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Cryptomining Malware Can Affect HIPAA Obligations

Cryptomining Malware Can Affect HIPAA Obligations | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The well-established security firm Check Point recently ranked cryptomining as the leading cyber-threat in healthcare – ahead of ransomware. Cryptomining malware, also known as cryptocurrency mining malware, refers to software programs and malware components developed to take over a computer’s resources and use them for cryptocurrency mining, without a user’s authorization. This hijacking of computer resources can result in a shutdown and even total systems failure.  Cryptomining is not specifically addressed by the HIPAA security rule. However, the threat of cryptomining malware should make covered entities and business associates evaluate their Security Rule compliance efforts, and, if necessary, implementing additional cybersecurity measures as needed to protect against this unique and powerful threat.

 

Under the HIPAA Security Rule, covered entities and business associates must implement administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronically protected health information (ePHI). Cryptomining malware can compromise this confidentiality, availability, and integrity. To understand the nature of the threat posed by cryptomining malware, it is useful to first understand some basic concepts.


These include cryptocurrencycryptography, and cryptomining.

What is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is digital money that can be purchased, transferred, and/or sold. Cryptocurrency exists solely on the Internet. This form of currency is not backed by anything tangible (such as gold), nor is it backed or managed by any bank or government. Cryptocurrency transactions, or trades, are changed and verified by a decentralized (not affiliated with anyone single entity) network of computers.

What is Cryptography?

Cryptography is a method of protecting information by encrypting it into an unreadable format known as ciphertext. Ciphertext can be converted to regular text through the process of decryption. Cryptography encrypts and protects the data used to help identify and track cryptocurrency transactions.

What is Cryptomining? 

Cryptocurrency miners engage in cryptomining to earn more cryptocurrency (often referred to as “coins” or “Bitcoins”). 

Here is how the mining process works:

Miners compete with other cryptominers to solve complicated mathematical problems. Solving the problems enables the miner to authorize a transaction and to chain together (blockchain) blocks of transactions. Once a transaction is included in a block, it is secure and complete.

For his or her mining activities, the miner receives a small amount of cryptocurrency of his or her own, The more currency a miner “mines,” the more currency a miner ends up owning. Cryptocurrency can then be sold for actual cash. 

So, you may now be thinking, …..

“What Does Any of This Have to do with HIPAA Health Care?”

Crpyotmining malware is surreptitiously installed on a user’s computer. Once it is installed, the  cryptomining malware turns the affected computer, in effect, into a mining operation – one through which the miners solve their math problems and “earn” their coins and cash.

Here’s the problem: Cryptomining has an enormous appetite for computer power.  As the malware is enabling the mining, the mining process consumes significant computing power, bandwidth, and even electricity.  Particularly persistent forms of malware consume resources even after a user has logged off.   

Eventually, a device or a network may simply become unable to mining malware’s energy requirements, causing the device or network to crash.

Since any Internet-connected device can be infected with cryptomining malware, those devices used by covered entities or business associates that are missing essential security features – which features include, but are not limited to, antivirus software, firewalls, updates and patches for operating systems – can, upon a malware attack, shut down or experience total system failure.  ePHI data thus becomes compromised. As in, lost, rendered inaccessible, or damaged beyond repair. The HIPAA Security rule thus becomes implicated, and, if an organization is found to have implemented ineffective security safeguards, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR) can audit and fine that organization.

Compliancy Group Simplifies HIPAA Compliance

Covered entities and business associates can address their HIPAA cybersecurity compliance obligations under the Security Rule by working with Compliancy Group.

Our ongoing support and web-based compliance app, The Guard™, gives healthcare organizations the tools to address HIPAA cybersecurity issues so they can get back to confidently running their business. 

Find out how Compliancy Group has helped thousands of organizations like yours Achieve, Illustrate, and MaintainTM  their HIPAA compliance!

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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What Are Wireless Business Phone Systems?

What Are Wireless Business Phone Systems? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Small businesses take a lot of calls each day. How many? They get approximately 400 million per day.

 

Historically, growing small businesses turned to PBX or private branch exchange systems.

 

In recent years, however, small businesses chose wireless business phone systems. So, what is a wireless phone system and how does it compare with traditional PBX systems?

Traditional PBX

A PBX system basically works like a switchboard. It allows internal users to call one another on local extensions. It also routes external calls through a set number of external lines or numbers.

 

Some businesses inherit old PBX systems that prove entirely analog when they buy or lease a building. These systems will disappear over time as PBX service providers switch over to digital technology to route calls.

 

PBX solutions were deisgned for single location businesses in which all workers come into the office every day to work.

Wireless Systems

A wireless phone system performs the same essential routing tasks as a PBX system but does it without the pesky hardware. Instead, wireless systems use a cloud-based system that centralizes all of the call routing. Instead of all your calls getting routed around by on-site, analog or digital switches, the routing happens on a server at a data center.

Wireless System Benefits

Wireless systems offer a wide range of potential benefits, many that you can’t get through a PBX system or only for a fee.

 

The switch to a modern, cloud-based system makes a bunch of exciting features available. Video conferencing tops the list. With businesses relying on remote workers, video conferencing helps maintain team unity. Many providers bundle this feature in a standard part of their service package.

 

You can also take advantage of call recording services, which lets you monitor customer service calls. That lets you coach your team when they fall away from best practices. You can also record client meetings to keep track of orders or new service contract particulars.

 

Service providers may also offer integration with your CRM system. This helps keep your customer records up-to-date whenever you get a call.

Standard features you get with wireless systems include:

  • Talk and text
  • Computer-based calling
  • Multiple extensions
  • Video chat

Of course, no system lacks flaws. So, let’s move on to the pitfalls.

Wireless System Pitfalls

As with all other cloud-based applications, a wireless phone system depends on a stable broadband connection. If your broadband service is sketchy, the quality of your calls will end up equally sketchy. You could expect fade-outs, distorted speech, or dropped calls.

 

The good news is that broadband quality and reliability has come a very long way in the last few years and most people can count on having sufficient bandwidth to support calls that are indistinguishable from land-line calls.

PBX System Pitfalls

PBX systems create several pitfalls.

You’ll pay a hefty fee for the hardware and installation. That’s before you even get into the cost for the service and lines. Since cloud-based systems have no hardware, you pay no hardware or installation fees.

 

Each individual line you get from the service provider costs money (they are usually purchased in groups of 23) and you’ll pay an additional per minute rate for each call.

 

By comparison, wireless systems typically charge a small fee for each number and either a low, per minute rate for domestic calls or an unlimited calling plan.

Picking Between the Options

For many businesses, a wireless system makes a lot of sense.

You get a wide range of additional features you can’t get with PBX. You avoid steep hardware and installation costs. You can even dodge long-distance fees with a little bit of effort.

 

For any business with access to good broadband, it’s something of a no-brainer.

 

 

 

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

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

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COVID-19 Telehealth Considerations

COVID-19 Telehealth Considerations | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Many healthcare providers have been working to define and implement a telehealth strategy over the past several years. In the initiatives I’ve been involved with, this has generally been a slow march through figuring out the legal, reimbursement, compliance, and physician staffing and compensation implications.

 

With current events, this timeline has obviously accelerated, with IT and clinical staff being tasked with standing up telehealth programs in weeks, if not days, to deal with COVID-19.

 

Telehealth is a key tool to limit visitors at a time of overcapacity, to reduce the risk of infection spread, and to manage non-Covid-19 care when clinics are closed.

 

Below I outline some of the key considerations I have seen in my work with telemedicine, and what that might mean in the near term for health systems scrambling to deploy telehealth functionality as soon as possible.

 

Here focused on synchronous, clinician to home-based patient communication, although launching other forms of telemedicine (clinician to clinician, virtual ICU, etc.) will have similar concerns.

 

TECHNOLOGY


For both hardware and software, there is limited time to go through assessments and procurement processes.

 

Given the time-sensitivity, the focus should be on understanding what is available to be deployed immediately. For hardware, that may mean distributing laptops to ensure clinicians have access to camera and microphone-equipped PCs, or even redistributing hardware from training rooms.

 

For software, this will entail understanding precisely what applications you currently have available, and what the licensing implications would be to scale up to additional users.

 

If a new application or additional licenses are necessary, it is important to pull in legal and supply chain as soon as possible to ensure an efficient contracting process.

 

OPERATING MODEL


The technology for telehealth is relatively easy, but getting clinician, compliance, and revenue cycle leadership buy-in is not. I recommend immediately standing up a taskforce with accountability for decision making and defining policies and procedures.

 

This group should include your IT, EMR, HIM/privacy, compliance, and physician leadership. They will be tasked with determining who is staffing the telehealth service, what the patient consent process is, patient and clinician support, and how documentation will be entered into your EMR.

 

Since time is of the essence here, pulling this group together for a couple of long work sessions is likely the most expedient route.

 

TRAINING AND SUPPORT


You will need to be able to quickly and efficiently train your providers, IT help desk, and scheduling and registration staff. Reception and call center staff will need to know the basics to direct patients to online appointments.

 

Clinicians will need tip sheets on configuring hardware, installing software, and managing appointments and documentation. Help desk staff will need to understand setup and troubleshooting, including working with “non-standard” devices as clinicians work from home.

 

You will need basic how-tos for your patients, and coordination with your marketing and web teams to publish information and links to your telehealth service.

 

LONG-TERM PLANNING


The version of telehealth that you roll out overnight is not likely to be the ideal model.

 

Once your immediate telehealth service is operational at scale, your focus can turn to the longer-term view. This plan should be focused on patient and provider usability, integration with your existing patient portal and digital front door, and seamless interoperability with your EMR.

 

Scoping out the new interfaces, services, or UI integration will allow you to plan for and allocate your team over the coming weeks. While the immediate need for Covid-19 screening is urgent, telehealth will continue to be very relevant over the coming months to allow non-Covid-19 business as usual for those with chronic conditions or requiring prescription refills.

