Category: Healthcare

Healthcare Providers and Patients
The Challenges in Healthcare Technology
Before COVID-19

Healthcare systems all over the planet were facing a 100-year storm that was fueled by high costs, new technologies, patient burdens, and high consumer expectations. COVID-19 was just a kind of rogue wave hitting the industry broadside and accentuated already perilous health systems.

In order to explore where we are with healthcare technology in 2020 and what solutions can be outlined, we need to begin with the problems.

Technology must be harnessed to help healthcare professionals accomplish the following:

·         Improve patient care

·         Lower care delivery costs

·         Manage admin/paperwork responsibilities

·         Access information “on-the-go”

·         Provide data transparency

·         Enable patients to be more involved in their care

·         Lower capital expenditures

·         Remove siloed legacy applications and IT systems

·         Meet EMR federal mandate

·         Comply with HIPAA, HITECH, and European legislation (BSI, ISO, EU Healthcare)

·         Handle supply chain logistics

The Trends

The trends in healthcare can either help alleviate the current challenges within the system, or conversely, add exponentially to the burden already on healthcare providers and payers.

·         Consumerism

People are beginning to view their healthcare as more of a retail exchange, complete with expectations of modern communications and access to/control of their healthcare data. Added to this is the widespread acceptance of wearables and other internet-connected healthcare devices.

·         Virtual Reality

Whether you are a surgeon using augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) to visualize a complex procedure or a resident in a long-term care facility using a VR headset for “virtual vacation therapy,” VR use is growing, and healthcare professionals are constantly finding more uses for it.

·         AI Aided Diagnoses

Identifying disease, improving the accuracy of diagnosis, supporting population health diagnosis studies are just three of the many practical utilizations of AI in modern healthcare.

·         Securing Data

Healthcare data is a treasure trove for cybercriminals. Not only is there information about billion-dollar healthcare companies, but there is also the personal information of millions of patients available to them in an unsecured system as well. It’s big business. In fact,  healthcarefinancenews.com tells us that cybercrime cost the industry $4 billion in 2019 alone.

·         Mobility and Accessibility

Remote patient care and the increasing need for healthcare professionals to have remote access to patient records and their own workflow is pushing everything toward the need for secure, mobile access.

·         Pricing Transparency

Recent moves by the federal government is forcing more pricing transparency in the industry. Kaiser Health News tells us that “Hospitals will soon have to share price information they have long kept obscured — including how big a discount they offer cash-paying patients and rates negotiated with insurers…”

What does that mean for the state of healthcare technology?

It’s going to put the burden on technology to increase efficiency even more in an effort to be competitive in pricing.

·         5G and WiFi 6

The faster speeds and increased communication capabilities with these new networks will be an competitive advantage to the healthcare providers in the markets where the technology first becomes available.

·         Telehealth

COVID-19 has pushed telehealth to the forefront of the healthcare thought process. Now, it is being used across the nation to overcome the obstacles of time and space to provide healthcare at a distance.

·         Individualized Treatments Based on DNA

Precision medicine is driving exponential utilization of data. While DNA targeted therapies are saving lives, they are requiring a higher level of computing capacity than has been previously been required across the board.

·         New Players on the Horizon

Companies like Amazon, Best-Buy, Salesforce, and others that have a handle on high-level technologies are making or considering ventures into the healthcare space in response to a rise in consumerism in healthcare. In an article on the topic by Hannah Chenoweth at HealthSpaces, she states that “Retailers put consumers in control, and their spaces are inspiring and engaging, whereas the traditional medical experience means waiting in a sterile, intimidating environment.” Keeping up with disruptors in the market is going to require staying ahead of the game technologically.

·         Critical Nature of Interoperability

Hundreds of different vendors for analytics are in use across the country. In fact…more than 400. To streamline the system so that physicians and clinicians don’t face interoperability roadblocks is going to be a monumental technology challenge.

 

The People

Who is affected by the State of Healthcare Technology?

