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How to integrate your Phone System with Google Apps through CTI?

How to integrate your Phone System with Google Apps through CTI? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

With VoIP (voice over internet protocol), companies are now able to access cheaper, more accessible phone systems all over the world. While VoIP phones have become common, particularly in North America and Europe, there is still a broad growth trend in Asian, African, and Latin American markets. Asian Pacific Markets expect an estimated 14% growth over the next five years, a significant increase considering the dense technological saturation in the area, caused primarily by escalating high-speed communications networks.

 

In markets where there isn’t such an extreme jump in internet infrastructure, there are also significant gains in the adoption of IP phone technology. In Africa, VoIP growth is stunning (80% in South Africa, for example). Because governments own traditional phone infrastructure in Africa, and also because of the challenges expanding utilities to less urban or more isolated areas, mobile VoIP has been replacing traditional phone systems for emerging and growing businesses.

 

Given contemporary global markets and the push toward global expansion, even companies that have long-established traditional phone infrastructure are adopting VoIP systems for their call centers and sales teams. Global calls are more than just person-to-person voice; they now include video, conferencing, and text, whether in Asia, Europe, or North America.

 

With VoIP phone systems, businesses can integrate their phones to their computers and smoothly connect all aspects of sales and service. SMEs and larger enterprises can all benefit from merging data and communications functions; with IP phones, users gain key communication features, all the while letting their VoIP service providers handle IT, updates, and data hosting. Businesses, regardless of size, can benefit from efficiently merging voice and data functions and gaining innovative communication features, while their VoIP service provider takes care of the technology.

 

CTI (computer telephony integration) software lets users integrate their phones with their CRM or ERP platforms to provide more efficient, cheaper, and easier customer communications.

 

With sales, agents can contact more potential clients, improve customer/agent interaction, and create a more collaborative sales team performance. With service, CTI software gives customers options of self-service or live agents, gives automatic call routing, reduces handle times, and gives management the opportunity to review call center performance.

 

It follows by implication that it’s important for businesses to find the best VoIP phone system and CRM for their needs. Some companies need a comprehensive system that works seamlessly across a host of different silos, whereas other businesses need customizable specifics for one element (IT, for example). Businesses must understand their budgets, dominant departments, as well as the need for scalability, and make decisions accordingly.

 
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Rural Health Professions Training: Teaching Medical Students the Benefits of Telemedicine

Rural Health Professions Training: Teaching Medical Students the Benefits of Telemedicine | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

For medical students with the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, weeks of suspense will end on March 15. Otherwise known as Match Day, it’s the day the students will learn where they will go for their residency training, in their chosen medical field, after they graduate from medical school in May.

 

Sarah Joy Ring, who has completed the College of Medicine – Tucson’s Rural Health Professions Program and a 16-week Rural Health Distinction Track, is hoping for a residency focused on both pediatrics and emergency medicine, potentially in a rural location.  Her “capstone” paper, an in-depth research project that all Distinction Track students are expected to complete, carries the impressive title of “A Survey of Rural Emergency Medicine and the Discrepancy of Care for Pediatric Patients that Present to Rural Emergency Departments.”

 

During her training, she had opportunities to see how important telemedicine can be in rural communities.

 

“I was at sites that had telemedicine capabilities and spent some time chatting with the physicians about them. "I can specifically remember two experiences, one while on my family medicine rotation in Tuba City (in northern Arizona, where students learn about American Indian healthcare) and one during my RHPP summer in Flagstaff” (also in northern Arizona).

“Tuba City experiences a significant shortage of mental health providers in general, and specifically for children and adolescents," Sarah says.

“As such, they found using telemedicine helpful to connect the children of that region with services that they would otherwise struggle to receive, due to having to travel large distances to receive help, which incurs financial and time burdens for families.

“Moreover, a point that I found particularly enlightening when learning about this service, was with regard to what it means to live in a small population where it is quite likely you know most people living in the region," Sarah says.