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

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
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The Top 10 Benefits of an Internet Business Phone System

The Top 10 Benefits of an Internet Business Phone System | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The voice over internet protocol (VoIP) market is expected to reach $55 billion by 2025. More companies are making the switch to VoIP, allowing them to make calls using broadband internet instead of a conventional phone system.

 

VoIP works by converting sounds into digital communications. Then, the digital file is transferred through internet broadband. By using VoIP, companies can use the internet to make phone calls!

 

Why make the switch? Keep reading to find out. Here are the 10 benefits of switching to a virtual phone system!

 

1. Easy Installation And Integration

 

Many businesses hesitate to make major technological changes. Any change takes time, testing, and money. Installing, configuring, and maintaining a VoIP, however, is incredibly easy.

 

In fact, it’s so easy that VoIP is now the number one telephone service choice for businesses in the country. Already 36 percent of businesses are utilizing a VoIP.

 

Even someone who is less technically savvy can install a VoIP on their own. You can either call an expert technician or try it yourself. VoIP phones are pretty much plug-and-play.

 

It’s also very easy to add new users using hosted VoIP software. The web portal will make it easy for you to move, add, and change systems as needed. The simplicity means you also won’t have to worry about maintenance.

 

As a result, you’ll rarely need professional support when making changes.

 

VoIP also makes it easy for you to utilize other systems and technologies. Integrating other Softwares can enhance your operations, boosting efficiency throughout your company. VoIP integrates a wide variety of business systems, allowing you to customize your VoIP as you see fit.

 

In other words, you’ll have all the benefits of VoIP without needing someone to modify your existing IT infrastructure.

 

2. Scalability

 

One of the top benefits of using an internet business phone system is its scalability.

 

Your virtual phone system will scale along with the needs of your business. A traditional phone system, on the other hand, is usually more difficult to scale. You’ll likely need an IT expert to handle any changes you might need.

 

This scalability will support your company’s efficiency and productivity efforts. You won’t have to waste time or money making company-wide changes to your system.

 

Instead, you can use your small business phone system to add a line the next time you hire a new employee. You can eliminate lines if you’re downsizing, too. Either way, your VoIP will scale along with you.

 

3. Reliability

 

As your company grows, you’ll need a system you can rely on.

 

Some companies think that if they’re without internet, they’ll end up without a phone system as well. One of the benefits of VoIP is that you can still rely on your system even if the internet does go down. In case of an event like this, you can have your calls forwarded to your mobile phone or another device.

 

That means you won’t have to worry about weather issues or power outages impacting your business operations.

 

4. Effective Communication

 

Whether your team is big or small, you’ll need to make sure everyone can communicate. With more people working from home, it’s important to have a system that prioritizes communication.

 

With a virtual phone system, the line will ring at your desk phone a few times before ringing on your mobile device, laptop, or tablet.

 

As a result, you won’t have to worry about missing urgent calls. You’ll save time trying to check your voicemail, too!

 

5. Flexibility

 

With a mobile business phone system, you don’t need your underlying network as part of a specific technology layout. Instead, you can use your existing ethernet, ATM, WiFi, or SONET as the foundation of the network.

 

Traditional phone networks require a lot of complexity, which can make it difficult for your IT team to make adjustments. The network flexibility with VoIP allows you to create a standardized system. As a result, you can support a number of communication types and require less equipment management.

 

6. Additional Features

 

There are a number of benefits and additional features that come included with your internet business phone system. For example, VoIP systems allow clients to connect with a variety of devices. This makes it easier for you to keep your company’s productivity levels up.

 

VoIP programs often include:

 

  • Caller ID
  • Virtual numbers
  • Contact lists
  • Voicemail

You can customize these features to improve your company’s operational efficiency.

 

For example, you can have voicemails forwarded to multiple co-workers. You can also use voicemail-to-text transcriptions and send these documents to your email with ease.

 

7. Work From Anywhere Access

 

Are more of your employees working from home? A work-at-home program can help you save money on office space and decrease utility costs. Before you make that transition, however, it helps to have a VoIP in place.

 

VoIP can ensure your team communicates effectively. Employees can use the voice, fax, and data services through their internet connection.

 

Employees can communicate straight from their home offices or even abroad.

 

As a result, you don’t have to worry about a drop in communication with your team members.

 

8. Simplified Conferences

 

Traditional phone systems allow you to conference with teams and clients. However, you usually need to pay for an additional service in order to host multiple callers. With a small business phone system, you can simplify this process.

 

VoIP removes the need for dedicated phone lines. Instead, you’ll operate on a converged data network. The features are usually native.

 

With the cost already built-in, you won’t have to worry about paying more for conferencing features.

 

9. Functionality

 

With a VoIP, you’re not limited to phone calls. You can also host video-conference, allowing you to communicate with co-workers and clients better than before. Video-conferencing will allow you to share meetings, files, documents, and agendas right from your VoIP system.

 

10. Cost-Efficiency

 

Above all else, switching to a virtual phone system will help your company cut costs. These systems are cheaper than conventional phone systems. The ability to install and remove lines as needed will help you adjust your system to cut costs, too.

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

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

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4 Reasons Why You Need Telehealth for Your Practice

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

Telehealth defined

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Patients prefer that their telehealth provider knows them.

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

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

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

 

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

Providers want to see their own patients virtually.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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What's the Best Small Business Phone System?

What's the Best Small Business Phone System? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Business Phone Systems Basics

Most businesses use a business phone system. It consists of a calling network infrastructure that manages all the communications. It is designed to handle the complex needs of companies, customer service calls, and the call routing that carries calls to the correct person. 

 

Some of the more useful features available in a business telephone system include the following:

  • Call Transfer
  • Greetings
  • Hold Music
  • Dial-by-Name Directory
  • Call Detail Records
  • Call Handling Rules
  • Text Messaging 
  • Many more

Types of Business Phone Systems

Traditional

In a traditional business phone system setup, a local PBX (private branch exchange) system is needed to manage multiple lines.

 

Physical lines connect these and then link them together within an on-site network. This system is often installed and maintained by an external company, such as an IT consultant or PBX reseller.

 

Extensions are created for each user by assigning to them one of the local PBX lines. In most cases, extensions are associated using a three or 4-digit number used to route calls to a specific person’s desk.

 

Extending this system as your company grows requires additional hardware to be added. It also takes time to have the changes made, which makes this process costly and time-consuming. 

 

Positives

  • Able to handles hundreds of lines
  • Doesn’t need an internet connection
  • Offers on-site or hosted options

Negatives

  • Expensive to upgrade or reconfigure
  • Costly monthly phone bill
  • Needs frequent maintenance and servicing

Virtual Phone Systems

Modern business phone systems go beyond tradition; they are full-service virtual solutions for small business communications that utilize high-speed internet connections and hosted software.

 

 A virtual phone system can have all the same features as an old-fashioned PBX without all the equipment.

 

These phone systems are specifically designed to meet the varied needs of a growing business.

 

They allow teams and employees to keep in touch seamlessly using a bevy of powerful tools. Virtual phone systems are powered by VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) technology.

 

The handling call routing and signal processing all done remotely, requiring only a small monthly fee, thereby saving you loads of money and time. 

 

VoIP systems are a good choice for any business, but most especially small businesses. The main reason for this is its flexibility. Adding new users and features as your business grows is easy and instant.

 

Since this system uses cloud technology, it works well with mobile phones. That makes it ideal for businesses that have virtual offices, remote employees, or a need to keep employees connected to customers on the go.

 

Having a virtual office phone system doesn’t mean “mobile-only.” You can have a virtual phone system that works with traditional handsets, computers, as well as mobile phones. These systems quickly adapt to your needs. 

 

Here are some of the critical advantages of using the cloud for your phone system:

  • Save the cost associated with housing the equipment on-site
  • As it is hosted on a third-party server, you don’t have to think about maintenance—your provider handles that
  • Since it is super easy to expand, your virtual office can grow or shrink as needed
  • Usually, monthly phone costs are a lot less than a traditional phone system
  • It is easy to install without the need for outside consultants
  • Works with smartphones and other internet-connected devices
  • You are free to choose whatever area code you want for your business
  • Callers enjoy HD call quality

One of the main concerns people have about switching to a virtual phone system is that they’ll be relying on the provider to ensure the system is up and running, rather than their own I.T. team.

 

That’s why it is critical to make a smart choice when you select your vendor. 

What are the Key Points for Buying a Small Business Phone System?

When you are shopping for a small business phone system, there are a few things that help define your search. When it comes to finding the best fit for your business keeps these in mind:

 

  • Budget: Make sure you understand all of the initial and monthly fees for the set of services that you need.

 

  • Reputation: Because the market for virtual phone systems is so hot, there are a lot of vendors on the scene. Make sure you pick one that’s been around for a while and has a good reputation for customer success. (Fun fact, our founder, Alon Cohen launched the world’s first VoIP product way back in 1995.)

 

  • Fit: Some vendors are focused on servicing giant corporations. If you are a small team, they may not be working on the kinds of features that are important to your type of business. You don’t want to pay for the development of features you will never use, so choose a vendor that is focused on the needs of customers like you.
Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

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

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Telemedicine Checklist

Telemedicine Checklist | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

1. Identify Your Mission and Goals

 

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

 

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

 

2. Identify Your Patients

 

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

 

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

 

3. Create a Relevant Profile

 

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

 

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

 

4. Manage Your Licenses

 

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

 

5. Research HIPAA-Compliant Platforms

 

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

 

6. Reach Out to Telemedicine Recruiters

 

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

 

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

 

7. Acquire Legal Consultation

 

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

 

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

 

8. Assess Needs and Identify Resources

 

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

 

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

 

9. Set Up Your Office

 

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

 

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

 

10. Engage in Networking

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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How to Pick the Best Business Phone System for You

How to Pick the Best Business Phone System for You | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Did you know that consumers prefer a personal relationship with small business owners? Well, recent reports indicate that 60% of customers communicate with small entrepreneurs over the phone.

