By Grant McCracken, head of security operations, Bugcrowd.
For some time now, COVID-19 has dominated every aspect of civilian life. The global workforce, healthcare systems, and international news cycles have all been impacted by the pandemic, which wreaked havoc in every area of what was once normal life.
COVID-19 is top of mind for cyberattackers too. The combination of the financial downturn and universal chaos creates the perfect storm for criminals looking to make a quick buck. At the end of the day, attackers run their own businesses too and we should always expect assailants to capitalize on chaos. Targeting healthcare systems, hospitals and workers on the front line are no exception, especially given the mass influx of patients at hospitals, longer work hours and general uncertainty.
Financial gain is the strongest motive for cybercriminals and healthcare is already a vulnerable target; healthcare assets are exceptionally attractive by default, with sensitive information, delicate infrastructure and the fact that these systems cannot experience downtime.
Just last month, the WHO reported a five-fold increase in cyberattacks on its employees. Around 450 WHO email addresses and passwords were leaked, as well as information of thousands of people currently working on COVID-19 responses. Since then, the agency has begun to relocate affected systems to a more secure arrangement, including the utilization of a safer authentication process. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
In late March, a group of attackers impersonated WHO staff in emails and targeted civilians in attempts to obtain donations to fraudulent COVID-19-based nonprofits. While the source of the attack was not confirmed, it is possible that an accomplished hacking group called DarkHotel was behind the attack, according to a Reuters report.
On top of that, attacks across industries have spiked exponentially. Google observed more than 18 million malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19 a day during the first week of April and Zscaler reported a whopping 30,000% increase in COVID-19 themed phishing incidents, malicious websites, and malware attacks since January 2020.
By Heather Annolino, senior director healthcare practice, Ventiv.
As hospitals are working vigorously to address the health care needs of its patient population during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are unintentionally leaving themselves and their patients exposed to cybersecurity risks.
Measures implemented to protect workers and patients, including expanded use of telehealth and telemedicine, remote work and bringing new equipment such as ventilators online can leave data exposed, and institutions vulnerable to hackers and scammers. These cyberattacks can affect supply chains and the ability to leverage healthcare data from the COVID-19 pandemic for use in the future for other crises.
In March 2020, the Office for Civil Rights announced it would not enforce penalties for HIPAA noncompliance against providers leveraging telehealth platforms that may not comply with privacy regulations. This measure rapidly expanded the use of telehealth and telemedicine over the past several weeks, allowing providers to utilize videoconferencing platforms, including WebEx, Zoom and Skype.
The use of telemedicine improves patient access and assists with alleviating the additional burden on healthcare systems by limiting in-person care during the COVID-19 pandemic. If any incidents do occur, they should be entered into the facility’s health care risk management/patient safety software system. This technology is designed to help healthcare organizations see all of their data in one place, making it easier to learn from the incidents through analysis. While doing that now might be difficult, it is essential to capture this data to improve preparation for the next disaster and prevent patient harm.
Although telemedicine presents a lower risk from a risk management perspective, it is still important to provide consistent processes and protections to mitigate potential threats. During these uncertain times, telemedicine is the best option for providers to continue treating select segments of their patient population, as well as triage potential COVID-19 cases. Whether health care organizations are looking to expand (or even begin) the use of telemedicine capabilities, it is crucial to outline best practices for consent, credentialing, and security and privacy to assist with mitigating potential risks.
Here are a few strategies facilities should consider:
Security and Privacy
Under normal circumstances, healthcare facilities have difficulty bringing key equipment online securely. As facilities are currently working tirelessly to address COVID-19 patients’ needs in addition to continuing to provide care to non-COVID-19 patients, there is a potential increase of security risks as additional medical equipment and medical IoT devices integrate into the network.
By investing in and deploying cybersecurity procedures and protections, including backup and downtime procedures, healthcare facilities can reduce the risk of potential phishing and ransomware attempts. These measures should include ensuring all practitioners are using communication apps recommended by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights and secure telephone connections as well.
It is clear that there have been some massive changes throughout our country with the recent events that are happening in our country and throughout the world. These changes are having a direct impact on every industry and hitting every company which is why we wanted to take a moment to respond to these events and how they are affecting you, your policies, and our company.