“The physicians found that because of this, many adolescents experiencing difficulties often felt uncomfortable sharing with people who lived in the region, out of fear that they may tell someone, or that they were themselves a relative or family friend, which can be a common experience. Having someone to share with who lived out of the region and was not specifically invested in the region and an integral member of the community made many of these adolescents more comfortable with disclosing their experiences.  

“I also worked on writing about how telemedicine can be used to augment pediatric services in rural emergency departments for part of my "capstone" project and found some very positive results from multiple studies. For critically ill patients, one study found that in particular, telemedicine consults improved the access to critical care specialists, resulting in a reduced frequency of physician-related medication errors. Moreover, another study found that parent satisfaction was higher with telemedicine consults than with phone consults, which is a particularly important outcome when caring for pediatric patients and their family. Many of these same findings also translated to the pre-hospital environment, where ambulances that utilized telemedicine resulted in better assessments, more interventions in the pre-hospital environment, and improved outcomes for pediatric patients in pre-hospital care. 

“Overall," Sarah says, I think that we will continue to find that telemedicine is an excellent resource for rural providers that allows patients to have clinically significant access to additional resources and care that would otherwise be difficult or unavailable to the region."

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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.

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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.

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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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Health Care IT Innovation: The Best is Yet to Come

Health Care IT Innovation: The Best is Yet to Come | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

"It's just a painful business to be in. I think the regulatory burden in the United States is so high that it would dissuade a lot of entrepreneurs."

Indeed, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, speaking at a venture capital conference last summer, hints at the sentiment shared by many — that the intense regulation surrounding the health care industry has the potential to stifle innovation, particularly from a health care information technology perspective.

On the contrary, regulatory policy can actually help spur innovation — regulation and innovation can and do coexist. For the last several years, HIT adoption in the United States has been driven by regulation — the meaningful use incentives. At the same time, the industry has experienced unprecedented growth in HIT innovation.

An Era of Accelerated Innovation

While the pace of meaningful use needs to be moderated, and many of the electronic health record requirements seem to verge on micromanagement, there's no denying that the significant expansion of the industry's HIT foundation — EHRs, analytics, electronic prescribing and health information exchange — can be attributed to the 2009 HIT legislation known as the HITECH Act. Consider the following:

  • Hospital adoption of EHR systems has increased more than fivefold since 2008.
  • In 2013, nearly 78 percent of office-based physicians had adopted some type of EHR system. About half of all physicians (48 percent) adopted a basic EHR system with select features in 2013, more than doubling the basic system adoption rate in 2009.
  • Electronic health information exchange among hospital and outside providers grew 51 percent from 2008 to 2013.
  • Experts predict that advanced health data analytics will continue to grow significantly, from a 10 percent adoption rate in 2011 to 50 percent by 2016.
  • Seventy percent of providers nationwide are now using electronic prescribing through their EHRs, a tenfold increase since 2008.

This level of IT use creates a context that accelerates innovation. Innovation occurs within EHR and health information exchange products, for example, and the adoption levels provide a sizable IT foundation upon which other innovations can take place. For instance, with a large base of EHRs, the innovation of personal health records can be accelerated.

A Societal Shift

The meaningful use program is not the only factor providing a supportive context for HIT innovation.

Health provider leaders have become progressively aware of the need for substantial investments in HIT if their organizations are to address the challenges presented by material changes in payment strategies and tactics. Moreover, these leaders are part of a generation that grew up with computers — they played Pong, wrote high school papers on personal computers and saw the introduction of minicomputers enabling departmental systems. This generation is more comfortable with HIT than its predecessors.
 
But, perhaps the most important factor influencing HIT innovation is the relentless IT product, service and business-model innovation we experience in all facets of life.

Our world has been transformed fundamentally by the influx of digital devices into our daily lives. Technology has democratized and consumerized nearly every major industry, from retail to banking to air (and even city) travel, within the past few decades.

Want to avoid the hassle of hailing a taxi and instead sip a latte while you track your driver's whereabouts on your phone? Simple: Download the Uber app.

