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Why 2015 is the pivotal year for #digitalhealth

Why 2015 is the pivotal year for #digitalhealth | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

While we don’t truly know what the future holds, we all know that health is personal—and will need to be handled accordingly to optimize the progress that is possible with digital health.

The mainstream healthcare consumer in 2014 embraced the ALS Ice Bucket challenge and panicked (rightfully so) about the staggering wake-up call of the Ebola outbreak. While the politicians in US played the Obamacare ping pong game, and Brussels accepted its first applications for eHealth projects as part of Horizon 2020, there was also a major undercurrent in how digital health and health IT have penetrated our everyday lives.

In the US alone, digital health funding more than doubled from 2013, according to RockHealth, and even almost tripled according to StartupHealth. While the delta is not a rounding error, the key point is the exponential trajectory that showcases the fact that smart money believes this industry is ripe for significant disruption.

There are still many companies and investors that are sitting on the sidelines and watching the show from the balcony. As an example, there are many critics of wearable devices and even some hesitations on the value of big data. But, I want to remind everyone that Rome was not built in a day and the first generation or even second generation of devices, big data platforms, and decision support tools will improve care mainly driven by healthcare entrepreneurs, healthcare consumers and passionate scientists and clinicians – the “stormchasers”.

On February 2nd, I attended a local Singularity University lecture with a keynote from Gerd Leonhard, who is a thinker, futurist and a digital heretic. One of the statements he made really resonated with me: “Technology is exponential, humans are not”. The keynote was all about ethics in the age of exponential technology. But, leaving privacy and ethical issues aside, 2015 will be a pivotal year for digital health in an era of exponential technology:

1. Precision medicine

During the State of the Union Address, President Obama announced the precision medicine initiative.  

"I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine — one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable. Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes — and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier."

Precision, or personalized medicine, (I use the term interchangeably) is an approach to using medical and genetics data, body-generated data, biotechnology, and science, to first and foremost understand the root causes of the disease—but also come up with personalized and individualized treatments and therapies.

Due to forthcoming government funding, but more importantly smart money and brilliant entrepreneurs, we will certainly see more activity this year. After all “Health IS Personal”.

2. Genomics

As DNADigest describes it:

"The techniques for researching and characterizing genomics diseases are available to both researchers (next generation DNA sequencing) and the general public (in the form of personal testing), so we should soon be able to diagnose any genetic disease by sequencing a patient’s DNA."

Indeed, this is the future but the future is almost here: Illumina with $1,000 per full genome sequencing, Tute Genomics which is now allowing researchers and clinicians to interpret the entire human genome, and a big announcement for 23andMe regarding their entrance into the UK market.

As an industry, there are still a lot of hurdles, but we will see some significant moves this year in this space—including ways to actually analyze 150 zetabytes (1021) of data per full genome, begin integrating this data into evolving and ancient EMR platforms, and provide genetic counseling to offset the lack of knowledge by the masses.

3. Smart Data and Data Science

Well actually, data itself is not smart, people are! And while there is huge promise in big data analysis, collecting and hoarding zetabytes (yes this term again) of data does not bring any value.

People need to ask the right questions of the data. We are at an age where collecting data is easy with body-generated data, environmental data, and traditional medical data—but it is the data scientist combined with sharp business and clinical skills that will empower the healthcare system to make all this data actionable, with the healthcare consumer at the center.

"If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything" - Ronald Coase
4. Next Generation EMR is personal

Let’s face it—and this is not news to anybody—core medical data is already becoming a small percentage of the overall personal health record. Existing EMR platforms are over two decades old and some are struggling to keep up with archaic architectures, millions of lines of code, and minimal-to-no differentiation to their client base today.

The smart ones are looking to open up their APIs, integrate body-generated and genomics data, and even combine that with environmental data at a personalized level to be able to provide that precision medicine at point of care.

5. Design and Aesthetics

Our bodies are complex, and therefore the medical profession is complex. Once again, an unprecedented amount of content is generated daily—and for both consumers and clinicians alike, dealing with this information overload is becoming yet another full time job.

The aforementioned smart data discussion is only one piece of the puzzle. User experience is another.

At the core of our health is human behavior. Hence, incentivizing healthcare consumers (patients), making their treatment pathways clear, and presenting stupid data in a smart and actionable way are all key to improving our healthcare system.

Global health care transformation is still in its infancy. While we don’t truly know what the future holds, we all know that health is personal—and will need to be handled accordingly to optimize the progress that is possible with digital health.


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Healthcare Technology Trends for 2019 and Beyond

Healthcare Technology Trends for 2019 and Beyond | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The healthcare industry is moving from products and services to solutions. Just a few years ago, medical institutions relied on special equipment and hardware to deliver evidence-based care. Today is the time of medical platforms, big data, and healthcare analytics. Healthcare institutions are focused on real-time results. The next decade will be focused on preventive care, and here new healthcare technology trends will come into play.

Artificial intelligence

The modern healthcare industry has already introduсed AI-based technologies like robotics and machine learning to the world. For example, IBM Watson is an AI-based system that’s making a difference in several areas of healthcare. The IBM Watson Care Manager was produced to enhance care management, accelerate drug discovery, match patients with clinical trials, and fulfill other tasks. Systems like this can help medical institutions save a big deal of time and money in the future.

 

It’s likely that in 2019 and beyond, AI will become even more advanced and will be able to carry out a wider range of tasks without human monitoring. Here are some predictions of AI trends in healthcare:

Early diagnosis

This healthcare technology trend can accurately and quickly process a lot more data than the human brain. So AI tools can reduce human errors in diagnosis and treatment and allow doctors to work with more patients. For example, image recognition technology will help to diagnose some diseases that cause changes to appearance (diabetes, optical deviations, and dermatological diseases). It’s also likely that in future people will be able to diagnose themselves. DIY medical diagnosis apps will probably ask some questions, process a patient’s care history, and then show possible diagnoses based on the current symptoms. But as this technology isn’t advanced yet, patients should be careful with DIY medical apps and self-medication.

Medical research and drug discovery

The future of drug discovery and medical research lies in deep learning technology. Deep learning is a field of machine learning that’s able to model the way neurons interact with each other in the brain. This allows medical systems to process large sets of data to quickly identify drug candidates with a high probability of success. A Pharma IQ report says that about 94 percent of pharma specialists believe that AI technologies will have a noticeable impact on drug discovery over the next two years. Even today, pharmaceutical giants such as Merck, Celgene, and GSK are working on drug discovery in collaboration with AI platforms, predicting AI to be the primary drug discovery tool in the future.

Better workflow management and accounting

There are a lot of routine and tiresome tasks that medical workers have to do apart from caring for patients. AI can reduce staff overload by automating monotonous tasks such as accounting, scheduling, managing electronic health records, and paperwork.

IoMT

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) includes various devices connected to each other via the internet. Nowadays, this technology trend in healthcare is used for remote monitoring of patients’ well-being by means of wearables. For example, ECG monitors, mobile apps, fitness trackers, and smart sensors can measure blood pressure, pulse, heart rate, glucose level, and more and set reminders for patients. One recently introduced IoMT wearable device, the Apple Watch Series 4, is able to measure heart rate, count calories burned, and even detect a fall and call emergency numbers. The FDA has recently approved a pill with sensors called Abilify MyCite that can digitally track if a patient has taken it.

IoMT technology is still evolving and is forecasted to reach about 30 billion devices worldwide by 2021 according to Frost & Sullivan.