 

For entrepreneurs, knowing how your customers love to communicate with you is an insightful revelation.

 

It helps you provide a communication system that offers them the best experience.

 

Are you unable to decide on the best business phone system for your new establishment? You need to keep in mind the phone systems today are not merely tools for making and receiving calls.

 

Customers will want a unified system that permits an array of communication options.

 

That way, your employees can also connect to clients in whichever way they choose.

 

The market has countless phone systems options, and you could easily fall into confusion. But you could turn that to your advantage by knowing the killer selection tips.

 

What Features Should You Consider as a Solo Entrepreneur?

You probably don’t wish to incur a whole new expenditure installing a new system. As such, you need to adopt a phone system that will sustain the establishment in the future.

 

You likely have expansion goals in the future, and you will not run the business alone forever. You can envision the number of staff you are likely to have soon.

 

Check out some key phone system features for a sole proprietor.

1. Scalability

Scalability is a crucial feature for your sole enterprise if you have expansion goals. You can easily add phones to the system each time you hire new staff. The VoIP system could be a good option for adding your new team.

2. Call Logs

If you run the business all alone, the information coming your way could be overwhelming. If you choose a phone system with call logs, you’ll never miss a beat. With call logs you can view all incoming, outgoing, fax and missed calls to your business phone number(s).

You can even filter logs to view only calls made to a specific queue, extension or calls made to/from an individual number.

3. Call Handling Rules

Although your business is small (for now), with the right business phone system, you can give callers the type of experience that has only been available to large enterprises that can afford to spend a fortune. Fortunately, modern systems make features like call handling rules available for everyone.

Using call handling rules, you can route incoming calls to a single destination, or different destinations based on the day and time or the Caller ID of the call received. You can send calls to voicemail, menus, custom greetings, or even your computer.

 

Does Your Business Have More Than Five Employees?

If you’ve got a small team handling your business, efficiency is the name of the game. You’ll want to look for a solution that covers all of these bases.

1. Is It User-Friendly?

Some aspects of the system could seem simple to you but remember you won’t be handling calls alone. You need a system that your team can comfortably handle and serve customers in the best way.

Look for a solution that is intuitive and be sure that the provider offers technical support.

2. Mobile Applications

A part of your team could be sales and marketing individuals, and I bet they spend most of their time out. So, how do they keep in touch with clients?

Your VoIP phone service should support extensions for each team member. 78% of adults own a mobile phone, and you could take advantage of the fact. Your team can receive calls away from the office using a mobile app or softphones.

3. Call Recording

Call recording is an excellent way to support your training and quality assurance efforts. Look for a system that lets you choose to record all calls, all incoming calls, all outbound calls, or a custom setup that you choose.

You may have to pay a bit extra for call recording, but it can be a big productivity booster, so it’s worth it.

 

What If Your Business Has More Than 10 Employees?

Well, congratulations! Your business is taking the right path. However, you have to upgrade your business phone service.

You are probably wondering what features would work best for your big team. Here are some of the features to inquire about as you talk to your phone service providers.

1. Conference Calls

Your team is big, and you don’t want to limit their productivity. They will probably need to communicate with different clients at the same time using your network.

Choose a service that gives each employee an easy-to-configure conference bridge that has a dedicated number and is password protected. This allows your team to easily set up a conference call without having to plan ahead or use a third-party conferencing provider.

2. Call Routing

Everyone seems busy at their desks, and it could be challenging to know who among the team members is available to respond to a call. Your system could solve the puzzle for you!

Make sure the VoIP phone system can route calls to whoever is available.

3. Emergency Management

Some emergencies could cut off communication in your business, and you shouldn’t take chances. Your business needs to keep moving despite the weather — thus, your system ought to eliminate possible downtime.

The recovery infrastructure needs to be topnotch and ensure communication keeps flowing after the disaster, power failure, or weather emergency.

4. Call Data Records

Call data records give you insight into your business activities. Are there certain times of day, days of the week, or parts of the year that require additional staffing? Is every employee who is expected to be engaged on the phones pulling their weight? 

Your system can do more than help you make calls, it can help you manage your business.

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The HIPAA Security Rule and Vulnerability Scans

The HIPAA Security Rule and Vulnerability Scans | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Under the HIPAA Security Rule, covered entities must implement safeguards to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronically protected health information (ePHI).

 

ePHI is any protected health information that is created, stored, transmitted, or received in any electronic format. 

 

To this end, the HIPAA Security Rule requires covered entities to perform a security risk analysis (also known as security risk assessment), which the Security Rule defines as an “accurate and thorough assessment of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information held by the covered entity or business associate.” Scans known as vulnerability scans may be performed to identify known vulnerabilities in applications, networks, and firewalls. 

What are Vulnerability Scans?

Vulnerabilities are weaknesses which, if triggered or exploited by a threat, create a risk of improper access to or disclosure of ePHI.

 

 Vulnerability scans are scans designed to identify vulnerabilities, or weaknesses, that have the potential to cause a security incident. 


Under the HIPAA Security Rule, a security incident is defined as:

  • The attempted or successful unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, or destruction of information in an information system; or
  • The attempted or successful unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification or interference with system operations in an information system. 

In plain English, a HIPAA security incident is an attempt (which can be successful or not) to do something unauthorized.

 

The “something” that is unauthorized, is an unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, destruction, or interference.

 

A HIPAA security incident may occur when:

  1. The unauthorized attempt to access, use, disclose, modify, destroy, or interfere, targets an organization’s information system.
  2. The unauthorized attempt is made to access, use, disclose, modify, or interfere with that information system’s system operations.

What are Examples of HIPAA Security Incidents?

Examples of a HIPAA security incident include:

  • Theft of passwords that are used to access electronic protected health information (ePHI).
  • Viruses, malware, or hacking attacks that interfere with the operations of information systems with ePHI.
  • Failure to terminate the account of a former employee that is then used by an unauthorized user to access information systems with ePHI.
  • Providing media with ePHI, such as a PC hard drive or laptop, to another user who is not authorized to access the ePHI prior to removing the ePHI stored on the media.

How Do Vulnerability Scans Identify Weaknesses?

HIPAA vulnerability scans to test for holes and flaws in information systems, and for incorrect system implementation and configuration.

Common flaws that can be revealed through a vulnerability scan include:

  • Flaws in software. Such flaws can be found in computer operating systems, such as Microsoft 7. Such flaws can also be found in software programs, such as Microsoft Office, Google Chrome, or Internet Explorer. 
  • Flaws in hardware. Vulnerability scans can reveal vulnerabilities that exist on hardware devices. Hardware devices include network firewalls, printers, or routers.  

If a vulnerability scan identifies a vulnerability, the vulnerability may be remediated if the software or network vendor at issue has released a security patch. Installation of the patch may eliminate the security weakness.  

 
 
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What is HIPAA And How To Comply With The HIPAA Security Rule

What is HIPAA And How To Comply With The HIPAA Security Rule | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a US legalization that requires healthcare professionals and institutions to secure health information from deletions and data breaches.

 

This law has become relevant in today’s dental practice due to increased data breaches caused by ransomware and cyber attacks.

 

The law’s requirements on HIPAA can be demanding and challenging to understand, but we’ve made it easy for you below. There are three areas you need to be compliant with HIPAA.

 

• PHYSICAL – these are measures that prevent loss of devices and physical theft on medical information e.g. keeping workstations away from the public eye and limiting physical access to computers.

 

• ADMINISTRATIVE – measures that make sure patient data is accessible to authorized personnel and is correct. For example, identifying which employees have access to medical information.

 

• TECHNICAL – these are measures that protect your devices and networks from unauthorized access and data breaches e.g. encrypting files that you upload to a cloud or send via email.

 

The components above represent every aspect of your dental practice from your record-keeping and policies to your building safety and technology.

 

HIPAA also requires all your staff members to work together to protect patient data and be on the same page.

 

HIPAA COMPLIANCE

 

The administrative, physical, and technical requirements for HIPAA security may be a lot of information for you to take in.

 

Additionally, it can be overwhelming for you to handle its compliance in your dental practice solely.

 

To make it easier, HIPAA compliance is an organization-wide issue. This means all your employees will have to understand and know their role in securing dental information.

 

Alternatively, you can outsource your HIPAA compliance to consultants, web services, and IT contractors.

 

This ensures your dental practice meets the required standards and makes your life easier.

 

However, outsourcing your HIPAA responsibilities doesn’t mean you ignore your legal obligations.

 

Your company should always stay on top of any HIPAA changes in recommendations and adopt advanced practices to improve medical information security.

 

Ultimately, ensure your dental practice upgrades all its old technology for better and efficient systems that contribute to medical information security.

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How Does HIPAA Enforcement Work?

How Does HIPAA Enforcement Work? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

HIPAA enforcement takes place on both the federal government and state government levels.

 

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights receives and investigates complaints, and issues penalties and fines.

 

Enforcement action can be taken with respect to any of the HIPAA Rules. These rules include the HIPAA Privacy Rule, the Security Rule, the Breach Notification Rule, and the HIPAA Omnibus Rule. 

 

When an individual reports a violation, files a complaint or discloses a breach, OCR reviews the complaint, report, or disclosure.

 

OCR may then pursue enforcement in the form of investigations or audits. Audits are randomly conducted. Thus far, HHS has publicly announced, with respect to each audit it has conducted, when the audit was to take place, and what the audit consisted of.  

 

Investigations, in contrast, are made in response to a specific complaint. Upon receiving a complaint, OCR seeks information from the entity against whom the complaint is filed, about the extent of its HIPAA compliance.

 

Investigation sometimes results in the entity that is the subject of the complaint taking voluntary steps to improve its compliance. In addition, after an investigation starts, HIPAA enforcement can take the form of OCR providing technical assistance to an entity to resolve the matter. Technical assistance consists of OCR’s advising the entity as to what is expected of it in terms of HIPAA compliance.