We first want to extend our thanks to all of the health care professionals around the world who are on the front lines battling this disease. We value your courage and are thankful for your service. Unfortunately, something like this forces us to see our mortality and makes insurance needs a bit more important.
Changes with How Doctors Research and Buy Disability & Life Insurance
Changes that Insurance Companies have made for Life & Disability Insurance
Opportunities & Advantages that are Available for Doctors
How will this Affect You as a Doctor
Changes to Research and Buying Disability and Life Insurance for Doctors
A lot has changed a lot of how we research and buy everything. Amazon’s very busy this time. In fact they come to my neighborhood almost every day, it’s incredible. Due to these changes and social distancing guidelines, a lot of traditional advisors who meet with clients face to face to close their doors because they don’t have the capacity or the ability to do things online. Now, you’re finding fewer and fewer advisors out there who can actually help you to research and buy disability and life insurance.
Another major change we’ve seen is many educational events being canceled, things like lunch and learns or the types of educational sessions you might have there and your program, even dinners and things like that sponsored by financial planners. A lot of these things are obviously going by the wayside because you can’t really do that anymore. This is taking away some of the opportunities you have to learn about these important financial decisions you have to make.
Your opportunities to learn and to have someone help you on these decisions are becoming fewer and far between. You have to be able to understand that online is a great place to shop and compare quotes for disability and life insurance, but you have to be particularly savvy at it. There are people online who tried to persuade doctors by the wrong kind of policies, whether intentionally or unintentionally. There are probably people who are actually trying to get into online sales of these types of products who maybe shouldn’t be there. It is important to be careful that you’re with someone who can really do a good job educating you and helping you take care of things online.
The main things to look for when shopping online for insurance are:
An independent broker
A broker is someone who isn’t a representative of any one company. They’re independent of any company insurance company, they’re kind of between you and the insurance company are coming to advocate for you. They will help you to shop and compare and do it in an unbiased way.
Chatbots have come of age. And they’ve come a long way from the clumsy pop-ups once deployed on websites to generate leads. Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, the latest generation of chatbots are more clever than ever and are increasingly playing a role in the global fight against COVID-19.
Chatbots on the Front Lines
You might not expect to find chatbots on the front lines of a public-health crisis, but multiple hospitals and health organizations have recognized their value at a time when all human hands are on deck. Take Hyro’s COVID-19 Virtual Assistant, for example, this free AI-powered, corona-focused chatbot answers questions, parses responses, poses follow-up queries of its own, triages symptoms and addresses patients’ concerns while sharing important information from the CDC and WHO.
The Hyro COVID-19 Virtual Assistant can be embedded on websites, call centers, and apps, allowing patients to freely interact with it via voice and text using their own natural language. In essence, this data-driven virtual assistant assumes the role of a human point of contact, relieving strain at a time when health organizations are increasingly overloaded. Hyro, a member of Microsoft’s Partner Network, has been entrusted by a number of healthcare facilities including New York’s Montefiore Hospital, the Austin Regional Clinic, and Ohio’s Fisher-Titus Medical Center. The tech startup has made the plug-and-play chatbot completely free for the purposes of combatting the outbreak.
How Chatbots Are Sparking Conversation
This isn’t the only example of a chatbot being integrated into the typical patient journey: developers such as Txtonomy and Orbita and have created similar conversational AI tools to help combat the rampant spread of misinformation related to Covid-19 and support medical professionals in screening patients and educating worried citizens. The UK government introduced a special WhatsApp chatbot for the same reasons. Could this be an insight into the future of healthcare: clinical smart-bots handling preliminary inquiries, screening and funnelling patients accordingly, introducing efficiencies in testing and treatment?
By Guljeet Nagpaul, chief product officer, ACCELQ.
COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on the U.S. and the world.
Cases and deaths continue to rise as major global economies slide into recession – or worse.
One rare, but burgeoning area of positive growth in the pandemic is telehealth. Medical services and data shares electronically has stood tall during the current health crisis.
According to data from Mordor Intelligence, the global telehealth market will grow to an estimated value of $66 billion by 2021.