  • IoMT will contribute sensors and systems in the healthcare industry to capture data and deliver it accurately.
  • IoMT technology can reduce the costs of healthcare solutions by allowing doctors to examine patients remotely.
  • IoMT can help doctors gather analytics to predict health trends.

 

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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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Optimize Your Sales Team's Productivity with 10 Cisco IP Phones

Optimize Your Sales Team's Productivity with 10 Cisco IP Phones | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Ten Cisco IP Phone Options for Your Sales Team

1) The Cisco 8865. Sales organizations seeking the latest in cutting-edge HD video communications will find the 8865 to their liking. Designed to function flawlessly in shared work environments, the 8865 offers a comprehensive collection of VoIP features. Key characteristics of 8865 include the following:

  • A 5-inch widescreen VGA color display
  • High-quality 720p two-way HD video for a superb visual experience
  • Superb video and VoIP clarity
  • An optional key expansion module that facilitates dialing
  • Flexible deployment options

Additionally, the 8865 is compatible with a variety of USB headsets, including models made by third-party vendors. This advantage enables companies with offshore call centers to easily and affordably replace headsets through local suppliers.

 

2) The Cisco 8845. The 8845 was designed for optimum user productivity. In addition to offering basic calling features such as transfer, conference, and hold/resume, the 8845 allows sales reps to employ its multi-call-per-line feature to handle multiple calls for each directory number. The most pertinent features for sales and customer service agents are as follows:

  • A 5-inch high-resolution widescreen backlit color display
  • High-quality 720p two-way HD video
  • Five programmable lines
  • Outstanding audio acoustics
  • One-touch access to applications

In addition to these key features, the 8845 is known for its integrated digital camera and outstanding encryption of voice and video communications.

 

3) The Cisco 7945G. Like 8845, the Cisco 7945G possesses an adaptable, dynamic design that facilitates organizational growth. Regular, unobtrusive software updates help to ensure that sales and customer service representatives maintain a competitive edge in efficiency and productivity. Key characteristics of the 7945G include the following:

  • A 5-inch graphical TFT color display with backlight and 16-bit color depth
  • High-quality 720p two-way HD video for a superb visual experience
  • Five programmable lines
  • Wideband support, including speakerphone, handset, and headset
  • One-touch access to applications

The 7945G is also known for its integrated support for over 30 languages, making it an excellent choice for organizations with employees in multiple countries.

 

4) The Cisco SPA303G. The SPA303G IP phone was constructed with utility and affordability in mind. It is the perfect option for organizations that do not require a large color display or other sophisticated features present on recently designed IP phones. Key characteristics of the SPA303G include the following:

  • A backlit monochrome LCD screen (128 x 64 pixels)
  • Three voice lines
  • Caller ID
  • A menu-operated user interface
  • Automatic redial of the most recent number called

Two final points to consider are the SPA303G’s simple installation process and secure remote provisioning tools. Software upgrades are easy to make and do not interfere with regular business, giving sales and customer service managers peace of mind.

 

5) The Cisco SPA504G. The SPA504G IP phone possesses the same robust collection of features as the 303G. However, the SPA504G also includes an additional voice line, Power over Ethernet (PoE) support, and other upgrades that make it a more attractive option for sales professionals who field a lot of calls. Key characteristics of the SPA504G include the following:

  • A backlit monochrome LCD screen (128 x 64 pixels)
  • Four voice lines
  • Illuminated buttons to signify on/off for audio mute, headset, and speakerphone
  • A menu-operated user interface
  • Support of optional features such as Cisco XML and VoiceView Express

 

6) The Cisco SPA514G. With its dual gigabit ethernet switched ports and secure remote provisioning, the SPA514G is a logical choice for call centers with single or multiple locations. Key specifications include:

  • A backlit monochrome LCD screen (128 x 64 pixels)
  • Four voice lines
  • Supports Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • A menu-operated user interface
  • Automatic redial of the most recent number called

Like other models in Cisco’s SPA line, the SPA514G is known for its ease of installation and simple station moves, making it a favorite among sales managers and IT staff alike.

 

7) The Cisco 7940G. Designed with the needs of transaction-type employees in mind, the Cisco 7940G is a model for call center managers to consider. Additional benefits for call center agents include categorization of incoming messages for users and customizable network configuration preferences. The 7940G boasts a robust collection of capabilities, including the following:

  • The ability for hands-free changes, facilitating moves to any new network location without system administration
  • The availability of a variety of user accessibility methods, including soft keys, buttons, or direct access
  • More than 24 unique ringer sounds and volume settings
  • A dedicated headset port that allows the handset to remain in its cradle
  • Easy access to a variety of information, including stock market updates, weather, and other web-based news

In addition to these advantages, the 7940G features an ADA-compliant dial pad and HAC handset, facilitating compliance with industry regulations. The 7940G also has a foot stand that can be adjusted up to 60 degrees for optimum viewing and comfort.

 

8) Cisco 7912G. The 7912G offers outstanding value to companies facing tight budgetary constraints. A snapshot of the basic features of the 7912G is as follows:

  • Single voice line support
  • A monochrome, pixel-based display that displays the caller’s name and number
  • Call forwarding and call waiting
  • On-hook dialing
  • Four speed-dials

Because the 7912G is an older model phone, it is no longer available for purchase directly through Cisco, but may be purchased through online resellers.

 

9) The Cisco CP-8831-K9. The CP-8831-K9 is distinct from the other Cisco phones on this list because it is designed specifically for conference calls. The CP-8831-K9 provides an acoustically pleasing experience for a large group of sales representatives and call center agents. Boasting the following five strengths, the CP-8831-K9 is particularly beneficial to companies that regularly hold audio conference calls with customer groups or vendors:

  • High-definition audio performance
  • 360-degree coverage
  • Scalability to optimize conference calls in rooms and offices of every size
  • Flexibility and convenience through a mobile control panel
  • Expandability through the use of wired or wireless extension microphones

The CP-8831-K9 also includes a number of subtly impressive features such as echo suppression, noise reduction, and silence suppression. The inclusion of these premium features makes the CP-8831-K9 an excellent choice for sales organizations that require a dependable conference phone.

 

10) The Cisco 8800 Key Module. While this module is not a telephone in and of itself, it deserves inclusion in this list because of its progressive ability to transform Cisco’s 8851, 8861, and 8865 telephones. In addition to greatly enhancing productivity for phone users, the 8800 key module offers busy sales representatives one-button access to the colleagues with whom they communicate with the greatest frequency. Notable features of the 8800 key module include the following:

  • 18 programmable LED lines per module
  • A backlit, high-resolution 4.3-inch color display for easy viewing
  • Users can choose between Power over Ethernet (PoE) or a local power cube
  • A power save plus option to help companies save money and conserve energy.
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Telehealth Nurse Researcher Collaborates with Mayor in Chile

Telehealth Nurse Researcher Collaborates with Mayor in Chile | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Phase One: Using Simulation Labs to Teach Future Telehealth Providers

 

For 15 years, I was a home hospice nurse who went out on emergency nighttime visits to patients who were experiencing symptoms that terrified their family. The travel distance added to the anxiety and suffering of family and patients. I always thought that just because a family chooses to live in a rural area, they should not have to accept suffering as “the price they have to pay.”

 

Since then, I have focused on enabling the provision of healthcare services to patients who choose to live in the beauty of a rural environment.  Using telehealth technology to rapidly view, assess and improve a patient’s situation has been foremost in my program of research.

 I know I do not have to describe the explosion of telehealth during the last 15 years to readers of this blog. In my telehealth experience, I have gone from home hospice organizations, thinking that I was suggesting a cold and unfeeling method of providing end-of-life care, to a Global University interest in me sharing my telehealth expertise as an international Fulbright Specialist.  