 

Typically, an entity agrees to make specified changes. 

In addition, state attorneys general can enforce HIPAA. The ability to do so was given to states in the 2009 amendment to HIPAA that appears in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. 

 

States were reluctant to take enforcement actions in the initial years after the amendment; however, recently, states have not only engaged in more vigorous HIPAA enforcement activity but have joined together with other states in multistate litigation. 

 

There are significant consequences for breaking the HIPAA laws in new ways as well: The first multistate litigation was brought in December of 2018. Arizona and 15 other states filed suit, asserting claims under HIPAA as well as various applicable state data protection laws.

 

The suit was filed as a result of a data breach in which hackers infiltrated WebChart, and stole the electronically protected health information (ePHI) of approximately 4 million individuals. 

 

As shown above, consequences for breaking the HIPAA law can be severe. Covered entities can address their obligations under HIPAA by working with Compliancy Group.

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Challenges and methods for securing Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS)

Challenges and methods for securing Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Medical data is a valuable commodity for identity theft. Despite HIPAA privacy rules being in effect for more than two decades, millions of health records, including images, have been stored on unsecured servers by healthcare provider officers across the United States. 

 

A ProPublica investigation revealed that 187 servers in the U.S. with medical records such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, for instance, are findable with a simple online search. One imaging system had open internet access to patients’ echocardiograms, which were minimally secured. 

 

While securing Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) can be challenging, in part, because of the need for multiple providers to access the same data, the images stored in PACS are Protected Health Information (PHI) and must be kept private in accordance to HIPAA rules. 

 

To address this issue, in September 2019 the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released new draft guidelines to secure PACS, Special Publication 1800-24C - Securing Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS). 

The Challenges of Securing PACS

Over the past decade, healthcare images have shifted from hard copy to mostly digital. These digital images are easier to share, speeding up the diagnosis time.

 

Of course, the fact that healthcare images can now be uploaded, shared on personal mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and stored digitally, also makes them a target for cybercriminals. 

 

PACS also interact with multiple other systems: electronic health records, regulatory registries hospital information systems, and even government, academic, and commercial archives. This creates plenty of potential security gaps for cybercriminals to lurk and steal this data. 

 

Here are the most common challenges in securing PACS:

  • Monitoring and controlling internal user accounts and identifying outliers in behavior (e.g., large number of downloads in a small period of time)
  • Controlling and monitoring access by external users
  • Enforcing least privilege and separation-of-duties policies for internal and external users
  • Ensuring data integrity of the images
  • Securing and monitoring connections to the system
  • Securing and monitoring connections to and from systems outside of the in-house system
  • Providing security, data protection, and access management without affecting productivity and system performance

 

As you can see, these are common cybersecurity challenges. The draft PACS security guidelines are adapted from the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. While the challenge of securing medical images is real, this is a framework that any HIPAA-covered entity can use to help secure their PACS.

A Security Architecture for PACS

Using commercially available products, NIST created a reference network architecture. It provides an example for healthcare providers to separate their networks into zones to decrease cross-network access and, thus, risk. 

 

The NIST SP 1800-24C guidelines are just that: guidelines. Information technology professionals need to adapt the architecture and framework guidance to their particular organization’s IT stack and security goals. 

 

To mitigate risks, the NIST practice guide’s reference architecture includes technical and process controls to implement. They are:

  • A defense-in-depth solution, including network zoning that allows for more granular control of network traffic flows and limits communications capabilities to the minimum necessary to support business function
  • Access control mechanisms that include multi-factor authentication for care providers, certificate-based authentication for imaging devices and clinical systems, and mechanisms that limit vendor remote support to medical imaging components  
  • A holistic risk management approach that includes medical device asset management, augmenting enterprise security controls and leveraging behavioral analytic tools for near real-time threat and vulnerability management in conjunction with managed security solution providers

 

NIST Cybersecurity Guidance also recommends a thorough cybersecurity risk assessment to identify areas of weakness and to help determine how to optimize your network for cybersecurity.

 

Recommended capabilities for a secure PACS environment include:

  • Role-based access control
  • Authentication
  • Network access control
  • Endpoint protection
  • Network and communication protection
  • Micro-segmentation
  • Behavioral analytics
  • Tools that use cyber threat intelligence
  • Anti-malware
  • Data security
  • Segregation of duties
  • Restoration and recoverability
  • Cloud storage

The Importance of User Training

While not included in this particular NIST publication, it is always good to remember that user training is critical to the success of any cybersecurity initiative. Many Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) images are shared via mobile devices. 

 

Password protections are also important, as is understanding HIPAA compliance involving social media and basic HIPAA security procedures.

 

PACS do enable better patient outcomes, but they are a potential target for cybercriminals. Following the guidance from NIST, healthcare organizations can help ensure the continued privacy of their patients’ protected health information. 

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Secure Mobile Messaging in Healthcare: 4 Recommendations to Remain HIPAA Compliant

Secure Mobile Messaging in Healthcare: 4 Recommendations to Remain HIPAA Compliant | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

A research study, the State of Clinical Communication and Workflow in healthcare organizations, revealed that 51% of IT respondents planned to implement smartphones for clinical communications.

 

This shows that secure mobile messaging is a priority for healthcare providers as they seek to improve patient care.

 

Email alerts that remind patients of an upcoming doctor’s appointment are useful reminders to prevent missed appointments. But the benefits of mobile messaging in healthcare extend far beyond this capability. 

 

Health industry professionals and IT professionals working in healthcare also overwhelmingly believe (90%) that a unified app that integrates communications with clinical workflows will achieve better clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. 

 

Mobile messaging can improve patient care through improved communications as well as allowing a care team to share information about a patient to improve collaboration.

 

But mobile messaging poses cybersecurity and privacy risks if not handled appropriately. One of the main compliance requirements for mobile messaging is HIPAA Privacy and Security compliance and that protected health information (PHI) must be secured. HIPAA compliance is not optional.

Is Text Messaging HIPAA Compliant?

Not always. Here’s why:

  • SMS messaging isn’t secure and the data is vulnerable to unauthorized access in transmission.
  • Messages on a wireless provider’s server aren’t encrypted.
  • Messages can be deleted at any time by either the sender or receiver.
  • Smartphones can be lost or stolen, increasing the risk of exposure of PHI on the device.

You cannot simply use your phone to text a patient a diagnosis or ask a colleague their opinion. 

 

However, the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not prohibit mobile messaging, though neither does HIPAA provide specific recommendations for protecting PHI sent via mobile messaging. 

 

As with any other technology used to store or transmit PHI, the HIPAA Security Rule provides a list of controls that will allow secure mobile messaging when followed: unique user identification, automatic logoff, encryption/decryption, auditing, integrity management, authentication, and transmission security. 

 

HIPAA-covered entities and business associates must apply these rules to be able to use mobile messaging securely. 

 

4 Recommendations for Secure Mobile Messaging in Healthcare

Healthcare providers want to be able to share patient information via mobile devices to improve patient care. How can a HIPAA-covered entity take advantage of mobile messaging and stay within the HIPAA rules? These four recommendations will get you started.

  1. Conduct a risk analysis. Before implementing mobile messaging, assess the level of risk. Will users need more training to use the tools properly? Is the infrastructure robust enough to secure PHI? . 
  2. Factors for a secure texting platform. There are five factors to check for in a secure mobile messaging solution:
    1. Messages are encrypted in transit and at rest.
    2. The platform requires recipient authentication.
    3. Where does the data live? If it’s in a cloud platform, does it have secure hosting to archive and/or download sensitive content?
    4. Are emergency recovery procedures (data backup, disaster recovery, etc.) in place?
    5. If using a third-party provider, will the vendor sign a business associate agreement and commit to implementing administrative, technical and physical safeguards to protect any PHI that the vendor accesses? 
  3. Audit trails and controls. Messages must have an audit trail to track who sent what data and when they sent it. Messages related to a patient should be stored as part of a patient’s health record. Document retention and disposal policies should be enforced as with any other record. 
  4. Policies for phone loss. Whether the smartphone used is personal or provided by the company, policies must be in place to prevent a breach of PHI. This can include the ability to retrieve and/or delete data remotely, requiring two-factor and/or biometric authentication to access the device, and extensive security training for users.

Mobile Messaging Can Be HIPAA Compliant

Solutions for secure, HIPAA-compliant mobile messaging exist and can be found on the Internet. Regardless of whether you create your own system or use an existing one, your organization is responsible for your patients’ PHI. 

 

Conduct reasonable due diligence, follow these four recommendations, and continually evaluate your cybersecurity defenses and your organization will reap the benefits of mobile messaging.

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What to Include in Your Incident Response Plan

What to Include in Your Incident Response Plan | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Cybersecurity data breaches have almost become a way of life. We hear about businesses impacted by security incidents and data breaches every day. 

 

As the adage goes, it’s not “IF”, but rather “WHEN” a security incident will take place at your business. 

 

It is therefore a best practice for every business to create an incident response plan. An incident response plan delivers two cybersecurity benefits to your business:

 

  1. Systematic response to incidents which helps to minimize information loss or theft and service disruption.
  2. Use of the information gained from an incident to help prevent future threats by strengthening system protections and to be better prepared for handling future incidents.

 

A breach of your information is always stressful. Don’t compound that stress by not having a plan to address a successful cyberattack. 

 

Before creating an incident response plan, you must create an incident response policy.

 

Create an Incident Response Policy

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends in its Computer Security Incident Handling Guide that an organization should create a policy before building an incident response program.

This policy:

  • Defines which events will be considered incidents
  • Establishes the structure for incident response
  • Defines roles and responsibilities
  • Lists the requirements for reporting incidents

Develop your policy to include all applicable regulations and laws under which your business operates. Compliance requirements such as those associated with HIPAA and HITECH, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) will drive your policy requirements. 