Although there's nothing particularly novel about consumer preference toward a shiny black car over a yellow cab — or the use of GPS to track a vehicle's location, paying for a service directly on your phone (tip included), or providing instant feedback on said service — Uber's founders creatively combined these features to the delight of its customers. With a throng of early adopters in tow, Uber literally drove full steam ahead into another heavily regulated industry, disrupting entrenched incumbents and mature supply chains in major cities across the country and around the world.

And while Uber's success has also come with its share of challenges and growing pains — including court battles with regulators and city councils, PR crises, lawsuits and international bans — we are wise to remember that some battles are worth fighting, especially when the potential exists to enable dramatic improvements in service quality.

Uber is one of many examples of information technology permeating our lives, and is a terrific example of IT innovation. This extraordinary overall IT innovation phenomenon has strengthened the innovation context in health care. Not only can we import these advances into health care, but we also have a deeper understanding of IT's potential.

Playing to Win

The collective impact of federal actions, IT-savvy leadership and the dynamic IT marketplace has led to a significant increase in the level of HIT innovation. A scan of the current landscape shows that HIT innovation is coming primarily from five main sources:

HIT startups/entrepreneurs. According to StartUp Health, slightly more than a billion dollars was invested in HIT startups in 2010. By 2013, investments rose to $2.9 billion via 590 deals. And in 2014, approximately $6.5 billion went into HIT startups, more than doubling the 2013 funding. Furthermore, top incubators such as Rock Health, Dreamit Ventures and Blueprint Health are funding and supporting anywhere from 50 to 100-plus startups at any given time.

Traditional HIT companies. From a traditional HIT company's standpoint, patents are often a telling metric for innovation. In the last five years, Siemens, Microsoft, Cerner, McKesson, Optum, Epic and Allscripts have been responsible for a combined total of 526 patents granted in HIT. Prior to 2009, the combined total of the same group of vendors stood at 150.

Additionally, today we see more and more HIT vendors opening up their software for innovation by others. Cerner, Allscripts and Athenahealth have opened up their platforms, enabling third-party developers to integrate their technology with the EHR vendor platform.

Athenahealth aims to further encourage entrepreneurship through its HIT accelerator program. Complementing its own development efforts with a network collaboration approach, the company actively recruits and fosters startups to expand its range of services for physicians.

New and interesting collaborations among the leading HIT vendors and forward-thinking providers are also yielding impressive early results. For example, the Healthcare Services Platform Consortium has its eye on advanced interoperability as well as sharing more complex processes, such as clinical workflows and clinical decision support logic among different EHR vendors' platforms. The group's work thus far is both impressive and tangible.

Traditional IT companies. They've become global household names to just about everyone from grade-schoolers to senior citizens, and they recently have set their sights on health care. Companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook are poised to grab significant health care market share as the industry continues to digitize and shift more power into the hands of health care consumers.

For example, Apple's HealthKit platform debuted with its iOS 8 release and offers the ability to track and share a vast array of health, fitness and medical data points through multiple apps and devices, essentially turning your iPhone into both a fitness/wellness tool and a personal health care assistant complete with a medical ID feature.

Samsung, which rivals Apple in the smartphone market, continues to tweak its Simband health tracker, which uses a variety of sensors to measure biometric data such as blood flow, EKG levels and skin temperature.

Not to be outdone, Google unveiled its wearable technology platform known as Google Fit last year. The company's health care strategy also includes smart contact lenses that monitor bodily functions such as blood sugar levels detected in human tears by minuscule sensors. Less invasive than the traditional finger stick method, Google's approach may resonate well with the millions of diabetes sufferers.

Joining its Silicon Valley neighbors Apple and Google, Facebook also appears to "like" the health care space. Although Facebook's intentions are less well-defined, app and content development, as well as online support communities, would be a natural fit for the social networking giant.

Whether or not these Silicon Valley giants' efforts take hold in health care, their presence in the market should make the established players — traditional HIT vendors, payers and providers alike — step up our collective innovation games in patient engagement, usability and design of systems, and in delivering a more personalized health care experience.

Medical informatics/academia. Organizations like the American Medical Informatics Association and its members fuel the science of informatics, which, in turn, drives innovation. Naturally, there are reasonable connections between the vendor community and the medical informatics community.