·         Patients

·         Patients’ Families

·         Payers

·         Clinicians

·         Physicians

·         Nurses

·         Healthcare IT Administrators

·         CEOs/CFOs

·         Admin Staff

·         Data Scientists

·         Researchers

·         Radiologists

·         Medical Imaging Specialists

 

So that’s a snapshot of the situation. Next we will take a look at some of the IT bright spots looming on the healthcare horizon.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to talk to us about your healthcare IT objectives, please contact us at (888) 603-9030.
New Tech Will Help Our Healthcare System
New Technologies Will Help Our Healthcare System

 

 

While digital technologies and services proved to be a lifesaver carrying us through the disruption caused by Covid-19, it did little to help the healthcare industry. Against this backdrop, healthcare leaders are under on-going pressure to improve patient outcomes and reduce operational costs. The translation? Do more with less resources. Increasingly, healthcare has to support large numbers of caregivers, support staff, and wrangle huge amounts of data.

Advances in digital healthcare technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), virtual reality, genomes, and nanotechnology, hold the promise of answering the question of balancing patient care and operational expense.

AI is often thought of as automation and anything involving robotics; however, through the use of AI algorithms, AI technology can design treatment plans or even create new drugs. Google’s Deep Mind created an AI that can identify breast cancer more accurately and faster than human radiologists. Paige. AI – a member of the NVIDIA Inception program – was granted “Breakthrough Designation” by the US Food & Drug Administration, the first such designation for AI in cancer diagnosis.

Digital technology offers three types of visual experiences which can be used to better prepare for surgery and as an educational tool. Virtual Reality is being used by future surgeons to practice operations. A recent Harvard Business Review Study showed how practicing VR procedures boosted success by 230% over traditionally trained surgeons. Augmented Reality creates a multi-sensory world where digital images and data are rendered onto real-world objects. Mixed Reality combines the digital world with the real-world environment so that users can interact with both. Imagine a surgeon preparing for a complicated brain surgery. The hospital receives all the MRE images. The Mixed Reality device renders them into a 3-Dimensional holographic image. A doctor can look at the problematic area and analyze it layer by layer. Zooming in and out of the patient, the doctor can plan their entire intervention before actually making an incision.

Genome Sequencing determines a person’s complete DNA sequence and could provide the key for understanding the blueprint for building a person and for a person-specific form of healthcare. Illumina, a DNA sequencing company based in San Diego, unveiled NovaSeq, a machine that will one day order-up your whole genome for less than the cost of a blood test.

Nanotechnology is the science of the extremely small and it holds enormous potential for healthcare. MIT created an electronic wireless controlled pill that could perform basic diagnostic information or release drugs in response to Smartphone commands. Small, smart pills like the PillCam are already in use to perform noninvasive colon exams.

Many of these new medical technologies, and more, are sure to have an impact on improving life for both patients and their providers. Like the future of many other industries, healthcare’s destiny is directly tied to how well healthcare professionals embrace technologies as they become available.

In a Harvard Business Review article from April 28, 2020, Hemant Taneja stressed the critical importance of rebuilding our healthcare system in real partnership with technology innovators. Some technology companies like NVIDIA already have new sophisticated technologies that help tackle interoperable data, use AI to augment radiology workflows, and help identify pathologies (such as cancers) incredibly fast by analyzing images, providing insights based on previous cases, and diagnose faster and more accurately by pinpointing anomalies. For every new technology available on the market there are another dozen waiting in the wings.

These are exciting times. They are full of uncertainties, crisis, opportunities, and digital technological advancements unlike anything we’ve seen before. The arrival of these new innovations is not as far off as you might think.

Already there are technologies providing healthcare workers with a steady stream of their patient’s health data. This is converging to a point in the not too distant future where medical history data, real-time health, insurance coverage details, and other financial information combine seamlessly to support better patient care and reduced operational expenses.

Flows of knowledge and technology

can provide access to what Taneja refers to in. his article as, “practical solutions that will push us closer to a pandemic resilient health system.”

Digital transformation of information and electronic communication tools

represent the basic foundation for organizations to remain relevant as we move deeper into this decade.

Because the world is more connected than ever, these digital flows have become richer and more powerful than ever. They are to us now what rivers were to ancient cities and civilizations. Back then you wanted to build your town or factory near a rushing river and let it flow through you. That river would give you power, mobility, nourishment, and access to distant neighbors and their ideas. So, it is now, with these digital flows into and out of the cloud.  The river you want to build on now is IronOrbit – the connector will enable you and your organization to gain access to all the computing power you will need now, and in the years ahead. It is where you can tie into every flow in the world in which you would want to participate.