The 4 Phases of the NIST Incident Response Lifecycle

Once the policy has been created, NIST outlines four broad phases an incident response plan should include.

NIST identifies four phases in an incident response lifecycle:

  1. Preparation
  2. Detection and Analysis
  3. Containment, Eradication, and Recovery
  4. Post-Event Activity

 

Each of the four phases includes a number of actions. Here’s an outline of what you can include in your organization’s incident response plan.

Preparation and Prevention

“Prevention” in the context of incident response is essentially your information security strategy and the software tools used to implement your strategy. It is your layered defense against cybercriminals -- firewalls, encryption, antivirus software, data backup, user training, etc. 

 

Part of being prepared is having a complete list of your information security tools (including any portions of your IT infrastructure managed by a third-party managed service provider). 

 

Effective response is based on communication. Smartphones are an excellent way to communicate with and coordinate team members while responding to an incident.

 

It may be a good idea to have some of the information below as hard copy or on devices not connected to an organization’s network (it will be difficult to coordinate a response if, for example, you are victimized by a ransomware attack and cannot access your plan):

  • Contact information for primary and backup contacts within your organization plus relevant law enforcement and regulatory agencies that may need to be alerted
  • An incident reporting mechanism so users can report suspected incidents (phone numbers, email, online forms, or secure messaging systems)
  • Issue tracking system
  • Space to respond. Identify a permanent “war room” or temporary location where team members can centralize their response to the incident
  • Secure storage facility to keep evidence if needed

Detection and Analysis

Attacks can come from anywhere and take many forms - a denial of service attack, ransomware, email phishing, lost or stolen equipment (such as a laptop, smartphone, or authentication token), etc.

 

Once an incident is positively identified, follow defined processes to document the response (which can be helpful in showing a good faith effort to limit the impact of the breach on customer data should you end up in litigation or are investigated as the result of a breach).

 

Identify your affected networks, systems, and/or applications and determine the scope of the incident. From there, the response team can prioritize next steps from containment to further analysis of the incident. Recommendations for making analysis more effective include:

 

  • Profile networks and systems so changes are more readily detectable
  • Understand normal behavior so abnormal behavior is more easily spotted
  • Create a log retention policy
  • Perform event correlation
  • Keep all host clocks synchronized
  • Filter data to investigate the most suspicious data first
  • Run packet sniffers to collect additional data

 

These techniques should be used in conjunction with one another. Relying on a single method will be ineffective.

 

Document incidents as they are found. A logbook is one way to do so as are laptops, audio recordings, or a digital camera. 

 

Those affected by the incident need to be notified as well. For an incident that affects customers, a message on your website, email notification, or other communication will be needed. 

 

Often, breach notification procedures are driven by laws applicable to your industry, your state or your country, or a combination of these.

Containment, Eradication, and Recovery

Develop containment strategies for different incident types as containment for malware entering your network from an email will be different than for a network-based denial-of-service attack.

 

Document your strategies for incident containment so you can decide the appropriate strategy for the incident (e.g., shut down a system, disconnect it from the network, disable certain functions).

Once an incident is contained and all affected elements of the IT infrastructure have been identified the eradication and recovery process begins.

 

For larger systems, this could take months to move from high-priority to lower priority systems. Systems may be able to be restored from backup or may need to be rebuilt from scratch. As eradication and recovery proceed, steps can also be taken to tighten security measures. 

Post-Event Activity

Information security is an ongoing, iterative process. A key part of any incident response should be to learn from it:

  • Were the procedures followed? Were they effective?
  • Did we do anything that slowed the recovery process?
  • What could we have done differently?
  • Are there steps we can take to prevent a similar attack?
  • Were there indicators of the attack that we can use to prevent/detect a similar incident?
  • Do we need more resources to detect, analyze, and mitigate future events?

Apply what you learn to improve your cybersecurity defenses and response to the next incident.

Testing, Testing

Test your plan once per year. EIther working with an independent third-party or internally, create a scenario and walk your team through it.

 

This not only allows team members to understand their roles, but will also help you identify gaps or weaknesses in your plan. 

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Telehealth, Video Tech Tools and HIPAA Compliance

Telehealth, Video Tech Tools and HIPAA Compliance | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Telemedicine has been around for years, but as a healthcare service it has been underutilized. Today, virtual visits for medical care have skyrocketed because of the COVID-19 outbreak and other factors.

 

Telehealth is experiencing a revolutionary moment like never before. By the end of 2020, virtual medical care usage is estimated to reach upwards of 1 billion interactions, according to analysts at Forrester Research. 

 

In addition, some restrictions that were barriers to entry before have been lifted in response to the public health pandemic. And in March 2020, the Trump Administration expanded Medicare's coverage allowing beneficiaries to receive more extensive care through telehealth visits. These are done using video and audio applications. 

 

With the advent of stay-at-home orders and social distancing, technology is healthcare's solution for delivering continuous patient care. Tech tools' enable widespread access, bringing an unprecedented reach to a larger patient population.

 

For medical practitioners, the shift of using video platforms to communicate can come with risk and HIPAA compliance concerns. OCR asks that telehealth sessions be conducted in a private environment.  Sometimes this could be achieved with a simple task such as closing an office door or lowering one's voice.  

 

The Office for Civil Rights has issued an announcement, guiding on which audio and video communication platforms are acceptable and not acceptable for patient interactions during the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

As stated officially by OCR on its website:

"OCR will exercise its enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for noncompliance with the regulatory requirements under the HIPAA Rules against covered health care providers in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency."

In this blog post, we will highlight some of the video communication platforms that follow OCR's public health emergency guidance. Of course, keep in mind that compliance regulations might change in upcoming months.

Telehealth video calling platforms to use amid the pandemic

Under OCR's notice, covered healthcare providers can use certain platforms for non-public facing video communications with patients, as these platforms are HIPAA compliant and will enter into Business Associate Agreements (BAAs).

Some of these are:

  • Skype for Business / Microsoft Teams
  • Updox
  • VSee
  • Zoom for Healthcare
  • Doxy.me
  • Google G Suite Hangouts Meet
  • Cisco Webex Meetings / Webex Teams
  • Amazon Chime
  • GoToMeeting
  • Spruce Health Care Messenger

Zoom is on this list, but with the recent rise in security attacks from threat actors joining Zoom meetings uninvited, we have seen advice from various  entities to use a different video platform when communicating with patients, until all security and privacy issues with Zoom are fixed. No one wants to deal with Zoom-bombing during an important medical visit. 

It's important to note that these technological tools are third-party providers and they may pose privacy risks. However, using FaceTime, for instance, during the pandemic is not necessarily a compliance violation, depending on a case by case basis. 

What if patient does not have access to video telehealth formats

If the telehealth session is being conducted in good faith during this public health emergency, then OCR permits the use of audio methods like wireless phone, landline phones to conduct the session. If using email or texting, they ask the covered entity to try and utilize safeguards whenever possible, such as secure email or secure texting.  

Avoid using TikTok for telehealth sessions

On the other hand, OCR stated the following public-facing applications are not to be used when providing telehealth services, even during the public health crisis. OCR is not the sole government agency warning about TikTok's security implications. The wildly popular app has come under fire for underage privacy and international security concerns by U.S. lawmakers and security professionals. 

 

Using public-facing communications could be an evidence of bad faith on the part of the provider, which could make the provider liable for OCR enforcement actions. 

Avoid using these platforms for telehealth:

  • Facebook Live
  • Twitch
  • TikTok

Not only that, the guideline explains to avoid using any public-facing technology, meaning the session can be seen by a group. 

 

For privacy protections and peace of mind, OCR advises to turn to HIPAA compliant technology platforms. There are vendors available, who will enter into a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement with a covered entity.

 

Check with the vendor to see if that's the case. When in doubt, reach out to third-party HIPAA experts to ensure your following compliance regulations as you transition to doing telehealth. 

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Breach Risk Analysis: A four-step plan

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Got breached? Implement a four-step plan

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

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

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

Let's stay a closer look at each step. 

Determine the type of data that was stolen

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Determining if the person or organization acquired or viewed the data 

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

 

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

 

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

Document mitigating actions made

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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HIPAA Workers Compensation Disclosures

HIPAA Workers Compensation Disclosures | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
HIPAA Workers Compensation Disclosures

The HIPAA Privacy Rule dictates how a healthcare provider may share protected information, or PHI in the workers compensation context.

 

PHI disclosures to the employer and the workers compensation board must be HIPAA compliant. HIPAA workers compensation requirements are discussed below.

What is Workers Compensation?

Many employers are required, under state law, to purchase and maintain a workers compensation insurance policy (or to self-insure). When an employee sustains an injury or illness arising out of and in the scope of his or her employment, the employee may file a claim for benefits under that policy.

 

State workers compensation laws are a specific kind of “no-fault” law. That is, an employee who sustains an injury or illness is generally entitled to benefits even if the employee’s injuries were brought about by his or her own negligence. Whether an employee is or is not entitled to benefits is generally not determined by whose “fault” the injury was.

 

To demonstrate entitlement to benefits and reimbursement for healthcare provider treatment costs, employees are required, through their providers, to submit medical information to their employers, and to the state workers’ compensation board. 

What Must a Covered Entity Do for HIPAA Workers Compensation Disclosure Requirements?

The HIPAA Privacy Rule allows covered entities to disclose protected health information to workers’ compensation insurers, state administrators, employers, and other persons or entities involved in workers’ compensation systems, without the individual’s authorization, when:

  • The PHI disclosure is authorized by, and is necessary to comply with:
    • State workers compensation laws; or
    • Similar “no-fault” programs established by law that provide benefits for job-related injuries or illness.
    • The PHI disclosure is required for purposes of obtaining payment for healthcare provided to the injured or ill worker.