For example, AMIA corporate members include many of the large HIT vendors and traditional IT vendors such as Oracle and IBM. Likewise, many AMIA members are employed within the vendor community. In fact, approximately 13 percent of AMIA's members work in industry.

Also demonstrating academia's ties to innovation, of those startups funded from November 2013 through November 2014, 20 percent include a co-founder who is an academic or licensed from an academic institution.

Adjacent players (e.g., drug stores, payers, life sciences). Large retail pharmacy chains like Walgreens and CVS have been taking dramatic steps to expand their business models and services, emphasizing tools and partnerships to improve care coordination and help consumers to manage chronic diseases better.

While CVS has gone as far as opening a technology development center that will focus on building customer-centric experiences in health care, Walgreens is actively pursuing its telemedicine strategy.

Payers also are busy making moves in the HIT space. For example, focusing on the consumer, Cigna now offers a digital coaching program and ecosystem of mobile tools, social media engagement, gamification and Web-based incentives to help its members meet their health goals.

UnitedHealth Group's Optum unit is seeing good traction among providers using its cloud-based population health analytics capabilities and decision-support solutions. And for its part, Aetna invests in acquiring or building a variety of solutions so that accountable care organizations can deliver more efficient patient care and better outcomes.

Pharmaceutical and life sciences companies such as Pfizer and Merck also are responding to the digital enablement of health care through investments in new technologies and partnerships that help to identify the right treatment for the right patient at the right time.

Living in Harmony

In our ongoing quest to improve care quality and reduce its cost, innovation has long been the hallmark of American health care. With new challenges mounting as we move from a volume to value-based system and progress further into meaningful use requirements, we must make certain that innovation continues to be the driving force behind our nation's health care system — and that we strike the right balance among product, process and business-model innovation.

Growth in IT innovation from both established health care players and new entrants is welcome and important. However, it will place additional stress on providers. Which innovations are mature and potent? How does the organization adopt and use these new technologies well? How is my vendor handling this? And so on.

Stress of this nature adds to the stress of delivering superior patient care while responding to payment pressures, new regulations and IT demands such as ICD-10 and further meaningful use stages. While deciding which HIT innovations are sufficiently potent and mature to adopt at scale is difficult, there is no doubt that these innovations will accelerate our collective efforts toward improving how care is delivered and managed.


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ProModel Analytics Solutions's curator insight, February 18, 2015 12:45 PM

Level of IT use creates a context that accelerates innovation.

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HIPAA Physical Security is Just as Important as Cyber-Security

HIPAA Physical Security is Just as Important as Cyber-Security | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
HIPAA Physical Security is Just as Important as Cyber-Security

There are many misconceptions when it comes to HIPAA and security controls for covered entities. While security is related to technical measures such as encryption, firewalls, and security risk assessments, it also addresses physical and administrative safeguards that must be in place to protect patient information. In order to comply with HIPAA regulation, healthcare organizations must address each standard and safeguard outlined in the HIPAA Security Rule.

 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has now released new information further emphasizing the importance of physical safeguards for healthcare organizations across the country. HIPAA not only requires technical controls to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of protected health information (PHI) but also proper physical security controls.

 

Physical safeguards are generally seen as the simplest and cheapest forms of protecting PHI, yet many organizations tend to overlook this important element of security. There are even some physical security controls that cost nothing- such as simply locking up portable electronic devices when they are not in use (laptops, portable storage devices, and pen drives).

 

Although this may seem like a very basic form of security, it is one of the most effective ways of preventing theft. To illustrate the importance of HIPAA physical security safeguards, OCR focuses on a 2015 HIPAA settlement with Lahey Hospital and Medical Center that affected 599 patients. This breach and subsequent HIPAA fine were triggered by the theft of an unencrypted laptop from the Tufts Medical School-affiliated teaching hospital.

 

The laptop was stolen from an unlocked treatment room off an inner corridor of the radiology department and contained ePHI. Lahey Hospital was fined $850,000 for failing to implement physical controls–a high price to pay for something that could have been avoided if some simple physical security safeguards were in place.