All of these digital technologies and more will be made available and accessed through some form of cloud-based environment.

 

If you’d like to learn more about how you can ensure a future-proof pandemic resilient healthcare system for your organization,
please contact us for a no obligation conversation at (888) 603-9050.

 

 

 

7 Things Healthcare Providers Must Consider Before Creating New Digital Business & Operations
Header Image & Image Description

Mobile devices are the key to taping into knowledge flow streams including the citizen health record platform.

Section 1

Author: John McMahon

Read time: 5min

Healthcare businesses across the country are finding their technology stretched to the limit. Many were struggling with their technology before the outbreak. Now there are the challenges of adding many emerging technologies into the mix. High tech capabilities like telehealth capabilities, remote patient monitoring, and remote workers.

Health IT has been slow to change and adapt over recent years. Thousands of healthcare businesses across the country are making big decisions. The stage has been set. CIOs know that to remain competitive, they must leverage technology. The IronOrbit team works daily with healthcare professionals. We listen to your concerns about IT challenges.

 

Most common concerns are:

  • Aligning technology with reporting requirements
  • Provisioning of work-from-home staff with secure, compliant technology
  • HIPAA and PCI compliance
  • Onboarding and provisioning IT for new physicians, respiratory therapists, clinicians, and support staff
  • Setting up self-triage tools
  • Providing data process transparency to meet the demands of increased shareholder and regulator scrutiny
  • Tele-health capacity
  • Security of practice management applications within the overall IT environment

 

As with healthcare, the BandAid fix is not always the most appropriate course of action – even in a crisis. We work with healthcare clients to seek solutions that meet the high demand of the current situation. We also work to help the leaders of healthcare businesses road map an IT strategy. These strategies not only have to work today, but help shape the years ahead. Healthcare has to put emerging technologies front and center.

 

 

Section 2
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Telehealth and digital monitoring are the wave of the future.

7 Things You Should Consider Before Making Your Next Move

 

 

1. Care

Will this technology do what I want it to do? Will it increase my capacity to improve care for my patients? Will the patients find it easy to use?

 

 

 

2. Capacity

Will the IT solution that I am considering handle current and surge capacity? What about capacity expectations for the next five years?

 

 

 

 

3. Cost

Can the technology be budgeted and brought onto the OP-EX side of the books or do we have to make a large capital investment?

 

 

 

 

4. Cybersecurity

What are the security risks associated with the proposed technology implementation? Will this new technology make my patients’ data and employees’ privacy more or less secure?

 

 

 

5. Configuration

How should the new technology be configured to avoid security gaps and to provide the greatest workflow automation advantage?

 

 

 

 

6. Continuity

How difficult will it be for physicians, patients, clinicians, and admin staff to adapt to the new technology? Will the proposed technology adoption interrupt the continuity of care?

 

 

 

7. Compliance

Is the technology I am considering aligned with the compliance requirements my practice must meet?

 

Section 3
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For healthcare providers, It’s been all hands on deck, and then some.

Putting together a road map for Healthcare IT is challenging under normal circumstances. These are not normal circumstances.

Having the right IT consultants on your side will make all the difference. We are technology partners who will ask the tough questions. And we will answer the questions that are most critical to long term growth and success. Together we will find the right balance of technology for you. Our solutions will address current IT challenges. They will better prepare you for adopting advanced technologies as they become available.

Like medicine, every “prescription” for your IT system can have side effects. You must have experts who can understand the problem from your perspective. People who know and understand the complexities behind your Health IT decisions.

