutions where it is now common practice to utilize electronic medical records. This can be a good thing, making patient care more efficient and effective. However, it can also be an easy doorway for data thieves to access private information.

 

Many doctors and nurses utilize mobile data to aid in their daily tasks from accessing clinical data to communicating with other staff members.

 

Many primary care providers also regularly use text messaging as a way to communicate with patients for appointment bookings and cancellations. Text messaging is a quick and easy way to do this.

HIPAA

The U.S.’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 exists, in part, to protect personally identifiable information when being used by the healthcare industry, through regulating how it can be used and communicated. Specifically, the HIPAA Security Rule stipulates that numerous safeguards be employed by administrative and medical staff to protect personal information, including the use of encryption in digital communication where possible.

 

If medical staff and institutions follow the safeguards required by HIPAA, there shouldn’t be cause for concern. However, HIPAA doesn’t require encryption non-discriminately across the board, and there is always the possibility of human error and negligence. In particular, smaller clinics which previously had minimal security procedures in place have found it particularly challenging to comply with the requirements of HIPAA.

Safeguarding Medical Information

So, what can be done to safeguard medical communications? Secure text messaging is a viable option, though it is challenging to implement on a whole-scale level and depends a great deal on employee participation. One study found that only 31 percent of medical staff were encrypting information as standard practice before sending it to the cloud. Apps exist that will encrypt text messages, but every single device sending and receiving these texts has to be using the same system.

 

However, medical staff also need to consider the chance that someone other than their intended recipient may view their messages, making it imperative that personally identifiable information be communicated in a way that maintains patient privacy.

 

Ideally, a medical facility’s IT department will spearhead the efforts to get everyone on board. But this becomes increasingly difficult with nationwide coverage of medical care. It is one thing to secure one system.

 

It is quite another to secure two systems or hundreds of systems, as is the case with many of the larger institutions.

 

If it is deemed too daunting a task for the whole company to establish an all-encompassing encryption service. At the bare minimum, each employee’s device should use its own encryption app, and the use of encryption should be monitored with employees being held responsible for failure to comply. In addition to encryption, a passcode should be made mandatory on every device.

 

Finally, medical staff should never assume that having access to a patient’s mobile number means that they have given their consent to be contacted via text message.

 

Consent should be gained by each patient before any text-based communication occurs, and the patient should be informed that any messages sent or received may become part of their medical record.

 

Since there is no way to cease the use of smart devices or text messaging in this day and age, establishing secure mobile messaging in healthcare is a must.

 

Medical information is among the most sensitive and expensive information out there and when, or if, it gets into the wrong hands. The consequences could be far-reaching and devastating. A patient seeking medical help should not have to be concerned for the security of their personal information.

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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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eHealth Initiative: New Payment Models Driving Population Health

eHealth Initiative: New Payment Models Driving Population Health | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Value-based payment models aren't going away, making population health initiatives ever more critical, Tricia Nguyen, executive vice president for population health at Texas Health Resources, said during a webinar presenting results from the eHealth Initiative's latest population health survey. 

 

Nguyen, who also serves as president of the Texas Health Population Health, Education & Innovation Center, warned against the wait-and-see attitude some are taking.

 

Among 59 responses of individuals used from accountable care organizations, hospitals and health systems, physician practices, health insurance companies and elsewhere, 68.1 percent said they had created new roles or hired staff for population health.

 

Additionally, 68.1 percent said they had begun activities and 76.6 percent had purchased population health or analytics technology; 72.3 percent anticipate making such investments.

 

Nguyen said there's no single best technology for population health, but there are best-of-breed solutions from multiple vendors. Interoperability remains a huge problem, though, she added.

 

She also pointed to a study that found patients were contacted up to 15 times in the days following hospital discharge because various providers can't share data.

 

Population health management activities, according to the survey, are most often aimed at readmission risk (81 percent), multiple chronic conditions (79 percent), ER super users (77 percent) and specific diseases (70 percent).

 

Eighty-three percent of respondents said they measure success by intermediate outcomes and healthcare processes (72 percent), cost savings (70 percent) and patient satisfaction (70 percent). Thirty-seven percent said they're integrating patient-reported data.

 

These percentages far surpass the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services's goal of having 30 percent of providers in value-based payment models by the end of 2016, suggesting the results are skewed, said moderator Charles Kennedy, CEO of Accountable Care Solutions at Aetna.

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ACA's Mandate To Buy Coverage May Be GOP-Friendly

ACA's Mandate To Buy Coverage May Be GOP-Friendly | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Whether it’s a penalty to pick a drug plan under Medicare or the new Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act or the President’s health law alone, penalties abound for being uninsured.

A new analysis by the Urban Institute said “individual responsibility” requirements akin to the controversial individual mandate included in the Affordable Care Act requiring individuals to buy coverage or face a tax penalty also exist in other health reform proposals and existing health insurance programs.


Some, like the Medicare Part D drug coverage for seniors and Medicare Part B’s physician services for the elderly, have been in place for years. Another, a new Republican proposal to replace the ACA, also has its penalties.


The so-called “Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act” or PCARE, proposed by Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan and GOP Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Richard Burr of North Carolina would “impose strong penalties on the uninsured,” Urban Institute health policy researchers Linda Blumberg and John Holahan wrote in their analysis out this week called, “the New Bipartisan Consensus for an Individual Mandate.”


“Specifically, if individuals fail to maintain continuous coverage, they can be medically underwritten or effectively denied insurance in the nongroup market,” the Urban Institute’s authors wrote of the Hatch-Burr-Upton legislation. “Medicare Parts B and D also have provisions that penalize individuals for failing to promptly enroll in coverage for the same reason, yet this approach to an individual mandate has not been controversial.”


All of the proposals share the common thread that health insurance, particularly coverage that involves the private insurance market, need an individual responsibility component to ensure healthy people are in the insurance risk pool. Without healthy people buying coverage and paying premiums, claims submitted largely by sick policyholders would lead to soaring health care costs.


The individual responsibility provision has long been the stance of health care interests like the American Medical Association and the health insurance lobby, America’s Health Insurance Plans, which represents Aetna (AET), Cigna (CI), Humana (HUM), UnitedHealth Group (UNH) and most Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.

“If you want to keep a private market-centered approach and prevent discrimination in insurance against those with health problems, you have to have a mechanism that brings in and holds in the healthy,” Blumberg, seniors fellow at the Urban Institute’s health policy center told Forbes in an interview. “You have to have an individual mandate to hold the healthy into the insurance risk pools.”


The GOP’s Obamacare replacement requires individuals to have insurance “continuously for 18 months to be guaranteed access to a private nongroup insurance policy,” the Institute said in a statement accompanying their analysis. Meanwhile, the ACA imposes tax penalties for those individuals who go without insurance for more than three months in any given year. And Medicare Parts B and D have penalties that are much steeper than the ACA’s for those who delay enrolling after they become eligible.


“Under both programs, penalties are assessed on those who enroll, disenroll and then enroll again,” the institute fellows wrote.


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