In both instances, the “minimum necessary standard” applies. The PHI disclosure, under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, must be reasonably limited to the minimum information necessary to accomplish the HIPAA workers compensation purpose.

 

This means that the medical information that is disclosed must be relevant to the specific injury. Medical information having no relationship to the injury or to payment should not be disclosed.

What is HIPAA Compliant Reasonable Reliance?

When PHI is requested by a state workers’ compensation or other public official, the covered entity may reasonably rely on the state official’s representation that the requested PHI is the minimum necessary for the specific workers’ compensation purpose. 

 

In such circumstances, the covered entity is not required to make a minimum necessary determination when disclosing protected health information as required by state law. The provider will generally be deemed HIPAA compliant under such circumstances.

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What You Need to Know About Secure Mobile Messaging in Healthcare

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

Digital Health Communication and Messaging

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

 

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

 

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

HIPAA

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

 

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

Safeguarding Medical Information

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage

HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

HIPAA compliant cloud storage is contingent on several aspects. To use a cloud storage and be HIPAA compliant, it is important to ensure that the cloud service provider

 

(CSP) has sufficient safeguards to secure the protected health information (PHI) that is transmitted, stored, or maintained on behalf of their covered entity (CE) client. Additionally, they must be willing to sign a HIPAA business associate agreement (BAA).

Security Measures for HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage

Cloud service providers must have certain measures in place to secure PHI and track access to PHI. These include the following:

  • Access controls: each person with the ability to access data stored by the CSP must have unique login credentials. The HIPAA minimum necessary standard requires access to PHI to be limited, so that it is only accessed for a specific purpose. Utilizing unique logins allows organizations to designate different levels of access to PHI based on an employee’s job function. 

 

  • Audit logs: unique login credentials also allows audit logs to be created. Audit logs establish normal access patterns for each employee (what information they access, how frequently they access it, and for how long). Being aware of each employee’s access patterns is the key to detecting insider breaches.

 

  • Encryption: HIPAA compliant cloud storage platforms should utilize end-to-end encryption (E2EE). E2EE is a means of protecting sensitive data by converting data into code that can only be read with a decryption key. E2EE is the best way to prevent unauthorized access to PHI.

 

  • Data backup:HIPAA requires healthcare organizations, and their business associates, to backup patient data. Data backup ensures that organizations that experience a breach, or natural disaster, are able to quickly restore data.
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Healthcare Organizations Mature their Cybersecurity Practices

Healthcare Organizations Mature their Cybersecurity Practices | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Cyberattacks in the healthcare industry show no signs of abating. In 2018, digital criminals breached 15 million healthcare records. Alarmingly, in the first half of 2019 alone, 32 million healthcare records were compromised as a result of multiple security incidents.

 

Among those was the American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA) breach, an event which affected 24 million patient records when an unauthorized user accessed systems that contained sensitive information.

 

The breach ultimately led AMCA to file for bankruptcy, and it affected over 20 AMCA customers like Quest and LabCorp.

 

Despite the growth in cyberattacks in the healthcare industry, healthcare organizations continue to underinvest in cybersecurity. Compared to other industries like the financial industry, which invests 15% of revenue on cybersecurity initiatives, the healthcare industry invests only 4-7% of revenue.

 

Healthcare organizations under-invest in cybersecurity, even though the industry incurs the highest per capita cost of a breach. According to the IBM 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average cost per breached record in healthcare is $429.

 

Although the financial industry has the second-highest average cost per breached record at $210 per breached record, healthcare incurs more than double the cost than finance.

 

To mitigate breaches to confidential patient information, HIPAA was instituted to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of protected health information, so it came with attendant fines for non-compliance.

 

To improve their cybersecurity posture and avoid fines, many healthcare organizations have taken steps to ensure that they comply with HIPAA and that they pass the HIPAA audits.

 

Recognizing the need to improve their security posture, many mature healthcare organizations have adopted industry-standard frameworks like NIST and CIS. Also, many healthcare organizations recognize their need to achieve compliance with other regulatory standards like PCI and SOX.

 

Yet the spate of breaches in healthcare demonstrates that achieving compliance does not guarantee a secure environment, especially when healthcare organizations focus on passing audits at a point in time.

 

While healthcare organizations marshal resources to ensure they pass audits, the organization returns to business as usual, leading to a less secure posture over time.

 

As a result, mere compliance with security standards has had a limited impact on the security posture of healthcare organizations.

 

Achieving and maintaining compliance with these various, complex, ever-changing standards and regulations can be burdensome for healthcare organizations.

 

This challenge is only exacerbated by the technical skills gap. Organizations, especially healthcare organizations, continue to be challenged with hiring, retaining and training cybersecurity professionals. Recent statistics show that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions globally by 2021.

 

The HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) was introduced to ameliorate the challenges healthcare organizations face in trying to achieve compliance with the various, complex and evolving standards and frameworks.

 

HITRUST CSF incorporates existing standards and regulatory policies like HIPAA, PCI, NIST, ISO into an overarching comprehensive framework that remains sufficiently prescriptive in how control requirements can be scaled and tailored for healthcare organizations of varying types and sizes.

 

However, attempting to attest to the HITRUST CSF using manual methods negates the benefits of the HITRUST CSF, as this greatly increases the chances of error.

 

In addition to the extra time and effort that is required to track compliance manually, which is only compounded around audit time, information that is manually collated into a report is hard for an auditor to verify.

 

As a result, Tripwire partnered with HITRUST to help healthcare organizations automate HITRUST CSF compliance. Tripwire is one of only two cybersecurity providers to have partnered with HITRUST for the automated reinforcement of CSF compliance.

 

Tripwire has the industry’s largest platform and policy coverage, including legacy systems.

 

It has a proven track record of helping organizations achieve and maintain compliance with HIPAA, PCI and SOX as well as adhere to security frameworks like NIST and CIS.

 

Now, Tripwire can help organizations automatically achieve and maintain compliance with HITRUST CSF as well as prove compliance with out-of-box, HITRUST-certified reports. This helps them:

  • Quickly achieve and maintain compliance, including audit-ready proof of compliance
  • Accurately align with the HITRUST CSF with Tripwire’s HITRUST-certified mapping
  • Keep up with new HITRUST CSF versions while strengthening your cybersecurity posture
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What is a HIPAA Limited Data Set?

What is a HIPAA Limited Data Set? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
What is a HIPAA Limited Data Set?

Under HIPAA, a limited data set is protected health information (PHI) that excludes certain direct identifiers of an individual, or certain direct identifiers of relatives, employers, or household members of the individual. 

What is a Direct Identifier?

Under HIPAA, a direct identifier is Information that relates specifically to an individual. HIPAA designates the following information as direct identifiers:

  • Names
  • Postal address information, other than town or city, State, and zip code
  • Telephone numbers
  • Fax numbers
  • Electronic mail addresses
  • Social Security numbers
  • Medical record numbers
  • Health-plan beneficiary numbers
  • Account numbers
  • Certificate and license numbers
  • Vehicle identifiers and serial numbers, including license plate numbers
  • Device identifiers and serial numbers
  • Web Universal Resource Locators (URLs)
  • Internet Protocol (IP) address numbers
  • Biometric identifiers (including fingerprints and voice prints)
  • Full-face photographic images and any comparable images

What is the Relationship Between Direct Identifiers and a Limited Data Set?

A “limited data set” is information from which the above direct identifiers have been removed. All of the above-listed identifiers must be removed in order for health information to be a limited data set.

Is a Limited Data Set Still Considered Protected Health Information?

Yes.  A limited data set is still protected health information or “PHI” under HIPAA (or electronic protected health information, if in electronic form).

For patient data to lose its status as PHI, that information must be de-identified. De-identified patient data is health information from a medical record that has been stripped of all “direct identifiers”—that is, all information that can be used to identify the patient from whose medical record the health information was derived, not just the direct identifiers listed above.

Therefore, since a limited data set is PHI, is still subject to the use and disclosure requirements and restrictions of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. 

What is the Significance of Information Comprising a Limited Data Set?

Disclosures of a “limited data set” are not subject to the HIPAA accounting requirements.

 

HIPAA accounting requirements mandate that a patient or research subject has the right to request a written record (an accounting) when a covered entity has made certain disclosures of that person’s protected health information (“PHI”).  The accounting must include all covered disclosures in the six years prior to the date of the person’s request.

 

A covered entity may also disclose a LDS for public health purposes, including those that are emergency preparedness activities. The covered entity must have a data use agreement in order to disclose the limited data set (LDS).

 
 
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Telemedicine Platforms Attracting Big-time Investments

Telemedicine Platforms Attracting Big-time Investments | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

We’ve seen enormous changes in the healthcare industry in recent years, mostly relating to the more efficient storage and usage of patient data through blockchain technology and the digitisation of patient files.

 

In the past two decades, the growing penetration of technology in the industry has yielded new medical devices, automated treatments, and improved diagnostic processes, giving doctors, scientists and patients renewed hope for the treatment of diseases some of which, until now, have been largely untreatable.

 

Blockchain has enabled the seamless global exchange of patient information in real time with reduced transaction costs and fewer administrative delays, enabling much faster, more secure and more efficient exchanges of health records between medical personnel.

 

But technology isn’t only transforming the way patient information is handled; it is also revolutionising the way patients receive medical care.

 

Telemedicine -- the use of information technology to remotely diagnose, treat, or continuously monitor patients - has been hailed the ‘next disruptor’ of the healthcare industry.

 

In other words, the industry has at last recognised that waiting for hours at a doctor's office to ask a simple question or get a prescription can in some cases be so burdensome and frustrating that it can prevent patients from seeking medical help.

 

About time, too. If every other aspect of our lives has been digitised -- from job hunting, to online dating, to doing the groceries -- why haven’t we yet digitised the process of receiving medical care?

 

Often, a doctor’s check-up is so simple that all that is required is a quick verbal check of symptoms and a quick glance into the patient’s eyes.