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Want more information about making critical decisions about your Health IT systems?
We’re here to help. Call us at 1-888-753-5060
or click below to learn more.
Ransomware Targets Healthcare
The Healthcare Ransomware Epidemic: How to Protect Your Patients
The Problem is Becoming a Crisis

Data breaches are happening at an alarming rate. In fact, the threat of ransomware attacks has become elevated to crisis levels. While there’s increased awareness, attacks are becoming more sophisticated. A variety of large and small organizations are being attacked. No one is immune. The healthcare industry has been and continues to be, prime targets. And for good reason. Healthcare organizations are considered low-hanging fruit by cybercriminals. Hackers know healthcare centers are notorious for having inefficient security. Most hospitals don’t have procedures in place to restore a network once locked by ransomware. Most applications in Hospitals have little or no network segmentation. There are no firewalls between workloads. Basic security protocols are not in place.

Besides the alarming ransomware statistics, there are some attacks that never get reported. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services experienced 52 data breaches in October. Last year, hackers stole over 38 million medical records. These sobering statistics have made the healthcare industry take notice. Many healthcare organizations are taking steps to increase cybersecurity. But more can be done. This article will take a look at some of the more recent ransomware cases. We’ll look at some mistakes that were made in dealing with cyberattacks. And we’ll offer ways to improve cybersecurity and protect patient data moving forward.

The consequences of a data breach reach far beyond the breaking news story. There’s more to it than the short news article that appears on your computer screen. A single attack can close down an organization for good. It can happen in a few minutes. The consequences can have long-lasting implications. This is particularly true for the healthcare industry. Sure, the reputation of the healthcare center gets flushed down the toilet, but there’s a real impact on the patients. These incidences are not merely expensive inconveniences. Cyberattacks disrupt the entire eco-system of the institution. It puts people’s health, safety, and lives at risk.

 

Healthcare Worker Distressed by Ransomware Locking up IT systems
Security breaches will cost healthcare organizations $6,000,000,000 this year.

 

Often, the healthcare center gets victimized twice. First, there is a ransomware attack. Second, the healthcare system becomes the target of a class-action lawsuit from a community of angry patients and their families.

Consider the New Scientist article about the 2016 attack on the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center. It was a Friday afternoon when malware infected the institution’s computers. The attack seized patient data and prevented the staff from further communication. The date was February 5. The same day computer hackers tried to steal 1 billion from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It all happened in a matter of seconds. Medical records had to be kept by using pen and paper. They used old fax machines. Patients were sent to other hospitals, operations canceled. The medical center was back on-line after a 2-week standoff. But not until after paying a ransom of 50 bitcoins (the equivalent of $17,000 at the time).

Malware can infect the entire computer system. Someone clicks on a link to a booby-trapped website or opens an attachment in a phishing email. Immediately, malicious malware gets to work encrypting the files. Some malware can immobilize entire IT infrastructures. If data is backed up and you get an attack of malware or something, you can always go back to yesterday’s data.
Healthcare targets often have their backs against the wall during a cyberattack. Because they don’t have their files backed up.

In most cases, a ransom is paid. The hackers deliver the decryption key. And medical centers are able to decrypt the seized files. The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center was straight forward. They handled the crisis as best they could. See the above comments about using pen and paper. They negotiated a lower ransom and their data was returned. More recent victims haven’t been so lucky.

Medical malpractice has been part of the healthcare landscape since the 1960s. Now there is an additional risk of medical malpractice during ransomware attacks. If the ransomware attack affects the patient in any way, there will be repercussions.

Doctor Using Tablet
While only a few healthcare systems have policies around using mobile devices, there is a growing movement to regulate such devices.

Take the cyberattack on LifeBridge Health systems. Seven months after the incident, the Baltimore-based health system faced another problem. A class-action lawsuit was filed against them. The lawsuit claimed negligence on the part of the medical center. It also accused LifeBridge of waiting 2 months before informing the affected patients.

LifeBridge had to respond to the allegations. The organization contracted a national computer forensic team to investigate the attack. Patients were offered credit monitoring and identity protection services.

Clearly there are basic mistakes made that contribute to breaches. Mistakes can allow the infiltration to happen in the first place. Resolving a ransomware situation is stressful. People can do things that t make the situation worse.

Ransomware Recovery Mistakes

Health Management Concepts in Florida was attacked with ransomware. The official report was made on August 23. HMC learned about the incident on July 16. The ransom was paid. The attackers delivered the decryption keys. The hospital IT administration immediately took steps to decrypt the data. To their horror, the HMC staff realized they made the problem worse. They accidentally sent files containing patient information to the hackers.