 

Prior to the Lahey Hospital settlement, QCA Health Plan paid $250,000 to OCR in 2014 for potential HIPAA violations. QCA Health Plan neglected to implement physical safeguards for all workstations to restrict access to ePHI to authorized users only. In this case, an unencrypted laptop was stolen from an employee’s vehicle.

 

Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) also settled a HIPAA violation with OCR in 2012 for $1.5 million. Again, this incident was related to the theft of an unencrypted laptop, resulting in the exposure of patients’ ePHI.

 

In 2016, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research settled potential HIPAA violations with OCR for $3.9 million. Feinstein Institute failed to physically secure a laptop that was stolen from an employee’s vehicle containing the ePHI of 13,000 patients.

 

In July 2016, the University of Mississippi Medical Center was fined $2,750,000 for a failure to implement HIPAA physical security safeguards. An unencrypted laptop that contained ePHI of approximately 10,000 patients was stolen from its Medical Intensive Care Unit.

Preventing HIPAA Physical Security Breaches

It is up to covered entities and their business associates to decide on the most appropriate physical security safeguards that will protect their patients’ ePHI. One way organizations can implement these physical security controls is by adopting an effective compliance program.

 

Compliance Group gives health care organizations confidence in their HIPAA compliance with The Guard. The Guard is our HIPAA compliance web-app that covers every element of HIPAA compliance.

 

Our Compliance Coaches will guide users through every step of their compliance program with the help of our HIPAA compliance web-app. The Guard is built to address the full extent of HIPAA regulation, including everything needed to implement an effective HIPAA compliance program that will help safeguard your practice from violations and fines.

 

With The Guard, health care professionals will not only address their physical security safeguards but the technical and administrative safeguards as well, along with the other HIPAA requirements.

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Why Cyber Security is Key to Enterprise Risk Management for all Organizations?

Why Cyber Security is Key to Enterprise Risk Management for all Organizations? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Large organizations have always focused on managing risk, but the technological breakthroughs that have enhanced our world in countless ways have also transformed how leading executives engage in enterprise risk management (ERM). The pervasive and ever-expanding threat of cybercrime means that comprehensive strategies for cybersecurity are now absolutely essential for all organizations.

 

After all, a report by Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that cybercrime across the globe will cost more than $6 trillion annually by 2021.

 

The sheer magnitude and pervasiveness of the crisis represent a cybersecurity call to arms, and seemingly no one is immune. By now, the list of data breach victims reads like a who’s who of major corporations, governmental agencies, retailers, restaurant chains, universities, social media sites and more:

 

  • The Department of Homeland Security, IRS, FBI, NSA, DoD
  • Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale’s
  • Facebook, Reddit, Yahoo, eBay, LinkedIn
  • Panera, Arby’s, Whole Foods, Wendy’s
  • Target, CVS, Home Depot, Best Buy
  • Delta, British Airways, Orbitz
  • Equifax, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase
  • The Democratic National Committee
  • Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, Under Armour
  • UC Berkeley, Penn State, Johns Hopkins

 

If you need another reason to drop everything and prioritize cybersecurity risk management in your organization’s overall ERM strategies and systems, consider the recent NotPetya malware attack. Described by Wired as “The Most Devastating Cyberattack in History,” it disrupted global shipping operations for several weeks and caused more than $10 billion in total damages while temporarily crippling such multinational companies as shipping giant Maersk and FedEx’s European subsidiary, TNT Express. All because hackers were able to infiltrate a networked but unsecured server in the Ukraine that was running software that made it more vulnerable to attack.

 

Despite these and countless other costly incidents and attacks, many organizations have not yet fully incorporated cybersecurity risks into their overall enterprise risk management frameworks.

3 Chief Obstacles to Cyber Security and ERM Preparedness

The ever-expanding list of high-profile attacks and victims could be seen as evidence that, in many instances, “the adversaries are winning,” according to Richard Spires, a former chief information officer at both the IRS and the Department of Homeland Security. Or at least that there is much work to be done to combat the ongoing threat.