 

In December 2018, I was invited to spend 10 days at the Universidad Mayor (UM) in Chile, South America. The purpose of my visit was to investigate the use of simulation to teach telehealth at the university’s science campuses. The UM is a private university with 11 campuses in Santiago and one in Temuco.  Despite the fact that UM was founded in 1988, only 30 years ago, there are currently 20,000 students enrolled in seven academic programs.  It was clear to me that the reason behind the rapid, yet well-planned, expansion is the attention given to providing students with an education for the future, especially in the areas of healthcare.  The Universidad is intentional and does not let time waste! 

Thanks to a combined effort between UM administrators and Arizona Telemedicine Program initiatives, by January 6, 2019, I was in Santiago.  Chile is a very long country, stretching 2,670 miles but only 217 miles at its widest point. The entire country covers almost 300,000 square miles.  Forty-one percent of the population lives in three large cities, resulting in 10 million people living in rural areas.

I visited two campuses – Alameda and Huechuraba – in Santiago, Chile’s capital, during my first five days in the country.  Both campuses have state-of-the-art simulation mannequins for training. At the Alameda Campus, I observed healthcare simulation training for dental surgery and odontology, the scientific study of the structure and diseases of teeth.  At the Huechuraba campus, I observed medical, nursing and obstetric students all learning together, using the simulation mannequin to give birth as the focus for their collaboration.  

My research program examines human factors that improve the use of telehealth. Effective communication is a critical variable. The technology can be of the best quality possible, but if the communication between the sender and the receiver is not effective, the outcome will not be optimal.  With each new technology addition to our healthcare system, we should expect improvement, not merely substitution for existing processes.

 

Using the “seven Cs” of effective communication: being courteous, clear, correct, complete, concrete, concise, and considerate, contribute to teaching skills when in person.  However, when instructing remotely, due to limitations of other senses -- smell, 360-degree visualization, and touch – verbal attention to “the seven C’s” of effective communication becomes critical.  Simulation is a great way to allow healthcare providers to learn skills without risk to the patient. This exciting collaboration with the forward-thinking Universidad Mayor will utilize existing simulation technology to teach healthcare providers of the future how to communicate effectively.

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Take Full Control of Your Business Phone System

Take Full Control of Your Business Phone System | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

In order to reach a  93% chance of converting a lead, it takes an agent about 6 attempts; meanwhile, 10 to 15 are the number of 2-minute calls one has to make within the span of an hour; and, on an average, a sales agent needs to keep in touch with a clientele consisting of 2 large accounts, 6 medium accounts, and 50 small accounts to reach his or her monthly quota. Are your current modes of communication able to help you meet these numbers on the daily? If you answered “no,” then it’s about time that you get a grip, and take control of your business phone systems.

 

Imagine starting your career in sales sometime before the ’80s, when modern technological advancements didn’t exist; a time when going through the previously mentioned statistics meant doing it with an early version of a landline device.  Luckily, today’s set of experts has given grave importance to the development of both software and hardware in easing the flow of communications. A more resilient, advanced, dependable, and cost-effective version of previous corporate communication tools, is this new breed of phone systems. But despite its seemingly pristine facade, these modern upgrades are still prone to issues. It is important for organizations to be aware of these possible circumstances, in order to effectively manage their phone systems, and have it fully optimized for the efficiency of operations.

Always One Step Ahead

Defying the forthcoming is probably not the wisest way to go about any internal issue. When dealing with something as vital as phone systems, it always pays to address the issue head on. Whether it is for internal communications or other communication functions, these pieces of technology are constantly being used. With this frequency of its usage, it does not matter how careful you are while using it. The daily wear and tear these phone systems go through make them very much prone to certain system problems. Giving yourself enough lead-time to adjust to eventual system troubleshooting requires that you know what is there to prepare for.

 

An upgrade in their system’s hardware is the primary problem faced by most companies. Yes, just like your smart phones, your business phones get obsolete too. Every year brings to the table a different challenge for developers to battle. And as time passes, the once top-of-the-line equipment that furnished your agents’ desks will see the end of its glory days. Newer systems are introduced to the market each year; and all of them cater to a company’s need to cater to the growing list of demands from clients.

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Telemedicine’s Pivotal Role in Improving Mental Health

Telemedicine’s Pivotal Role in Improving Mental Health | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Living with a mental illness can be isolating and difficult. The long-standing stigma connected with mental illness, along with limited treatment accessibility, patients’ fear of the potential repercussions of family, friends, and employers finding out about their condition, have kept many individuals from seeking the support they need. Fortunately, these trends are starting to shift in a more positive direction.

 

Although some stigma and shame still surround such illnesses as depression, anxiety, OCD, and bipolar disorder, people are beginning to feel more comfortable about sharing their own strugglesand finding support from others online. Telehealth and an interconnected world are coming together to end stigma, and help people manage their mental health in a more effective way.

 

Perspectives About Behavioral Health Problems Are Improving

Technology has helped us to connect with one another in many positive ways, but this interconnectivity has been a double-edged sword for mental health. Social media and smartphones have led to a 24/7 lifestyle that can exacerbate or even create mental health issues. With that said, technology has also opened up a dialogue that is beginning to change the conversation and do away with the stigma surrounding mental illness.

 

Thanks to those who have shared their experiences online, more people are beginning to realize that mental illness is quite common. Ultimately, this change should mean that more people feel comfortable seeking treatment so they can live a healthy, more productive life.

Services Are Becoming More Accessible

Limited access to treatment has always been an obstacle for people seeking mental health services. Finding a therapist locally can be a challenge, because many mental health professionals may not accept some forms of insurance, or do not treat a patient’s needs. A 2017 Milliman report illustrated the shortage of mental health professionals nationwide, with only 8.9 psychiatrists for every 100,000 people, which leads to many people seeking treatment while waiting months to get help.

 

The American Psychiatric Association fully supports telepsychiatry, now that telehealth has shown it can improve accessibility and enable patients to get the help they need without the struggle. Patients and professionals have found that therapy sessions via video chat and other remote services are as good as “face to face” sessions. Telehealth support is also key for patients with  mental health needs; they can consult with a specialist without having to travel.

 

Telehealth is increasingly being utilized in emergency situations. Patients who are experiencing a mental health emergency can reach out to professionals 24/7 and receive remote monitoring when necessary. This helps to allow patients to maintain their independence while ensuring they have the support they need.

 

More Specialists Are Needed to Pave the Way Toward Change

Now that more people are opening up about their mental health challenges, many others are becoming inspired to take charge of their own mental health. That’s creating an unprecedented demand for behavioral health services in both traditional models and telemedicine. While this signals a positive cultural shift, the healthcare system is not prepared for this growing influx of new patients.

 

There are many mental health resources available to help people cope with common mental illnesses, but what is needed long-term is more mental health specialists. To ensure that every American has access to high-quality behavioral healthcare, we need more people to enter this growing field. According to some estimates, 70,000 mental health specialists in several disciplines will be necessary to meet demand by 2025.

 

The good news? Healthcare organizations are increasingly adapting to new trends to meet patients’ needs. Thanks to new same-day programs and mental health professionals at primary care facilities, patients can now get help in as little as 30 minutes.

 

Should You Pursue a Career in Behavioral Health?

A career in mental health is a great option for people who are committed to helping others.  While becoming a behavioral health professional takes time and extensive education, it can be a satisfying career, and specializing in telemedicine is a great way to help solve the shortage of qualified professionals.

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Do Start Ups Need a CRM and Phone System for Sales?