Telehealth is particularly growing in data-intensive healthcare industry sectors like record-keeping, telehealth sessions and virtual, video-based doctor appointments, and the surging e-prescription sector, where physicians are increasingly able to issue prescriptions via a mobile app.
The healthcare industry is also experiencing a rise in digital epidemiology tools, chatbot systems, EHR guidance tools and rapid-response COVID-19 testing kits, among other digital-based solutions.
These tools are increasingly needed by health care practitioners to stem the COVID-19 tide – and any delays getting them into health professionals hands is a delay that coronavirus caretakers and patients can’t afford to take.
A Need for Testing and Quality Assurance
Still, even at a time of pandemic, those delays are only all too real – and the problem often lies in the archaic structure of the health care sector.
Case in point. While the coronavirus crisis has driven the need for new digital tools that have fueled a health care system transformation, the bureaucratic rigidity the health care still exists. Even as digital tools recast the entire health industry model, old problems remain, especially in the centralized and technologically inefficient modes of data management.
That’s where good data software testing and quality assurance come into play, in the form of test automation. As automation becomes the software development standard for revenue-minded companies, regular testing is required to make sure productivity and security activities are above board, and is critical in getting the digital healthcare products and services out the door and into hospitals and care centers as quickly as possible.
The emergency room is a place of extreme efficiency. In many ways, this is by necessity and by design. In the ER, there’s often more work to be done than people available to do it. ER staffers aren’t typically working to cure anyone; they’re most likely just trying to keep them alive. Decisions in the ER happen quickly because failure to do so can have lethal consequences.
When faced with a demand for care that far outstrips the supply of doctors and nurses, ER staff use a triage method to establish the order in which medical staff sees patients. People with more minor injuries can afford to wait, but others with very serious conditions must be tended to immediately if they are to survive at all.
The job of processing and ranking patients is primarily left to triage nurses and their application of the Emergency Severity Index, or ESI. The ESI provides a one-to-five scale that nurses use to help quickly prioritize patient needs and distribute medical resources accordingly. This scale helps triage nurses make difficult decisions more quickly and more fairly, but the process still has its limitations.
The pace of work in the ER means that staff must often rely on fast modes of thinking and default heuristics — or generalized, rule-based cognition — as opposed to slow, careful deliberations. This fast thinking tends to be more based on routine or habits of mind, and it’s potentially more prone to certain errors. Although triage and the ESI are intended to objectively rank patients in the order that they need care, the blind spots and biases of ER staff can lead to sub-optimal decisions that adversely impact outcomes and put lives in danger.
Cognitive Errors in the ER
Whenever decisions must be made under conditions of great stress and very limited time, mistakes are likely to occur. This is certainly the case in the ER, where a course of action has to be chosen within seconds and life or death might be on the line. A triage nurse who is forced to make a snap decision might rely on the standard course of action and a simple ESI application. There might be no opportunity to consider the specifics of each case. Instead, the nurse has to use default modes of thinking, and this is where mistakes could be made.
One reasoning error that’s particularly common in the ER is bounded rationality. Given limited information and very limited time, triage nurses are likely to settle on decisions that are “good enough,” rather than attempting to optimize. Essentially, this is to place boundaries on what’s considered relevant and possible and to only focus on the immediate and the obvious.
Medical indemnity is a field of insurance that is primarily related to malpractice or negligent behavior in various medical professions. It applies to mistakes, accidents, and other events where the claimant can prove that an incident has occurred because of negligence by a medical practitioner and can receive compensation as a result.
Even if a medical practitioner has been fully trained and possesses a wealth of experience in their field, mistakes and accidents can still occur. As our society becomes more litigious than ever, it’s essential for you, as a medical professional, to protect yourself against the risk of legal action being made against you. Even if the claim being made against you is false, the legal fees required to defend your case can still be extremely costly, and so it is essential to have a comprehensive medical indemnity insurance policy.
Medical indemnity insurance is different from other forms of insurance because claims usually occur a while after an incident actually happens. A claim could be made some time before a condition is exacerbated or symptoms develop, and it could take a significant amount of time for the cause to be determined.