 

If this could be done remotely through video technology in less than five minutes, it benefits both the physician -- who can in turn help more patients on average -- and the patient, who needn’t risk becoming even more sick by leaving home and sitting in a crowded waiting room with other ill people.

 

By empowering caregivers to remotely interact with their patients, telemedicine has the power to completely transform health care delivery, by making it far more affordable and available.

 

In fact, it has already begun to do this: in 2018, over 7 million patients used some sort of a telemedicine service in the U.S., and that number is only expected to rise over the next few years. Over half of America’s hospitals already use some sort of telemedicine, and there are more than 200 telemedicine networks in the US alone. Inevitably, with anticipated growth comes unprecedented industry investment - and the telemedicine industry is no exception.

 

There have been huge investments in the global telemedicine market in recent years, so much so that it is anticipated to grow from its current $38.3 billion valuation to an impressive $130.5 billion by 2025.

 

This encompasses value derived not only from the services provided through telemedicine but the devices and platforms that support service delivery. 

 

As healthcare companies look for ways to reduce costs and improve patient-centered care, more and more providers -- as well as investors -- are choosing to invest in shares in telehealth.

 

According to recent studies, 56 percent of healthcare executives say they have already integrated telemedicine - and more specifically, software as a service (SaaS) business models - into organisation, while another 24 percent are currently looking to invest in telemedicine solutions.

 

The remaining 20 percent are just beginning to become familiar with the opportunities presented by telehealth and telemedicine.

 

One particular platform - Colorado-based CirrusMD, which gives patients access to a board-certified physician in less than a minute on the app or on the web - has seen the largest investment to date in the telemedicine world, with a further US$15 million in funding having just been granted for the expansion of its telemedicine portfolio.

 

The money was raised through a series B funding round led by Drive Capital, bringing its total venture capital raised to $26 million altogether.

 

Founded in 2012 by an emergency physician, the platform is available across 50 states and differs from other telemedicine platforms in that members don’t pay upfront to physicians. Instead, it teams up with integrated delivery networks who pay doctors by the hour to deliver services via its platform.

 

CirrusMD is far from alone in the telemedicine sphere, mind you. It vies for the attention of patients alongside competitors Heal, Pager, Kry, HealthTap, Snap MD, Mfine, Pager, K Health, and Doctor on Demand, the latter of which just pulled in $50 million to continue expansion of its virtual doctor platform.

 

Maven - the first telemedicine platform made specifically for women - just launched with $2.2 million in seed funding, and Spruce just raised a further $15 million for its new platform which caters to people with dermatology conditions.

 

With 25 percent of consumers admitting they would willingly switch their primary care provider for one that offers more telehealth services, and with 75 percent of people saying they would be happy to attend a doctor’s appointment remotely, it's extremely likely that the telehealth and telemedicine industry will grow at an exponential rate in the next few years, paving the way for huge opportunities for those willing to invest in the digital infrastructure that supports it.

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How Does a Cloud Phone System Work?

How Does a Cloud Phone System Work? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

What Is a Cloud-Based Phone System?

A cloud-based system is a phone system that uses your internet connection instead of traditional phone wires or cellular services.

How Is a Cloud Phone System Different From Traditional Phone Systems?

Traditional business phone systems consist of three components. The telephones, the PBX software and hardware that controls calls and handles other features like voicemail, and a physical connection to the telephone network through PRI lines.

 

That’s a lot of software and hardware for a business to pay for, install, and maintain.

 

Cloud phone systems (also called VoIP) make all of that unnecessary. Your provider takes care of the software and hardware. All you need is a connection to the internet and an endpoint which can be a traditional desk phone, software in your browser, or an app on your mobile phone.

 

You get out of the business of running a phone system, but get to enjoy all of the features of an enterprise-class solution. How cool is that?

What Is the Call Quality Like?

Call quality was a big problem in the early days of VoIP, but now that high-speed broadband connections are ubiquitous, call quality is usually exactly the same as a traditional land-line.

 

Of course, you need to test any solution you consider to make sure it plays well with your broadband and devices. Look for a solution that doesn’t lock you into a long-term contract.

What About My Cell Phone?

Your cloud phone service should be as portable as the internet connection you use.

 

Some providers even offer an app to make using your cell phone easier. This makes it easy for your employees to answer work calls on their cell phones without anyone knowing the difference.

Can a Cloud System Grow As My Business Grows?

Absolutely. Many businesses start small, with a few employees or even just one owner. They then grow to employee hundreds or thousands.

 

With a traditional system, you would need the help of a full IT team to add additional lines or extensions. You would need to rewire the copper wires on-site if you want to add any upgrades.

 

With a cloud-based system, an administrator just needs to use the admin panel. From there, he or she can add anything they’d like. No on-site maintenance needed.

 

Not to mention the fact that it can make a smaller business look even larger and more professional.

How Secure Is It?

There are always security risks in a phone system. With a cloud system, there are far more security measures.

 

Data encryption, network security, HIPAA-compliance measures, secure voice, and video, and more all work together to make sure your calls are safe.

No Maintenance, Really?

With a cloud-based system, you don’t have to worry about any maintenance. Any time there is an update (bug fixes, net features), they are added to the software.

 

Then, as those updates are released, your business phones will automatically update. You can focus on the parts of your business that really matter, not on your phone upgrades.

How Much Will a Cloud-Based System Cost?

A cloud-based system is surprisingly affordable. The biggest cost to think about is the internet connection. But, if you already have that, then you only need to think about the setup and the monthly bill.

 

Prices vary based on features, so it’s smart to shop around. One word of caution, however. Cheaper doesn’t always mean better. Make sure you add features, quality, flexibility, and support into the equation during your evaluation.

 

You can absolutely find an affordable solution that will meet your needs.

 

When you do the math, a full year of a cloud system will cost far less than half the prices of a typical system.

 

How Difficult Is the Setup?

Every solution is different, so keep setup in mind when you look at your options. With Phone.com, you simply fill in a few details about your needs and business, log into the control panel, add the ap to your mobile phone and begin making calls right away.

Choosing the Right System

Depending on your business size, needs, and budget, there are several provider options.

 

Phone.com is a solid option for almost any business size looking to get the right phone system installed.

 

In addition to all the usual perks that come from a cloud-based phone system, phone.com users also get extra features like call blocking, call screening, hold music and more.

 

Thanks to these tools callers believe they are dialing into a large and professional organization (even if you’re just getting started).

Cloud-Based Systems Are The New Age Phones

Businesses are walking away from traditional phone systems and it’s easy to see why. A cloud phone system offers a maintenance-free solution to voice service worries.

 

Everything is hosted off-site, on secure networks, and to top it off, it’s easy on your pockets.

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Bedside Manners Via Telehealth – Understanding How Your Screenside Manners Matter

Bedside Manners Via Telehealth – Understanding How Your Screenside Manners Matter | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Using telehealth technology still requires good bedside manners - just call it your screen side or website manners. So what do providers need to know that is different between an in-person encounter compared to a telehealth encounter? 

 

The space involved with making that first impression via telehealth is significantly smaller than meeting in-person in a clinical setting.  Besides being two-dimensional, your space is limited to the size and quality of the monitor projecting your image on the other end of the connection. 

 

You only get one chance to make a first impression – so make it good.

 

Important factors to consider to help develop and maintain a positive patient-provider relationship:

 

Prior to encounter – being prepared is always the best practice.

  • Equipment – understand how to use and test; know who to contact to troubleshoot; ensure good placement of the camera, microphone, and speakers
  • Physical space – clear of distractions; good lighting; private and secure (HIPAA)
  • Provider Appearance – professional; solid, non-distracting (preferably light blue) colors
  • Preparation – review patient history chart/file

 

During the encounter – a little extra explanation can go a long way to foster relationships.

 

  • Confirm connection quality (hear/see) and security of space (HIPAA)
  • Introduce self (and others), organization/location
  • Have patient introduce self and any others in the room
  • Explain the process of taking notes, and only briefly looking away from the camera as necessary, otherwise maintain eye contact
  • Periodically ask the patient if he/she has any questions or anything to say
  • Reiterate any instructions or follow-up procedures for a patient prior to disconnecting

 

Developing your screen-side manners in today’s telehealth world is just as essential as developing good bedside manners. 

 

Patients still need to feel they are being heard and understood by their provider whether in-person or via video connection. The tasks that happen during an in-person visit, (e.g., jotting down notes, or looking at an image), are seen directly by the patient.

 

These same actions may not be as visible via video, and require some explanation to keep the patient engaged. The patient still needs your full attention.

 

Empathy is no less important in telemedicine. Being prepared, clearly communicating, and focusing on your patient will help foster a positive patient-provider relationship.

 

 You can still make meaningful eye contact via telehealth, but the trick is looking directly at the actual camera, and not the projected image of the patient on your screen.

 

Body language can speak louder than words, but telehealth creates a situation where not all body language is actually visible. 

 

While a thoughtful hand to the chin while thinking maybe commonplace, on video the same action might communicate disinterest. 

 

Controlling reactionary movements is vital for telehealth. While standing bedside, a simple action like shifting weight from one leg to another has minimal visual impact compared to being on video and then seeming to shift out of the view of the camera.

 

Similar to developing a good bedside manner, a good screen-side manner takes practice.  Telehealth is unique in that you can record yourself and review the video before ever connecting with a patient.

 

By examining your recording, you can get a better understanding of the patient’s perspective of the telehealth connection. This process allows you to make adjustments that might not happen otherwise, creating the best patient encounter possible.

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Top 10 Applications of Computer Telephony Integration

Top 10 Applications of Computer Telephony Integration | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

There are countless of CTI (computer telephony integration) applications that make implementing the technology one of the best things you can do for your business.

 

1. Pop-up Screen/ Screen Popping


CTI integration allows you to implement a pop-up screen interface for your agents. Through this, you get a feel of the immense possibilities when communication integrates with information.