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Advantages of CRM for Small Business

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Why Should You Get CRM For Small Business Today

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Information Security Risk Management

Information Security Risk Management | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Information security risk management is a wide topic, with many notions, processes, and technologies that are often confused with each other.

 

Very often technical solutions (cybersecurity products) are presented as “risk management” solutions without process-related context.

 

Modern cybersecurity risk management is not possible without technical solutions, but these solutions alone, when not put in the context of correct risk management processes (and in the context of information-related processes) of an organization might not be enough to properly manage risks of information processing or might even cause a false sense of security.

 

In this new series of articles, I will explain some basic notions related to risk management, introduce and describe the phases of cyclic high-level process risk management, give more details on each of the phases and introduce the NIST and ISO standards related to risk management.

 

In this article, I will review the definition of risk, goals of risk management and list the main NIST and ISO standards related to information security risk management.

Cybersecurity risk management vs information security risk management

First of all, let’s discuss shortly the difference between “cybersecurity risk management” and “information security risk management”. Before “cybersecurity” became a buzzword, professionals dealing with information security used only “information security” and “IT security” notions.

 

Obviously “information security” is a wider term. It concerns the security of information, stored, processed or transmitted in any form (including paper). Information security also concerns people, processes, legal/regulatory matters and insurance. (Yes, insurance is also a way to reduce risk – by transferring it – and is thus a security measure.)

 

“IT security” is a term concerning “IT”, that is Information Technology. So it concerns information processed in IT systems. Sometimes these notions (“information security” and “IT security”) were used (and still are used!) interchangeably, but formally this is wrong because IT system is a part of information processing system.

 

“Cybersecurity” is a nice buzzword of recent years. Almost everything is “cyber” these days. Unfortunately this word has different meanings, depending on who uses it. The “cyber” part of this word suggests it concerns technology, so in my private opinion this word, “cybersecurity” is a younger brother of “IT security” (or, to be more precise, a younger clone  ). What is wrong with this word in my opinion is that it is often used to describe (or in) high-level documents like policies or process descriptions that have nothing to do with lower-level technology. But this is the trend we cannot change – the “cybersecurity everything” approach has been present in information/IT security world for some time already and it is doing very well. So we have to adapt and adjust.

 

But at the same time we have to be very careful when using the word “cybersecurity” (do we really mean what we are saying?) and also when reading it (what does this word really mean in the context of other information it is “served” with?).

The goal of information security risk management

The main goal of information security risk management is to continuously address the risks to information processed by an organization. These risks are to be addressed according to the organization’s risk management policy.

 

The information security risk management is a part of general risk management of an organization, so it should be aligned with general, high-level risk management policy.

 

The realization of the above-mentioned goal of information security is dependent on the following elements:

  • the information security risk management methodology;
  • the information security risk management policy and procedures;
  • the information security risk management process;
  • the information security risk management stakeholders.

I will be addressing all these in next articles in this series.

NIST and ISO standards

There are important (and practically applicable) NIST guidelines and ISO standards available on information security risk management.

The main high-level ISO standard on risk management is ISO 31000 (namely ISO 31000:2009: “Risk management — Principles and guidelines”; it is currently under review).

(It belongs to the same line of ISO standards as ISO 27000 line of standards, which I touched in my previous series of articles in Komunity.)

 

ISO 3100 introduces the risk management cycle that is applicable to (and should be used for) information security management, independent of risk analysis methodology used. I will use this cycle to introduce information security risk management process.

But before that, let me mention also other standards and guidelines on information security risk management:

  • ISO/IEC 27005: “Information technology — Security techniques — Information security risk management”;
  • NIST Special Publication 800-39: “Managing Information Security Risk: Organization, Missions and Information System View”;
  • NIST Special Publication 800-30 Rev 1: “Guide for Conducting Risk Assessments”.

I will come back to these standards after I describe the risk management cycle and its elements.

Risk definition

Let’s touch on another subject that is important and sometimes misunderstood – the notion of risk itself.

 

In common language, we often mix up all notions related to risk management: the risk itself, vulnerability, threat etc. We can’t do that if we want to run the risk management properly. It is not only the matter of notion mix-up. These notions are used in any risk analysis methodology and shouldn’t be mixed up, otherwise one will not be able to perform risk analysis correctly or understand and implement its results into the risk management process cycle.

 

ISO 31000 defines risk as “effect of uncertainty on objectives” (please remember that this standard is a high-level standard). This effect can be positive or negative, which means that in terms of this standard (and other risk-related standards, as you will see) risk is neutral. This, as can easily be seen, is not consistent with the common language, in which risk is almost always a negative notion.

 

I’ll come back to this definition and to the definitions o terms that are related to risk notion: vulnerability, threat etc.

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How Telemedicine Can Help Stroke Victims Faster 

How Telemedicine Can Help Stroke Victims Faster  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

In developed countries like the United States, stroke is still the third leading cause of death. In fact, each year stroke occurs in more than 700,000 patients, leaving many with disabilities and unable to resume a normal life.

 

When a stroke occurs, every second counts. The sooner a stroke victim is treated with medication that breaks up blood clots and restores blood flow to the brain, the less chance the patient will suffer permanent damage such as the loss of muscle control, mobility, or the ability to speak.

 

According to the American Stroke Association, ‘time lost is brain lost.’ That’s because every minute that passes before a stroke patient is treated, means the death of millions of brain cells.

 

Unfortunately, less than 30% of stroke victims receive clot-dissolving medication inside a recommended window of an hour or less for maximum effectiveness, according to information from Healthcare delivery network Kaiser Permanente.

 

But the same study reveals how telemedicine – or a telestroke system to be precise – can be a vital tool in getting stroke victims faster treatment – and thereby limiting the debilitating effects of the attack.

 

A Race Against Time

Basically, a telestroke system requires a neurologist and attending nurse to have a high-speed Internet connection and videoconferencing capabilities on a laptop, tablet or desktop computer.  The purpose is for the consulting neurologist to be able to talk to the patient or an emergency response team about what symptoms the patient is experiencing, evaluating the patient’s motor skills, viewing a computed tomography (CT) scan, making a diagnosis and prescribing treatment.

 

Data gathered from 300 stroke patients being treated in 21 Kaiser emergency rooms in Northern California shows that those who were diagnosed as having a stroke via a telehealth consultation received clot-busting medication intravenously much faster than the 60-minute guidelines from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

 

The Kaiser emergency rooms were equipped with telestroke carts, which included a video camera and access to patients’ electronic scans and test results. When emergency room staff contacted a staff neurologist and a radiologist via a telestroke cart, patients received anti-blood clot medicine in an average of 34 minutes. Eighty-seven percent of stroke patients received the intravenous medication in 60 minutes or less, 73% in 45 minutes or sooner and 41% in 30 minutes or less.

 

A Clear Priority

According to the American Stroke Association, American Heart Association, and the American Telemedicine Association, telestroke services could save thousands of lives each year and cut costs by $1.2 billion over the next decade.

 

The reason is because processes that used to happen sequentially during a stroke alert are now happening at the same time. That allows medical staff to provide evaluation and treatment to stroke patients more quickly, safely, and confidently, to avoid further brain damage.

 

The addition of specialized stroke services helps hospitals improve patient outcomes, decrease patient disability related to stroke, and reduce costs, while keeping patients in the community. Providing expert stroke consults remotely via telemedicine allows prompt care close to home for these patients, making a priority for health care providers nationwide.

 

If you are interested in bridging the gap of care for patients in need, whether they be in remote areas or unable to leave home, telemedicine can help provide quality care to more people in need. Contact TeleMed2U today, at (855) 446-TM2U (8628).