 

In a piece titled “The Enterprise Risk Management Approach to Cybersecurity,” Spires poses the question: “In an era of ever more sophisticated cybersecurity tools, how is it that we are actually backsliding as a community?” And he offers three key answers:

 

  1. Complexity: IT (and cybersecurity) systems are by their nature extremely complex and in many cases far-flung, so creating airtight security is incredibly challenging.
  2. Highly Skilled Adversaries: The hackers’ tactics and methods continue to grow more sophisticated. Plus, their risk is low because they are hard to catch. They are smart and, with billions of dollars on the line, more highly motivated than ever.
  3. Lack of IT professionals: Cisco reports that 1 million cybersecurity jobs are currently unfilled on a worldwide basis and that “most large organizations struggle to find, develop and then retain such talent.” The shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals with the right skills, knowledge, and experience is an ongoing “crisis,” according to Forbes.

 

One of the leading efforts to develop protocols that organizations can use to safeguard themselves is sponsored by the U.S. Government — the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework.

 

According to Gartner, more than 50 percent of U.S.-based organizations will use the NIST Cybersecurity Framework as a central component of their enterprise risk management strategy by 2020, up from 30 percent in 2015. This voluntary framework consists of “standards, guidelines, and best practices to manage cybersecurity-related risk,” according to NIST, which reports that version 1.1 of the Cybersecurity Framework has been downloaded over 205,000 times since April 2018.

 

Also, the Center for Internet Security (CIS) has produced “a prioritized set of (20) actions to defend against pervasive cyber threats.” CIS says its protocols are intended to provide “a roadmap for conducting rigorous and regular cybersecurity enterprise risk management processes that will significantly lower an organization’s risk of catastrophic loss.”

 

CIS, which claims its best practices could have prevented attacks like the data breach that hit the consumer credit reporting agency Equifax, also offers guidelines for the seemingly “overwhelming” challenge of how to build a cybersecurity compliance plan.

5 Helpful Tips for Cyber Security and Enterprise Risk Management

OK, how about some actionable tips for organizations looking to beef up their cybersecurity defenses and risk management profile? Chris Yule, a senior principal consultant for SecureWorks, breaks it down in laymen’s terms in a quick video. Yule’s five tips include:

 

  • Cultivate support of senior management — It is essential for organizations to have strong support for cybersecurity risk management on the senior management team and to tie it to their overall business strategy.

 

  • Limit your attack surface — Often referred to as “hardening” your potential targets and vulnerabilities, this refers to coordinating with IT in reducing your exposure and “locking things down.”

 

  • Increasing visibility/awareness — In addition to building up defenses to reduce risk, organizations must also “tear things down.” This means working to better understand the potential spectrum of risk by conducting comprehensive internal vulnerability scanning, penetration testing and “monitoring your infrastructure for the bad stuff.”

 

  • Build a culture of security among employees — Employees must be committed to cybersecurity and clearly understand their specific responsibilities. “Make sure that everybody’s trained, everybody knows what their role is within the organization to keep things secure,” said Yule.

 

  • Prepare an incident response plan — “You need to be prepared for when things go wrong,” warned Yule. Notice that he says when and not if. “Everybody will get breached at some point regardless of what you do,” said Yule, so it is essential that everybody knows “what the plan is to contain and eradicate that threat when it happens.”

 

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Information Risk Management Still Needs Improvement

Information Risk Management Still Needs Improvement | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Cybersecurity threats and attacks across various business sectors are on the rise pressuring for organizations to continuously assess the risks to any information. While the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has garnered a lot of buzz in 2018, many standards and regulations in the United States also require cybersecurity.

 

But what are the technical details and operational steps needed to meet the high level guidance on cybersecurity risk? A recent Advisen survey revealed some interesting statistics:

 

  • 35% of respondents rated data integrity risks as “high risk” versus only 22% that of rated business continuity risks, or cyber related business interruption
  • Only 60% of the risk professionals surveyed said their executive management team viewed cyber risk as a significant threat to the organization, down 23% from the previous year.
  • Only 53% knew of any updates or changes even after the 2017 high profile attack

 

In short, these statistics paint a grim picture over the state of cybersecurity in the United States. While organizations are aware of the high risk of cyber attacks, management team involvement may be decreasing, and organizations may not be evolving their cybersecurity programs quickly enough.