 

The screen popping CTI application opens up a dashboard whenever your agent interacts with a caller. This shows relevant information about the caller, as you’ve configured it in the system and depending on the applications and software you’ve integrated with your CTI.

 

You can display and log call origin, IVR selection, authentication status, as well as the caller’s issues, purchase history and support history, among other data.

 

2. Speed Dialing


CTI’s speed dialing system is perfect when your team has to meet outbound call objectives.

 

Speed dialers can be configured to continuously make calls, bypassing wrong numbers and busy signals. Agents are patched in only when a person answers the other end of the line.

 

This often comes with a report on call volume, wait times and other call metrics. Increase the productivity of your sales team through CTI’s speed dialing.

 

3. Phone Flexibility/ Phone Control


How you make yourself accessible to your clients, prospects, and the team is flexible through CTI’s phone control or phone flexibility application.

 

You can easily configure the system to “find you” when you’re not logged into the system. Use your mobile devices or laptop to connect.

 

This can set you and your team apart from the competition. Accessibility can be your edge when it comes to sealing deals and starting co-beneficial business relationships.

 

4. Call Routing


CTI’s intelligent call routing lets you become more responsive to your callers. Route calls according to their IVR selection, demographics, call history, agent specialization, and availability, among other factors.

 

This can mean faster call processing, happier (or less frustrated) callers, and more efficient call agents.

 

5. Call Transfers


Call transfers are also better implemented through CTI. This isn’t just about transferring calls from person to person.

 

CTI’s call transfer application allows for seamless agent transitions, wherein data about the caller is transferred too.

 

This unburdens the caller from having to repeat their information. It cuts call processing time, which is especially important in compound support calls.

 

6. IP Telephony and Conferencing


Collaboration has improved by leaps and bounds because of IP telephony, particularly through its low-cost IP-based broadband multimedia telecommunications.

 

A direct result of this is the more rampant use of conferencing applications.

 

In the past, sales presentations had to be done in person. Inside salespeople, then, were not as effective as those in the field.

 

Today, the location has become irrelevant. IP telephony and conferencing applications bridge the gap – connecting agents with prospects and customers as if they’re meeting face-to-face.

 

How effective your team is in utilizing this application depends on their skills, and the available sales information and supporting tools.

 

The technology is already there – fully developed – for you to integrate and optimize your sales processes.

 

Other IP telephony and conferencing applications include team collaboration, multi-location meetings, and remote training sessions.

 

7. IVR (Interactive Voice Response)


Your IVR application is perhaps your first-line interaction with your audience. It is your first try at making a good impression. Configure your CTI’s IVR application correctly and optimally, and you get efficient, personalized and data-driven interactions – not to mention, happier customers and prospects.

 

Your IVR application uses keypad and voice DTMF tones to communicate with your servers. Through IVR selections, callers can reach specific persons or departments.

 

They can also do basic account processes, such as status inquiries and password updates, among other tasks.

 

An optimally configured IVR can cut down call processing time, reduce call traffic and make a good first impression.

 

8. Advanced Call Reporting Functions


One of the best things about CTI is that you can put together data into reports that help you see the big picture. Analyze the many aspects of your business, such as call traffic, inbound and outbound sales calls, and support requests.

 

Through CTI’s advanced call reporting functions, you can parse through historical data to gain insight on how effective your team or call agents are.

 

See where there are support gaps and do something about it. You can also assess real-time data when you want to zoom in on your agent’s interpersonal and problem-solving skills.

 

9. Voice Recording Integration


Voice recording integration plays an important role in contact centers where the quality and integrity of interactions are crucial. Voice recording applications allow you to record and archive voice calls in order to improve your team’s effectiveness, reduce liabilities and comply with industry standards (such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard/ PCI DSS).

 

Record calls and accesses these later on for future assessment. Or, you can also conduct real-time monitoring across mixed telephony environments.

 

Through Voice Recording Integration, you don’t just have textual data as the basis for agent training, reporting and assessment.

 

You also have voice data that protect you from liabilities and support the initiatives and changes you implement for your operations.

 

10. Call Center Functions


Because the development of CTI into what it is now was partly in response to the needs of the call center industry, it’s not a big surprise that call center functions are some of CTI’s top applications.

 

Automatic caller authentication, whisper coaching, call barging and warm transfer (among so many more call center functions) are key functions that drive the adoption of CTI technology.

 
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Telemedicine and HIPAA 

Telemedicine and HIPAA  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The digital age has presented numerous benefits for a variety of economic sectors with the health industry among the biggest winners.

 

From faster communication between patients and health professionals to better service delivery, health organizations have seen improvements in a variety of daily operations.

 

Sadly, the digital age is a double-edged sword, and as more health organizations use the latest technology, there is the looming threat of poor data security.

 

Threats such as the WannaCry ransomware attacks, which have wreaked havoc on the economy to date, are a constant reminder that data security should be a priority for organizations looking to leverage advancements in technology.

 

For instance, while telemedicine promises improved service delivery, it introduces a security complexity.

 

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations have been a cornerstone for setting and raising the security standards in healthcare, and telemedicine might actually make it easier for health organizations to remain compliant.

 

At the same time, a lot has to be done to improve the security loopholes presented by such technologies.

 

Here are how HIPAA and Telemedicine fit with each other and the things that need to be done for better data security.

The Constant Threat Of A Data Breach

Data collected by health organizations can be a gold mine for most threat actors. Some of the Protected Health Information (PHI) data include personal addresses, names, medical history, identification numbers, and even credit card numbers.

 

In the wrong hands, these data can be used for identity theft, for buying medical supplies fraudulently, or even holding health data at ransom as in the case of WannaCry attacks.

 

The sad truth is that ePHI will be at the disposal of threat actors unless the right security controls are put into place.

 

First, unless internal organization systems are strong enough, it can be easy for hackers to gain access to networks or even user accounts. In some cases, they may only need to access a low-level user account before escalating their privileges.

 

Second, when it comes to third party business stakeholders, failing to pick security-concerned partners will easily lead to data breaches.

 

Lastly, insider threats continue to be a risk. If access control isn’t a staple of a health organization’s security system, it can be easy for a disgruntled employee to offer this data out to threat actors. All these are concerns that can be handled by HIPAA compliance, and embracing telemedicine with HIPAA compliance at the back of your mind is a step in the right direction.

How Telemedicine Has Revolutionized The Health Sector

In a nutshell, telemedicine has made the transfer of medical data at a distant quite easy. Diagnoses, medical history, lab tests, and prescriptions can be transferred more easily and cheaper than normal. It also saves the costs of having to transfer patients from their homes to hospitals for diagnoses that could easily be done via video calls.

The HIPAA Rules That Affect Telemedicine

The HIPAA guidelines cover more than the patients and doctors communicating ePHI at a distance. It deals with the communications channels and any third party involved in the communication process. Ideally, for telemedicine to be compliant with HIPAA, the parties involved need to comply with these security rules:

 

  • Ensure that only the authorized parties gain access to ePHI
  • The channels of communication used to communicate ePHI at a distance ought to be secure enough to the standards of HIPAA.
  • There needs to be a system in place for monitoring the different communications containing ePHI to prevent the chances of accidental or malicious data breaches.

 

As long as physicians have effective safeguards in place for addressing access control, the first bullet point should be easy to comply with.

 

As for the second point, insecure channels such as email, Skype, and SMS are eliminated from ever being used. Lastly, the onus is upon those in charge of the ePHI technology to ensure that there are systems in place that can help monitor communication and facilitate the deletion of unused data if the need arises.

 

Both of the last points also look to address issues relating to where ePHI is stored.

Why Conventional Communication Channels Might Not Suffice

If the ePHI created by a physician (covered entity) is stored by a third party, the third-party and the covered entity have to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA).

 

The BAA ought to include details about the methods the third party will use to secure the data and procedures for auditing the data’s security in accordance with the HIPAA guidelines.

 

Since the copies of ePHI are bound to remain in the servers of conventional communication firms, such as Google, Verizon, and Skype, the covered entities ought to have a BAA with such bodies to remain compliant with HIPAA.

 

Sadly, Verizon, Google, and Skype might not enter into such BAAs, meaning that the covered entities will remain liable for fines for any breaches that occur from the lack of HIPAA compliance by these third-party entities.

 

The covered entities, telemedicine providers, might also fail HIPAA audits.

Aligning Compliance And Telemedicine

The ideal messaging solution should be secure. It should also offer the same communication speed as Skype, SMS, or email, while also complying with the HIPAA security rule.

 

This means that only authorized users should be allowed to access ePHI, the communication channel should be secure, and it should be fairly easy to monitor the activity on the channel.

 

The channels of communication should also be user-friendly enough for both patients and physicians to use during interactions.

 

Each authorized user can gain access to the channel through a centrally-issued username and password, which allows them to communicate with other users within the private communication network of the covered entity.

 

The channel should allow all types of communications, including images, documents, and videos.

 

These media should be encrypted both while in transit and at rest. As for monitoring the communication, the messages should be monitored through a cloud-based platform to ensure secure messaging policies are adhered to according to HIPAA rules.

Telemedicine Makes HIPAA Compliance Easier

While this might seem hard to believe, telemedicine might actually make compliance to HIPAA easier for health entities. Unlike convention medical services that had to introduce HIPAA compliance as an afterthought, telemedicine can be crafted with HIPAA compliance at the center of it all.

 

As such, any applications and technologies used in the communication of ePHI at a distance can leverage the latest technological advancements and data security practices.

 

These can include multiple data encryption methodologies and even comprehensive system testing.

 

Any partnerships with third-party vendors will also be based on whether they can have a sustainable BAA with them or not.

 

Telemedicine presents too big an opportunity to be ignored. Even better, the HIPAA guidelines can act as a baseline for security standards for health organizations looking to embrace telemedicine.

 

Since it is easy to be compliant, keen organizations can enjoy its perks without fearing costly fines.

 
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