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Popular Small Business Phone Systems

Popular Small Business Phone Systems | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Before you sign with a phone service provider, you’ll want to have a strong foundation of understanding about phone systems for small businesses. Go beyond simply knowing what features you want the small business phone system to have. Know the various types of systems out there. From phone systems that rely on traditional phone lines to make calls, to those that use broadband or fiber internet connections.

 

As far as features go, if you’re putting budget into a serious business phone system, you should be expecting to receive multiple lines, voicemail, conference calling capabilities and an auto attendant at the very least in return.

 

Among the choices you’ll be facing for your small business phone system is whether to get a multi-line system, a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system, or a cloud-based phone system. Let’s take a look at the most popular small business phone systems options and how to determine what will work best for your small business:

Multi-line Phone Systems

These more old-school phone systems are also known as key service units (KSU). These systems use an electro-mechanical switching device that controls the routing and operation of a traditional analog telephone system. These systems are time-tested ways for you to keep the phones ringing for anywhere between five and 40 employees.

 

When considering how many lines your business needs wired into the office, it’s important to find a balance between not having more lines than you really need while also giving your business room to grow. If you have a business with less than 10 people, it’s also possible to take advantage of a KSU-less system in which the phone contains all the technology. This means the system doesn’t have to be permanently wired into the office space.

 

Private Branch Exchange Systems

Private Branch Exchange Systems (PBX) are essentially private phone networks for your office that give you more advanced features and options. At Fastmetrics, the system is actually cloud-based. PBX features can include call holding, routing to extensions, and conference calling.

 

These phone systems are different from KSU systems in that the call routing does not occur through the phone unit or building’s wiring but is centralized. These systems, designed for companies needing to cater to more than 40 employees, used to be run on monstrous devices that took up an entire closet. Now, they can comfortably fit on a shelf.

Voice Over Internet Protocol Phone Systems

If you go with a VoIP phone system, it will run on your broadband internet connection rather than through your phone lines. When this technology first came out, it was very rough and reliability was an issue, especially as your phone system’s effectiveness was tied to your high-speed internet connection.

Nowadays, a VoIP system offers a vast number of advantages: from the ease of installation and scalability to pricing and advanced features. Among these features is a VoIP system’s ability to integrate with your customer relationship management software (CRM), which can then automatically log interactions.

 

VoIP systems also boast the ability to host a virtual receptionist or auto attendant to handle calls, as well as all the other bells and whistles that come with a full phone system, such as conference calls, call waiting, and voicemail. These same VoIP features are also offered by Fastmetrics’ cloud PBX solution. VoIP adoption by businesses is growing rapidly. Between 2011 and 2015, there was a projected 50 percent growth due to increased demand by small offices and home offices.

Cloud Phone Systems

The key to a cloud-based phone system is that it removes the telephone infrastructure from your office. This system will be run by a third-party company and can be hosted through either a PBX or by a VoIP system. This setup is perfect for your business if you’re on a tight or fixed budget and don’t have the IT staff necessary to operate and maintain PBX hardware or troubleshoot your VoIP system.

 

FREE with a new cloud-based phone system plan, Fastmetrics customers receive their choice of new Yealink or Polycom phones with business voice services. Get in touch with Fastmetrics touch to learn more.

 

Of course, by having a third-party company managing the system, you are dependent on its reliability as a company and you do lose a certain amount of control. At Fastmetrics, users have a much higher level of control over the standard cloud phone system, in terms of setup and customization. Nonetheless, a cloud phone system is often the most cost-effective solution for a small business and the easiest to deal with regarding scalability.

7 Small Business Phone System Feature Considerations

A lot of features that come with small business phone systems are designed to make your life as a business owner easier and help your employees to be more effective and efficient.

 

Here are a few small business phone systems essentials:

 

  • Voicemail transcriptions: This feature, which sometimes is called voicemail-to-email or voicemail-to-text, transcribes a message left in the phone system, making it easier to respond to.
  • Voicemail: Though voicemail isn’t used much in social calls anymore, people still expect to be able to leave a message inquiring about a product with a company. Though more cumbersome than other forms of communication, voicemail remains an essential feature for small business phone systems.
  • Call forwarding: This allows your employees to transfer a customer to the right department or person.
  • Call queuing: If your company faces heavy phone traffic and you have limited employees available to answer the phone, this is an essential feature to ensure that you don’t miss clients’ calls.
  • Call recording: This is a particularly important feature for businesses that review customer service employee interactions on a regular basis, as it gives you an opportunity to see how your employees are interfacing with clients.
  • Interactive voice response: This allows you to create a series of menus for your business that a caller can navigate to help them reach the representative best prepared to help them.
  • Conference calling: With more people working on the road or from their home, bringing everyone together in one place can sometimes feel impossible. However, with conference calling, you’re able to pull in everyone around the table (so to speak) and hash out ideas.

 

These are just a few of the most essential features you’ll want to consider having for your small business’s phone system. Other options include ring groups, directory assistance, internet faxing, call reports, call monitoring, and missed call notifications. Most phone service providers charge extra for extended phone system features but at Fastmetrics, many of these features are included for no additional cost.

Final Thoughts: Choosing Between the Most Popular Small Business Phone Systems

By having a firm grasp on all the options for small business phone systems from those hardwired into your building, to those cloud systems hosted by a third party, you’ll be able to confidently approach a phone service provider and not be overwhelmed by the options, features, and details of what they’re trying to sell you. This is important because you’ll want to settle on a phone system for your small business where you aren’t paying for a lot of lines and features you don’t need, but are still giving your company room to grow.

 

Have more questions about phone systems for small businesses? Get in touch with the Fastmetrics team.

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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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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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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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Healthcare Providers & Vendors Need HIPAA Cloud Solution!

Healthcare Providers & Vendors Need HIPAA Cloud Solution! | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Cloud solutions are quickly becoming the new norm for the way businesses operate today. Many companies are moving from legacy software systems to online “hosted” alternatives, such as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) or IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service). The benefits of cloud-based solutions over desktop software are wide-ranging, affecting everything from productivity to data security. Healthcare organizations also need to take the appropriate precautions to ensure that they have a HIPAA compliance cloud.

 

It makes sense to see why so many organizations are adopting cloud-based solutions–improved efficiency, flexibility, cost reduction, mobility, as well as around the clock support are all driving forces behind the growth of cloud services.

 

Yet, HIPAA compliance cloud services also raise some concerns in regards to security and compliance, which go hand-in-hand to help organizations keep their sensitive healthcare data safe. For businesses operating in the healthcare industry, which accounts for approximately one-fifth of the US economy, these concerns escalate due to HIPAA regulatory requirements that mandate the privacy and security of patients’ protected health information (PHI). PHI is any demographic information that can be used to identify a patient. Common examples of PHI include names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, phone numbers, medical records, and full facial photos, to name a few.

 

HIPAA applies to covered entities, such as providers and insurance plans, as well as business associates who perform certain functions for, or on behalf of another health care organization that involves receiving, maintaining, or transmitting PHI.

 

For example, a cloud service provider (CSP) who are involved in handling PHI for a covered entity whether it is data storage or a complete software solution such as a hosted electronic medical record system, are still considered a business associate and need to implement a HIPAA compliance cloud.