 

Creating a Security First Risk Mitigation Posture
Many organizations have moved to a risk analysis security first compliance posture to enable stronger risk mitigation strategies and incorporate senior management oversight. However, identifying the potential risks to your environment only acts as the first step to understanding your overall risk. In order to identify all potential risks and engage in a full risk analysis that appropriately assesses the overall risk facing your data, you need to incorporate vendor risk as part of your risk management process.

 

That’s a lot of risk discussion, but you also have a lot of places in your overarching ecosystem that create vulnerabilities. Using a risk management process that establishes a security-first approach to your organization’s data environment and ecosystem means that you’re locking down potential weaknesses first and then backtracking to ensure you’ve aligned controls to standards and regulations. This approach, although it seems backward from a traditional compliance point-of-view, functions as a stronger risk mitigation program by continuously monitoring your data protection to stay ahead of hackers. Standards and regulations mean well, but as malicious attacks increasingly become sophisticated the best practices within these documents may be outdated in a single moment.

 

What is an Information Risk Management (IRM) Program?
An information risk management (IRM) program consists of aligning your information assets to a risk analysis, creating IRM policies that formalize the reasoning and decisions, and communicating these decisions with senior management and the Board of Directors. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the International Standards Organization (ISO) both provide guidance for establishing an IRM.

 

For example, the September 2017 NIST update to NIST 800-37 focuses on promoting information security by recognizing the need for organizational preparation as a key function in the risk mitigation process.

 

In fact, the core standards organization, ISO, updated its ISO 27005 in July 2018 to focus more on the information risk management process.

 

Specific to the United States, the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) updated it enterprise risk management framework to minimize data threats while requiring organizations to detail potential risks and manage risks more proactively.

 

As risk analysis increasingly drives information security practices, you need to focus on a risk treatment program that begins with risk identification, establishes an acceptable level of risk, defines your risk treatment protocols, and create risk mitigation processes.

 

Create an Information Risk Management (IRM) Team
In order to appropriately manage risk, you need to create an IRM Team consisting of stakeholders across the organization. Relying solely on your IT department may leave gaps in the process. To determine the stakeholders, you should explore the departments integral to risk identification. For example, you might want to ask yourself:

 

  • What departments hire vendors?
  • What departments can help with the overall risk process?
  • What stakeholders are legally required (in the United States) to be informed of the risk process?
  • Who brings unique insights into the risks that affect my data environment and ecosystem?

 

For example, while your IT department sets the controls that protect your information, your human resources department handles a lot of sensitive data. You need to incorporate stakeholders who understand the data risks unique to their role in your organization so that they can work with your Chief Information Officer and Chief Information Security Officer. Additionally, many United States regulations, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) require senior management and Board of Director oversight so they should also be included as part of your IRM team.

 

Begin with Business Processes and Objective
Many organizations forget that businesses processes and organizational business objectives should be the baseline for their risk analysis. Senior management needs to not only review the current business objectives but think about the future as part of the risk identification process. Some questions to ask might include:

 

  • What businesses processes are most important to our current business objectives?
  • Do we want to scale in the next 3-5 years?
  • What business processes do we need to meet those goals?

 

Understanding the current business objectives and future goals allows organizations to create stronger risk mitigation strategies. Many organizational goals rely on adding new vendors whose software-as-a-service products enable scalability. Therefore, you need to determine where you are as well as where you want to be so that you can protect the data that grows your organization and choose vendors who align with your acceptable level of risk.

 

Catalogue Your IT Assets
The next step in the risk analysis process requires you to look at all the places you transmit, store, or access data. This step often becomes overwhelming as you add more cloud storage locations that streamline employee workflows. Some questions to ask here might include:

 

  • What information is most critical to my business processes?
  • What servers do I store information on?
  • What networks does information travel over?
  • What devices are connected to my servers and networks?
  • What information, servers, networks, and devices are most essential to my targeted business processes?
  • What vendors do I use to management my data?