The different types of medical indemnity
Claims based indemnity only provides cover for events that occur during the insurance membership period or policy, as long as the claim is reported before the end of the period. Once the membership or policy has lapsed, new claims that were not reported during the membership period or policy will not be provided with cover. In order to be protected against any more claims that arose but were not reported during the membership or policy, run-off cover will be required.
Practicing self-care and taking care of our mental – and physical – health at home is important at the best of times. Now, however, most of us are being asked to stay at home, and there’s no telling when that mandate is going to be lifted.
This means that we’ve all got a bit more time than usual to practice self-care. However, often this can be easier said than done. If you’re out of ideas on how to stay on top of your health, let’s talk. Here are four ways to take care of your health at home.
1. Get Organized
One of the first steps to maintain your mental health at home right now is to get organized. There’s no doubt that you will have a long list of things that you kept putting off in normal life. Now with all this time, there’s no moment like the present to cross a line through a few of those.
A small change like reorganizing your fridge, or finally cleaning out the hall cupboard or going through what’s under the bed will go a long way in making you feel accomplished, fulfilled, and productive.
So, you are a germ freak always clean of ensuring your place of work or residence is clear of anything that may be hazardous to your health. However, you are also aware of some of the possible health problems that are caused by some cleaning agents/chemicals. So how then do you ensure you get to maintain a germ-free environment and avoid using potentially harmful chemicals at the same time? By getting yourself a multipurpose steam cleaner.
Steam cleaning is the way to go!
A steam cleaner is basically an appliance meant to clean dirty surfaces using hot vapor released at high pressure. It is an effective and environmentally friendly way of cleaning dirty surfaces without having to incur the extra cost of buying cleaning agents that would have potentially been harmful to your health.
It is a good cleaning solution for people with health problems such as allergies as it only involves the use of water for sterilizing and disinfecting homes and dirty surfaces. Users can get rid of harmful germs and bacteria without running the risk of being harmed by the chemicals found in some cleaning agents.
The coronavirus pandemic has turned the world upside down. It has claimed thousands of lives and affected millions of others. Now, the general masses are simply worried that they may catch the virus. This situation is unprecedented, and it has challenged our existence. Then, it resulted in a lock down, which confined everyone in their own homes. People across the globe have been dealing with the effects of lock down, both physical and psychological.
This situation stresses the need for our safety and of those around us. Since the beginning, the emphasis is on how we can protect ourselves. Doctors and medical experts have been advising people on the use of safety gear and precautions. They are urging them to stay indoors and care for themselves and their families. All of this revolves around one requirement; to avoid contracting the virus.
So, the question that arises here is, what steps to take to avert a virus? But let us not worry about it, but ponder upon the safety measures. In this article, we will elaborate on all the safety tips to help you be safe. Once you conclude this write-up, you will know what to do. So, let’s start.
The first reason for any infection is due to a lack of knowledge. Since we hear and discover so many diseases, we tend to confuse them with each other. For instance, many people who caught the coronavirus initially did not know clearly about it. Sometimes, we fall prey to disease as we think it might not affect us at all. However, the fact is, it does. And, when that happens, we end up putting everything at stake. So, it is a must to get adequate and relevant knowledge. For this purpose, you can use any digital resource of your choice.
By Grant McCracken, head of security operations, Bugcrowd. For some time now, COVID-19 has dominated every aspect of civilian life. The global workforce, healthcare systems, and international news cycles have all been impacted by the […]
By Heather Annolino, senior director healthcare practice, Ventiv. As hospitals are working vigorously to address the health care needs of its patient population during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are unintentionally leaving themselves and their patients […]
It is clear that there have been some massive changes throughout our country with the recent events that are happening in our country and throughout the world. These changes are having a direct impact on […]
Chatbots have come of age. And they’ve come a long way from the clumsy pop-ups once deployed on websites to generate leads. Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, the latest generation of chatbots are more clever than […]
By Guljeet Nagpaul, chief product officer, ACCELQ. COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on the U.S. and the world. Cases and deaths continue to rise as major global economies slide into recession – or worse. […]
By Suresh Yannamani, president, Exela Technologies. The emergency room is a place of extreme efficiency. In many ways, this is by necessity and by design. In the ER, there’s often more work to be done […]