HIPAA Compliance in the Cloud

In a nutshell, both covered entities and business associates need a HIPAA compliance cloud that allows for the creation of an effective compliance programThe Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released detailed, five-step guidance on cloud computing that parties must adhere to in order to maintain HIPAA compliant relationships. This HHS guidance on HIPAA compliance cloud services includes:

 

  1. Execute a Business Associate Agreement– A business associate agreement outlines what business associates can and cannot do with the PHI they access, how they will protect that PHI, how they will prevent PHI disclosure, and the appropriate method for reporting a breach of PHI  if one would occur. It also defines liability in the event of a data breach.
  2. Conduct a HIPAA Security Risk Assessment– The covered entity or business associate that works with a cloud service provider must document the cloud computing environment and security solutions put in place by the cloud service provider as part of their risk management policies.
  3. Abide by the HIPAA Privacy Rule– A covered entity must enforce proper safeguards in order to keep PHI safe and information can only be disclosed to a business associate after a business associate agreement has been executed.
  4. Implement HIPAA Security Safeguards– A business associate must comply with all three key security safeguards outlined in the HIPAA Security Rule: Physical, Technical and Administrative.
  5. Adhere to the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule- In the event of a data breach, covered entities and business associates are required to document and investigate the incident. All breaches must be reported to HHS OCR. All affected parties must be notified as well.

 

The only exception to the Breach Notification Rule is if the data was properly encrypted. If, for example, a properly encrypted device containing PHI goes missing, then there is a low probability that the data will be accessible by an unauthorized user. In this case, a breach will not have to be reported under the provisions of the Breach Notification Rule.

 

However, it is crucial that all HIPAA covered entities and business associates read the standards outlined in the regulation to determine the proper level of HIPAA encryption for different modes of data storage and transmission.

 

If a covered entity does not execute a Business Associate Agreement with a third party vendor with whom they share PHI, both organizations are leaving themselves exposed to a significant risk of HIPAA violations.

A HIPAA Compliant Cloud Will Save You Money

Data breaches are very costly–not only due to monetary penalties but also because of the long-lasting reputational damage a breach can have on an organization.

 

HIPAA breach fines can range anywhere from $100 to $50,000 per violation or record, with up to a maximum of $1.5 million per violation. When multiple violations or a large scale data breach occurs, these fines can compound and lead to millions of dollars in HIPAA fines. As if that isn’t bad enough, breaches are publicly listed on the “Wall of Shame,” maintained and enforced by HHS OCR. This list shows all HIPAA breaches affecting 500 or more individuals. Even worse, some HIPAA violations can lead to criminal charges, carrying the potential for jail time.

 

In order to avoid violations and fines, healthcare providers and business associates must comply with HIPAA regulations which means protecting the security and privacy of their patients.

Compliance Group Can Help!

Compliance Group helps healthcare professionals and business associates effectively address their HIPAA compliance with our cloud-based app, The Guard. The Guard allows users to achieve, illustrate, and maintain compliance, addressing everything that the law requires.

 

Users are paired with one of our expert Compliance Coaches. They will guide you through every step of the process and answer any questions you may have along the way. Compliance Group simplifies compliance so you can get back to confidently running your business.

 

And in the event of a data breach or HIPAA audit, our Audit Response Team works with users through the entire documentation and reporting process. At Compliance Group, we go above and beyond to help demonstrate your good faith effort toward HIPAA compliance.

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Women and Nonbinary People in Information Security

Women and Nonbinary People in Information Security | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

I’ve got great news for you! My interview series continues.

Last week, I spoke with Nicola Whiting, cyber hygiene specialist, and Titania Chief Strategy Officer.

 

This time, I had the privilege of speaking with defensive security expert Liz Bell. We talked about the 90s internet, blue teaming, sexism and transphobia in tech as well as what pen testing can teach you about defensive security.

 

Kim Crawley: Please tell me a bit about yourself and what you do.

Liz Bell: I work for a cybersecurity defense company that provides network monitoring and response tools for customers in the finance, government, and energy sectors. I work on the internal monitoring team, which means I help keep our own networks safe. Before that, I worked in penetration testing punctuated with some time in academia doing research on applying machine learning techniques to attacking ciphers, and before that, I was a software engineer. I’ve been interested in security since I was little, though. Being lucky enough to have grown up with the web, I just caught the tail end of the BBS era, and so I got to see security start to become something people actually took seriously. Being curious, my general instinct was to find ways to circumvent limitations. Now I get to spot people trying to do those same things.

 

KC: It sounds like you’ve been online since the 90s. I’ve been online since 1994. Is there anything about the 90s internet that you miss these days?

LB: There are a few things that I’m kind of nostalgic about like MSN chat rooms, hearing my phone sing the internet song to the gateway, downloading Win32 viruses from Napster and Limewire, earning badges and posting angsty poetry on Bolt.com, but I think the main thing I miss is the openness and generosity of the web back then. These days, it feels like, if you’re fortunate, you have a series of walled gardens, and if you’re not, you’re facing a never-ending stream of racist/homophobic/transphobic content and intrusive adtech.

 

KC: You mentioned P2P malware, which is still a problem these days. How do you think online cybersecurity challenges are different now compared to back then?

LB: I think a major difference between then and now, if not the main difference, is money. Once we started being able to shop and bank online, users became a good target for scammers, extortionists and other organized crime groups. Not to mention the environment is now extremely different; a lot of people now have a lot of their lives stored in phones, tablets, and laptops, and some of those also end up connecting to corporate or industrial networks. For organizations, this means that just defining what your network perimeter is can sometimes be impossible.

As far as national security is concerned, the public at large has become much more aware of the scale of state-level activities on communication networks, much more than when the ECHELON disclosures happened, as far as I can tell. I think that has also led to something of a change in what people’s threat model looks like.

 

KC: Echelon! I knew someone who worked at Lawrence Livermore back in the day, apparently on that particular project.

LB: That’s awesome! I work with a lot of former IC and .mil people who I understand have probably been involved in a lot of things that would make for extremely interesting conversations, but alas, I’m not cleared.

 

KC: How has your penetration testing experience helped you with your blue teamwork?

LB: It’s a big help. Understanding the different kinds of techniques and tools used by adversaries to compromise accounts, intercept traffic or steal data means I have more of an ability to spot patterns or suspicious outliers in our sensor data. Likewise, seeing how blue teams operate makes me better at doing the offensive work or, at least, doing it in a way that’s less likely to get me caught! I’m increasingly a proponent of getting the red team and blue team members to trade sides occasionally or work together to have a better understanding of how the other side operates.

 

KC: Has sexism ever been a challenge in your career?

LB: Honestly, I don’t know. When I first started, I hadn’t transitioned yet, and so I was perceived as an (effeminate, not assertive) man, and so presumably I benefited from that when it came to getting my career started. At a previous employer, after transitioning, I was the only female penetration tester in the office, the only woman I knew of working in a technical role, and the only out queer person, and I started getting more complaints about my performance. I ultimately ended up leaving, and it definitely became harder to find work afterward, but then again, what I was looking for was pretty specific. I’m lucky enough to have been hired by a woman and be managed by a woman, in my current role, even though the team is still largely white cisgender straight men.

 

KC: Well, you’re not the first transgender woman I’ve interviewed in this series. I’m happy to see more transgender people in cybersecurity.

LB: I actually applied to the place I’m working at now because a good friend of mine, who’s also trans, worked there. It was an incredible privilege to go from this extremely homogenous environment to getting to work professionally in information security with another queer trans woman.

 

KC: Is there anything you miss about your pen testing days?

LB: I do miss the “let’s be evil” feeling, sometimes and the interaction with external clients from all kinds of different industries. My job now has maybe a little less variety, but I get to stick with projects longer, and being an investigator definitely makes up for not getting to pretend to be a criminal anymore!