UnityPoint Healthcare had the misfortune of suffering two security breaches in 2018. The second attack compromised the data of 1.4 million patients. At least, that’s the official tally. A series of phishing emails had been made to look like they were from a top executive within the company. An employee fell for the scam. It gave hackers the opportunity needed to penetrate the entire system.

The protection of healthcare assets is not just a matter of protecting patient information but protecting the patients themselves.
Recognizing the Risk is the First Step Toward Protecting Patient Information

The onslaught of cyberattacks against healthcare is relentless. There are inspiring stories of medical centers fighting back. They’re defending themselves against nefarious cyberattacks. They’re saving lots of money. Increasing their efficiency. And better protecting their patients.

One such story belongs to the Interfaith Medical Center of Brooklyn, New York. It’s a 287-bed non-profit teaching hospital that treats more than 250,000 patients every year. They were able to avoid malware outbreaks. Their proactive approach enabled them to detect and respond immediately to advancing threats. Their strategy involved an assessment of threats and implementation of policies and procedures.

Incident response time is critical. Measure it with a stopwatch, not a calendar. All the segmentation in the world isn’t any good if the door won’t be closed in time. Their program was successful. It identified malware infections long before they had a chance to become a problem. They were even able to identify a malware-infected medical device after it came back from a repair vendor.

The Interfaith Medical Center anticipated a ransomware attack and took steps to prepare for it. In a September 3, 2019, Healthcare IT News article, we learn how Christopher Frenz – the VP of Information Security protected the non-profit’s IT system. “One of the ways I approached this was simulating a mass malware outbreak within the hospital, using a custom-developed script and the EICAR test string. Running the script attempted to copy and execute the EICAR test string on each PC within the organization to simulate the lateral movement of a threat within the hospital. Exercises like these are great because they help an organization identify what security controls are effective, which controls are ineffective or in need of improvement, how well or not the staff response to an incident will be, and if there are any deficiencies in the organization’s incident response plan,” he explained.

Christopher Frenz, Interfaith Medical Center's VP of Information Security
Christopher Frenz, VP or Information Security at Interfaith Medical Center, led the charge with his zero trust architecture that protected the network from cyberattacks and saved the healthcare system millions of dollars.
“We have successfully avoided malware outbreaks and are actively detecting and responding to advanced threats, long before they impact privacy or operations.”

Christopher Frenz, Interfaith Medical Center

 

The article ends with some excellent advice from Frenz. “Healthcare needs to begin to focus on more than just compliance alone, as it is far too easy to achieve a state where an organization meets compliance requirements but is still woefully insecure. Organizations need to put their security to the test. Pick solutions that can empirically be shown to improve their security posture.”

 

There are basic steps healthcare organizations can take to minimize their risk of ransomware attacks. Learn as much as you can about ransomware attacks. Consider all possible points of entry. Where is your IT system vulnerable? Medical software used for patient data has numerous vulnerabilities. Healthcare cybersecurity statistics by Kaspersky Security Bulletin found easy access to 1500 devices used by healthcare professionals to process patient images such as X-rays.

 

Improving the cybersecurity of a healthcare organization, whether large or small, has two parts. One part has to do with the design and implementation of the IT system entire (i.e. whether-or-not there’s back-up and disaster recovery features in place). The other part has to do with your human capital.

 

Malware can be introduced from any number of locations along with your network. Often the attack is designed with multiple points of entry. It could be phishing emails where an employee is tricked into clicking on something that is booby-trapped. It could be a bogus email from what looks like an upper-level executive but is actually from a hacker.

 

ON-GOING EDUCATION AND REFRESHER COURSES
Healthcare Employees Being Educated on Cyber Security Procedures
Healthcare employees should have regular and comprehensive cyber threat education. This enables them to avoid falling into traps that can trigger ransomware. It also serves to establish a strong security culture.

Human beings make mistakes. This is especially true in the busy high-stress environments of hospitals. Or in situations where doctors, nurses, and orderlies work extended 10 to 12-hour shifts. People have to be educated about the risks of cyberattacks and what forms such attacks might take. It’s easy for a rushed employee, at the tail-end of their shift, to unknowingly click a file, download an unauthorized software, or be tricked into loading a contaminated thumb drive. There are basic security processes that should be implemented. These are things like creating strong passwords and changing them at regular intervals. Duel factor protection is also a good idea.

