Hacking Healthcare Reminds Us of Our Need to Assess Vulnerabilities

Bill Balderaz, president, Fathom Healthcare.

Bill Balderaz
Bill Balderaz

In light of the recent hacking healthcare news in which of health insurer Anthem, hospitals and health systems should be reminded of the need to assess their own vulnerabilities. Historically, healthcare organizations have lagged behind other regulated industries in keeping pace with information security despite compiling patient data at expanding rates. Unfortunately, the Anthem attack is unlikely to be an isolated incident: Industry executives have already predicted phishing and malware will be on the rise in 2015.

With an ever-increasing number of Internet-connected devices accessing hospital networks, hackers have an increasing number of ways to exploit vulnerable systems and steal information.

Understanding hacker motivation is important. Some want to sell private information, such as Social Security or credit card numbers. Patient and consumer data have a lucrative black market. Other hackers commit corporate, industrial or political espionage by compromising systems and stealing sensitive information, trademarked designs or strategic plans.

To combat these growing threats, hospitals and health system have prioritized measures such as two-factor authentication; encryption and mobile device security; security risk analysis; advanced email gateway software; and expansion of IT security staff.

What other actions should prudent institutions take?

First, hospitals should develop comprehensive risk assessment plans. These plans can identify potential weak points, determine best practices and provide a roadmap for increased security. They should be reviewed and updated continually. Hospitals also need regular security assessments and training sessions for anyone who uses a computer.

The biggest oversight most organizations make is neglecting the training of end users. Basic training of users upon hire and at least annually will help protect an organization. Users need to make sure they’re not making common mistakes, such as clicking links in phishing emails. Following bogus links can easily allow hackers to steal information or infect computers. Users need to be educated about how to identify and avoid these types of risks. Continue Reading

Top 10 Tech Trends Every Hospital and Healthcare Professional Should Know About

Bill Balderaz
Bill Balderaz

Guest post by Bill Balderaz, president, Fathom Healthcare.

What’s next?

No matter what the discussion is or who you are talking with, this often seems to be the big question. It’s not enough to say “what;” what matters is, “What’s Next?”

Healthcare: This area is the largest, fastest growing and perhaps the fastest changing element of our economy and lives. As a result, just about every conversation we have about healthcare involves a “What’s next?” discussion.

At Fathom, we have the privilege of spending a lot of time exploring what’s next in healthcare marketing and communications. Based on our conversations, observations and research, here is a list of the top 10 tech trends every hospital and healthcare professional should know about.

Predictive analytics. Real time isn’t fast enough. Predictive analytics—or the systematic use of data to predict patient behavior—will usher a big shift in the quality of care. By analyzing hospital data, social media conversations and search patterns, hospitals can predict patient behavior and needs. Hospitals can predict and be ready for flu outbreaks. By analyzing historical admissions data, weather patterns and census data, hospitals can predict emergency room volume and staff for it. Healthcare systems can even look ahead 10 or 20 years and predict the need for cancer care or assisted-living facilities with population data.

Wearables. Wearable devices can monitor blood pressure, heart rate, insulin levels and more. Forget the simple devices we use today: The next generation of wearables will elevate health monitoring to the next level. All this information can also be shared in real time with a healthcare provider, making it part of a larger trend: Partnership between patients and providers.

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