 

KC: I have spoken to Defensive Security Handbook authors Ian Brotherston and Amanda Berlin, who believe that defensive security is underrated in our field. Do you agree?

LB: I think that offensive security gets a lot of the glamor, but penetration testing is really only a small piece of what keeps users safe. Blue team folks definitely don’t get nearly enough credit or support; offensive security people need to only find one problem, but defensive security practitioners can’t make a single mistake.

 

KC: Do you think a lot of organizations overlook defensive security?

LB: In my experience, a lot of organizations tend to maybe focus on the wrong things: or rather, they optimize for meeting regulatory requirements. Rules say they need a firewall and quarterly penetration tests, so they buy a firewall and contract the tests out. Security should be baked in everywhere; into the software development lifecycle, the monitoring and maintenance of the corporate network, training of new employees and continuous training of your existing staff and even how the organization interacts with suppliers. The line between ‘defensive information security’ and ‘physical security’ gets fuzzy, and I don’t know if many organizations prioritize either at sufficiently many levels of the stack.

 

KC: I’ve learned a lot from you. Do you have anything else you’d like to add before we go, Liz?

LB: I think it might be worth mentioning that machine learning is increasingly something people are exploring in both the defensive and offensive information security space, and in order to both defend against robot hackers and defeat Skynet, or build either, it helps to have that blended blue and red team exposure. Otherwise, thank you so much for your work here boosting not-male voices!

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Wearable HIPAA Security Concerns Grow for mHealth Apps & Devices

Wearable HIPAA Security Concerns Grow for mHealth Apps & Devices | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Healthcare tech is moving more and more toward mHealth solutions for consumer use. Apple in particular has made major expansions into healthcare and mHealth technologies over the past few years. Many patients are using wearables such as the Apple Watch to monitor, track, and report health care data. But with this new field of mHealth, security issues abound and there are still many grey areas surrounding who is legally responsible for protecting the privacy of patient data. 

How Wearables Could Impact Your Business

In September, Apple made headlines with its newest version of the Apple Watch. CEO Tom Cook bragged about the watch’s fall detection capability, automatic workout tracking, and a heart sensor with ECG capability. With these advancements, Apple will continue to have a tremendous impact on the healthcare industry. In a recent CNBC interview, Cook said that the health-related work will be Apple’s “greatest contribution to mankind.”

 

Yet, there have already been HIPAA-related incidents stemming from multiple health tracking apps and wearables across the mHealth industry. In 2018, the popular fitness and nutrition tracking app MyFitnessPal experienced a breach, exposing the names, email addresses, and passwords of 150 million people. In addition, the fitness app Strava revealed the locations of U.S. military personnel on secret bases. According to Forbes, your electronic health records could be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars on the black market, which makes the Apple Watch and mHealth technologies like it prime targets for security breaches.

 

And of course, this affects health care professionals around the country. mHealth security vulnerabilities continue to pose a serious issue to patient privacy. And with these mHealth security and privacy concerns, HIPAA regulatory standards are in a grey area, especially where enforcement is concerned. Wearables like the Apple Watch expose privacy and security vulnerabilities for healthcare consumers, providers, and vendors working in the healthcare space alike.

Who’s Responsible for Wearable Data?

When it comes to HIPAA, covered entities must be compliant with the full extent of the regulation. A covered entity is any health care provider, health plan, or health care clearinghouse that uses protected health information (PHI) for the purpose of payment, treatment, or operations.

 

Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, covered entities must implement the necessary safeguards to ensure that PHI is kept safe. PHI is any demographic information used to identify a patient. Some common examples of PHI include names, email addresses, addresses, and Social Security numbers, to name a few.

 

That means that if a doctor partners with wearable companies, and is using that biometric data over the course of care, then they are responsible for protecting patients’ PHI. However, the mHealth apps and wearable companies themselves are likely considered business associates under HIPAA. Business associates include any organization that handles PHI on behalf of another HIPAA-beholden entity. The liability in the event of a data breach concerning PHI collected by mHealth devices but used over the course of treatment for a patient presents a new challenge to HIPAA regulation.

 

However, changes to HIPAA regulation or HIPAA guidance in response to new and evolving technologies is not new. In 2009, the HITECH Act was passed, which made sweeping changes to HIPAA regulation in response to the rise of electronic health records (EHR) platforms and the increasingly digital shift across the healthcare industry.

 

HIPAA guidance regarding the use of mHealth tech, apps, and wearables will likely be addressed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the years ahead. However, in the meantime, covered entities and business associates should guard against the potential for data loss, federal fines, and cyber-security risk by implementing an effective HIPAA compliance program to protect their business.

HIPAA Compliance Comes First!

As technology continues to develop, organizations within the healthcare industry will still need to comply with HIPAA regulations.

 

Compliancy Group gives healthcare professionals the tools they need to effectively address the full extent of HIPAA regulation. We give your organization confidence in your compliance with our proprietary achieve, illustrate, and maintain methodology, all housed in our cloud-based app, the Guard. The Guard allows users to address every element of what the law requires to give you peace of mind.

 

Users will also have help along the way. Our Compliance Coaches will walk you through every step of the process and ensure you have a complete understanding of HIPAA.

 

Compliancy Group is here to simplify compliance so you can confidently focus on your business. Find out how we can help!

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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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Bridging the Patient | Provider Divide

Bridging the Patient | Provider Divide | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

There is a growing divide between patients and providers over medical billing. While patient surveys repeatedly cite online accessibility and ease of billing as top concerns, most healthcare providers are not working to address those concerns.

 

A February article in BeckersHospitalReview found that upgrading digital payment tools was not a priority for most healthcare providers. A separate survey found that 79 percent of patients “consider the billing and payment experience” when choosing a healthcare provider.

 

StrongBox eSolution, based in Boca Raton, FL, is working to bridge the patient/provide divide by addressing the needs of patients while providing innovating solutions for providers through our cloud-based revenue cycle management software and patient financing solutions.

 

What Poll Results Tell Us About Patient Expectations


A recent report by Patientco surveyed more than 50 providers at large health systems that had more
than 350 beds and 200 patients on average. Here are their findings.

 

  • Nearly 80 percent of patients said they consider billing options when choosing their healthcare provider.
  • The vast majority (90.5 percent) of patient respondents said they prefer the option to pay their medical bills through installment payments.
  • Nearly 70 percent of patient respondents prefer digital enrollment over mail.
  • Flexible payment options are desired by 87 percent of provider respondents.
  • Half of the patients reported affordability as a top concern while less than 13 percent of providers shared that concern. 

 

The patients have spoken. Affordability and ease of access are top priorities for patients, even if those concerns aren’t always shared by providers. So how can your private practice, MSO, or  medical/dental group begin to bridge the divide and benefit from a more efficient billing system? Simple. By using StrongBox eSolutions, our platform as a service offers two benefits that serve both your patients and your bottom line.


StrongBox eSolutions Services
StrongBox creates a win-win for both providers and patients. Your patients will receive a streamlined
billing and payment experience. We offer two financing options (Select and Pro) that will  provide your
patients with:

  • No hidden markups
  • Fixed-rate loans
  • No interest hikes for late payments
  • Access to top-tier lenders
  • Zero credit score impact
  • Fast lender response
  • Hassle-free applications
  • Fixed monthly payments

 

As a provider, you will receive an enhanced revenue profile and a lower risk profile.  StrongBox efficiency creation helps create a better patient experience, which in turn leads to higher patient
satisfaction and higher patient retention.