Cybercrooks study the vulnerability of humans. Hackers continually figure out ways to exploit human traits and their gullibility. Through social engineering tactics, cyber attackers design pathways to plant ransomware or get a foothold in an information system.

 

SECURITY IS NOT ABOUT QUICK FIXES

Take the time to ensure the staff and vendors are mindful of what they’re doing. Review policies and procedures regarding handling patient data. Review how to avoid security incidences. As we have seen, any data breach has legal ramifications. There needs to be a systematic response that is carefully considered and forged into a process. Additionally, partner with the right vendor who can design and provide a holistic security solution that will protect your patients.

The Benefits of Hosted Desktops for Hospitals

Hosted desktops can help hospitals to:

  • Reduce their IT costs
  • Increase the security, manageability, and reliability of their IT
  • Allow their employees to access their work-related files and applications from anywhere with any device

What Are Hosted Desktops?

Hosted desktops are Windows desktop operating systems that you access via the Internet.

They can be accessed from anywhere with any standard end-user device, including:

  • Windows and Linux PCs and Macs
  • iOS and Android tablets and smartphones
  • Any brand of thin client

Hosted desktops appear and perform exactly the same as locally-installed Windows desktop OSes.

Among other things, you can use them to install and run Windows-compatible applications, store files, send and receive emails, and browse the Internet.

Each hosted desktop will be assigned to a specific user, and will retain that specific user’s applications, files, and setting even after he or she logs out.

Benefits of Hosted Desktops for Hospitals

For hospitals, the benefits of utilizing hosted desktops in general include:

1) Lower IT costs

hosted desktop cost savings

Hosted desktops don’t require the purchase of any expensive onsite IT hardware or the hiring of any additional IT personnel. They can be accessed without any decrease in performance or reliability from low-cost, low-maintenance devices such as thin clients and old or low-end PCs without a decrease in performance or reliability.

Plus, hosting companies can provide you with hosted desktops for less than it would cost you to deploy and host virtual desktops internally, due to their specialization, economies of scale, and bulk purchasing power.

2) Increased data security

hosted desktop security

When a user accesses his or her hosted desktop, the only data that is sent from the IT hosting provider’s server to his or her device is the video and audio output of the desktop. All of the files and other data of the hosted desktop remain on the hosting company’s servers by default.

Hosting companies usually protect their servers and hosted solutions with advanced security measures such as enterprise-level firewalls, gateway antivirus, patch management, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS), and 24/7/365 security monitoring.

3) Easier IT management and maintenance

hosted desktop management

Your hosting provider may handle many aspects of the IT management and support of your hosted desktops for you. IronOrbit, for example, includes 24/7/365 monitoring, patch management (managed software updates), data backups, disaster recovery, and 24/7/365 technical support with all of our hosted desktops.

Hosted desktops can also make it easier to maintain your local end-user hardware, since they can be accessed from low-maintenance thin clients (or “fat clients” that serve as thin clients and are just as low-maintenance).

4) Increased reliability (less downtime)

hosted desktop reliable

Hosted desktops are protected from downtime and data loss with measures such as 24/7/365 monitoring and maintenance, data backups, redundant hardware, Internet, and power, environmental controls (redundant HVAC, raised flooring, hot and cold aisles, and smoke detectors and fire sprinklers), and uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) and diesel generators.

5) Increased accessibility

hosted desktop accessibility

Hosted desktops can be accessed from anywhere with any device.

This allows hospital employees to access their files and applications from portable devices as they travel from room to room, not just from stationary terminals. It also allows them to access these resources from home.

Hosted Desktop: How to Sign Up

To sign up for hosted desktops, hospitals should contact an IT hosting company such as IronOrbit. The hosting company will deploy your hosted desktops for you according to your specifications, and you’ll pay the hosting company a flat monthly per-user cost for them.

To sign up for hosted desktops from IronOrbit, simply contact us at (888) 753-5060 or sales@ironorbit.com today.