 

Review Your Potential Risks from User Access
Once you know what information you need to protect and where it resides, you need to review the users accessing it. Using multi-factor authentication and maintaining a “need to know” access protocol protects your information.

 

  • Who accesses critical information?
  • What vendors access your systems and networks?
  • Does each user have a unique ID?
    Can each user be traced to a specific device?
  • Are users granted the least authority necessary to do their jobs?
  • Do you have multi-factor authentication processes in place?
  • Do users have strong passwords?
  • Do you have access termination procedures in place?

 

These questions can help you manage risks to critical information because employees lack password hygiene or decide to use the information maliciously upon employment termination.

 

Establish An Acceptable Level of Risk
Once you’ve completed the risk identification process, You need to review what risks you want to accept, transfer, refuse, or mitigate. To determine the acceptable level of risk, you may want to ask some questions such as:

 

  • What is an acceptable level of external risk to my data environment?
  • What is an acceptable level of risk arising out of vendor access?
  • How do I communicate the acceptable level of risk to senior management?
  • How can I incorporate my acceptable level of risk in service level agreements (SLAs) with my vendors?
  • Can I quantify the acceptable level of risk I have assumed as part of my risk analysis?

 

Your information risk management (IRM) process needs to incorporate the full level of tolerances and strategies that protect your environment. In some cases, you may decide that a risk is unacceptable. For example, you may want to limit consultants from accessing your corporate networks and servers. In other instances, you may need to find ways to mitigate risks with controls such as password management or a Bring-Your-Own-Device policy.

 

Define the Controls That Manage Risk
Once you’ve set the risk tolerance, you need to define controls that manage that risk. This process is also called risk treatment. Your data ecosystem can leave you at risk for a variety of data breach scenarios, so you need to create information risk management (IRM) policies that outline your risk treatment decisions. In doing this, you need to question:

 

  • What firewall settings do I need??
  • What controls protect my networks and servers?
  • What data encryption protects information in transit across my networks and servers?
  • What encryption protects the devices that connect to my systems and networks?
  • What do I need to make sure that all vendor supplied passwords are change?
  • What protects my web applications from attacks?
  • What do I need from my vendors as part of my SLAs to ensure they maintain an acceptable level of security?

 

Defining your controls includes everything from establishing passwords to requiring anti-malware protection on devices that connect to your systems and networks. Creating a clearly defined risk treatment program enables a stronger security-first position since your IRM policies focus on protecting data proactively rather than reactively changing your security controls after a data event occurs.

 

Tracking the Risks With IRM Policies
Creating a holistic security-first approach to risk treatment and management means using IRM policies to help create a risk register. A risk register creates a tracking list that establishes a mechanism for responding to security threats. Your IRM policies, which should outline the entire risk management process, help establish the risk register by providing the list of risks monitored and a threat’s impact.

 

Although this process seems intuitive, the larger your environment and ecosystem, the more information you need to track. As you add vendors and business partners, you increase the risk register’s length making threat monitoring cumbersome.

 

How SecurityScorecard Enables the Information Risk Management Process
SecurityScorecard continuously monitors threats to your environment across ten factors: application security, DNS health, network security, patching cadence, endpoint security, IP reputation, web application security, cubit score, hacker chatter, leaked credentials, and social engineering.

 

Using these ten factors, organizations can streamline the risk management process. A primary hassle for those engaging in the risk management process lies in defining risks and establishing definitions for controls that mitigate overall risk. The ten factors remove the burden of identifying both risks to the environment and ecosystem as well as controls that mitigate risk. Moreover, you can use these same ten factors to quantify your risk monitoring and reaction, as well as the security of your vendors.

 

SecurityScorecard’s continuous monitoring tool can help alleviate bandwidth problems and help facilitate a cybersecurity program more in line with the sophisticated cyberthreat landscape.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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