 

Providers also benefit from our interactive Dashboard, which tracks Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
such as:

  • Total encounters
  • Total collections
  • Charges
  • Number of procedures
  • Total adjustments
  • Enhanced tracking over outstanding accounts receivable (AR)

 

You can view KPIs on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. Plus, we offer a 12-month revenue
snapshot that can be used to compare profitability with prior years. Any reports that are not built-in can
be added by using our software’s custom reporting tools.

 

Learn How StrongBox eSolutions Services Is Bridging the Patients/Provider Divide

 

Nearly 80 percent of patients consider billing options when choosing their healthcare provider. When patients are empowered to handle their own billing and financing, patient payment compliance rises and delinquent payments drop. Our online Patient Payment Portal is designed with this in mind.

 

By partnering with our online services, you will be sending the message that your business is listening and addressing those concerns. To learn more about our services, contact our team online or call our Boca Raton, FL office at (855) 468-7876.

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How to Meet HIPAA Compliance Requirements

How to Meet HIPAA Compliance Requirements | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

A Revolutionary Approach to HIPAA Compliance

We all know that meeting the requirements set forth in the HIPAA compliance policy is mandatory for any healthcare, medical records, insurance, or other healthcare-related business. Securing individuals’ electronic protected health information (ePHI) is the most critical step to complying with HIPAA.

 

Yet this is often easier said than done, especially when you consider the high number of complex requirements that must be met in order to prove compliance.

The challenges of abiding by the “Security Rule”

For example, one of the most critical items on any HIPAA compliance checklist is meeting the Security Standards for the Protection of Electronic Health Information. Commonly referred to as the “Security Rule,” this requirement establishes a national set of security standards for protecting certain health information that is held or transferred in electronic form.

The Security Rule addresses the technical and non-technical safeguards that organizations referred to “covered entities” must put in place to secure individuals’ ePHI. All covered entities must assess their security risks, even those entities who utilize certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. Those entities must put in place administrative, physical and technical safeguards to maintain compliance with the Security Rule, and document every security compliance measure.

Related: Sorry for the Inconvenience – The Breaches Just Keep Coming (and so do the Ramifications)

CSPi’s HIPAA compliance solutions

If all of this sounds intimidating, we have some good news: CSPi’s security solutions are uniquely suited to address the requirements specified in the Security Rule (and in turn, to help you stay HIPAA compliant).

Our ARIA Software-Defined Security (SDS) solution and applications help healthcare organizations protect the security of individuals’ ePHI information with powerful tools and capabilities required to:

  • Know and prove what ePHI records were accessed (if any) through:

    • The automatic detection of intrusion or unauthorized access.
    • Continual and complete monitoring of ePHI data as it moves through the network (including east-west traffic), and is accessed throughout the environment.
    • The ability to stop or disrupt incidents that could lead to potential disclosure.
    • Block or redirect identified data conversations with ePHI repositories and provide the auditable documented detail of measures take to maintain HIPAA compliance.
    • Prevent unauthorized access of customer data through the use of encryption that can be applied on a per-customer basis.

Working in conjunction with ARIA, our nVoy Series provides additional proof of HIPAA compliance with:

  • Automated breach verification and notification, critical to giving healthcare organizations a better way to comply.
  • Detailed and complete HIPAA compliance reports, including recordings of all conversations involving ePHI.
  • Auditable proof of the exact impact of data breach, including:
    • What devices are involved and to what degree?
    • When did the breach start and when did it end?
    • What critical databases or files were accessed?
    • Who did the intruder talk to?

Visit CSPi at HIMSS19 in the Cybersecurity Command Center Booth 400, Kiosk 91.

Interested in learning more about CSPi, including how our innovative security tools are helping today’s healthcare leaders achieve compliance with HIPAA? Make your plans to visit with us at the upcoming HIMSS conference, or visit www.cspi.com, to learn more about our HIPAA compliance programs.

About CSPi

CSPi is a leading cybersecurity firm that has been solving security challenges since 1968. Our security solutions take a radically different approach to enterprise-wide data security by focusing on the data at its source, securing DevOps applications and leveraging network traffic for actionable insights. CSPI’s ARIA SDS platform uses a simple automated approach to protect any organization’s critical data, including PII/PHI, on-premise and in public clouds, no matter if is in use, in transit, or at rest. Our Myricom® nVoy Series appliances provide compliance assurance, automated breach verification and network monitoring enabled by the 10G dropless packet capture capabilities of our Myricom® ARC intelligent adapters. To learn more about how our cybersecurity products can help you with data privacy regulation compliance, check out our how-to guide, “Successfully Complying with Data Privacy Regulations.”

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Cybersecurity in the Spotlight 

Cybersecurity in the Spotlight  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Once again, cybersecurity issues will be in the spotlight at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference, to be held Feb. 11-15 in Orlando, Florida.

 

This year's event at the Orange County Convention Center promises 1,300-plus exhibitors, including more than 70 vendors in the show's dedicated Cybersecurity Command Center.

 

The conference is expected to draw more than 45,000 attendees and offer more than 300 educational sessions spanning 24 topics - including cybersecurity and privacy as well as related regulatory updates.

Cybersecurity sessions will be weaved in throughout the week, with many taking place at the Cybersecurity Command Center. But the topic will also get special treatment on Monday, Feb. 11. A Cybersecurity Forum that day geared to CISOs and other health IT security leaders is among a handful of pre-show workshops before HIMSS19 officially opens on Tuesday.

Cybersecurity Forum

The Cybersecurity Forum has several key learning objectives for its attendees, HIMSS says, including:

  • Explain the types and details of recent cyberthreats;
  • Discuss what's new, what's different, what to look out for, and the impact on administrative, clinical operations and patient safety;
  • Describe how organizations can work better and smarter to enhance their cybersecurity program, despite resource and financial constraints.

Featured speakers at the forum include Ron Mehring, CISO at Texas Health Resources; Kevin McDonald, director of clinical information security at Mayo Clinic; Jason Hawley, director of information services and security at Yuma District Hospital & Clinics; Mitch Parker, executive director, information security and compliance at Indiana University Health; and James Brady, CIO of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

Regulatory Updates

As usual, the HIMSS conference will provide opportunities to hear from government officialsabout the latest policy plans and other developments. Agencies to be featured include:

  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology, offering a session on Monday, Feb. 11, about its cybersecurity framework;
  • The Food and Drug Administration, which will describe its digital health software precertification program on Tuesday, Feb. 12;
  • The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, which will be featured in a number of sessions, including a standards and technology update slated for Thursday, Feb. 14.

I predict one of the best attended government sessions will be the HIPAA enforcement and compliance update on Tuesday, Feb. 12, featuring Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Technology Spotlight

Among the emerging technologies to be spotlighted at the show is blockchain, which will be showcased at a four-hour forum on Wednesday, Feb 13, including a session about blockchain's privacy, security and compliance considerations in healthcare.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are buzzwords that are guaranteed to be used by many of the exhibitors showcasing their health IT gear. But ML and AI will also be discussed at a variety of educational sessions, including a special all-day pre-show forum.

 

Many of the sessions at that forum appear to be heavily focused on the application of ML and AI for clinical applications. But the use of AI and ML for securing health data will also be showcased in a separate session, "AI in Healthcare: Ethical and Legal Considerations", at the Cybersecurity Command Center .

 

As usual, I'll be at the conference attending sessions as well as meeting with numerous healthcare CISOs, government leaders and other privacy and security experts. I'll share their insights in audio interviews, articles and blogs, so be on the lookout for daily updates on our HIMSS19 news site.

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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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Empower Patients With StrongBox Payment Portal & Patient Financing Alternatives

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

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

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4 Things to Know About Telehealth

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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