Article | April 1, 2020
Although it was widely reported that several ransomware threat actor groups have pledged to not target healthcare providers until the COVID-19 pandemic is over, BakerHostetler’s Digital Assets and Data Management Practice Group and Healthcare Privacy and Compliance team continue to see ransomware attacks launched against healthcare providers. In order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers have had to radically change their normal business processes, which could make them more vulnerable to ransomware attacks. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has required healthcare providers to make difficult choices related to workforce staffing. Some healthcare providers have been forced to furlough or lay off nonessential workforce members. Healthcare providers also are permitting some workforce members to work remotely. As previously reported by the Data Privacy Monitor, having a reduced workforce and a remote workforce could put healthcare providers more at risk for cybercrime, including ransomware attacks.
Article | April 2, 2020
Healthcare organizations, technology firms, nonprofits, and academia are banding together to use their collective expertise, data, and insights for rapid deployment of innovative, open-source solutions to the global pandemic. The COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition, a private-sector led response, aims to mitigate the worst effects of the coronavirus by flattening the curve. A key component of this effort will be the use of real-time data for analytics that will help preserve the healthcare delivery system. LUMEDX client partners HCA Healthcare, the Mayo Clinic, and Intermountain Healthcare have joined big tech companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and others. For a full list, visit the website here. All coalition work is voluntary, and members are asked to pledge open cooperation and sharing.
In addition to combining the best sources of information from around the world to provide data, analytics and insights to all, the coalition’s priorities include
Article | September 3, 2020
As COVID-19 rages on, warning sirens have sounded of late amid a flurry of headlines surrounding Ultraviolet-C (UVC) light device safety issues. Rightfully so, as the current pandemic has ushered in a veritable “wild west” of UVC gadget deployments with subpar consumer safeguards, instructions or guidance. So important are the concerns amid this rapidly proliferating product sphere, the FDA recently issued a consumer advisory regarding UVC light technology that’s applicable for industrial, business, travel and residential use.
Once largely a germicidal method leveraged in hospital, industrial and other commercial settings for its extreme efficacy, today’s breed of UVC technologies are small, portable and inexpensive enough to be making their way into businesses of every type across the globe—and even traverse with individuals while they’re out and about. This, as generalist retailers like Amazon and Walmart have joined the fray in their attempts to divert market share from the more specialized, expert-driven, safety-focused UVC purveyors.
While germ-killing UVC technologies do proffer tremendous advantages and results for users—serving as a potent tool for easily and effectively eradicating harmful viruses, bacteria, pathogens and microorganisms—there are a number of considerations a business (or employee) should heed before procuring and using such a powerful device. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, why; when; where; and how it will be used—variables that impact safety and risk concerns related to UVC wavelength, dose and duration of radiation exposure.
Shopping in this category can be equally overwhelming. One need only Google “UVC lamps,” which delivers nearly 100,000 results, to realize how bloated this category has become. Amid the chaos, I did happen upon a highly targeted, category-dedicated source wholly dedicated to UVC technologies: CureUV.com. This company draws on over 20-years of expertise in the design, development and provision of technologically advanced UV products and solutions. Today, they are a premier provider of germicidal UVC light solutions for commercial, industrial, portable, residential and even water applications.
While its form factor catalog is copious, below are a few of CureUV’s more popular UVC devices starting under $90 that proffer chemical-free disinfection, which can help ensure your spaces remain free of illness-causing microbial contaminants like viruses, bacteria, mold and other fungi:
Rechargeable Handheld UV Sanitizer Wand With Digital Timer
Here's a highly portable way to eliminate germs and have a cleaner environment no matter where you may be. This powerful UVC illumination system, which retails around $89, eradicates up to 99.9 percent of viruses, bacteria, germs, mold, dust mite eggs and flea eggs on surfaces. This non-chemical option adds an extra layer of safety to you with no hazardous residue. It contains a 6-inch UVC lightbulb allowing for a wider coverage of area as well as accelerating sanitation in the process. A built in timer inside the device allows you to keep track of desired dosage creating precise sanitation sessions-- anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes to indefinite. Its silent operation allows for a noise free solution for sanitation, and sleek and cordless and lightweight design is perfect for travel however near or far--daily around town or those hotel visits. Sanitize how you want in your desired target area or on your personal items keeping them germ free. An internal rechargeable battery saves money on replaceable battery purchases as compared to various other handheld wands on the market.
GermAwayUV 18-Watt Handheld UVC Surface Sanitizer
This device offers reliable and highly portable sanitizing performance at an entry-level price. Indeed, at under $120, this is an affordable, dual-bulb, handheld UV sanitizer that still maintains power levels similar to more industrial UV surface sanitizers. This lightweight and ergonomically designed 18-watt UVC sanitizer will give you much peace of mind. It has a 6-foot cord adequate for most applications, but the sanitizer will run easily with virtually any simple power extension. Its two 9-watt UVC sanitizer bulbs are guaranteed to produce UV light in the 253.7 nanometer (nm) wavelength, which has been consistently proven to eliminate all illness-causing microorganisms. It's the perfect tool to disinfect high use and traffic areas, as well as locations where bacteria and viruses congregate like bathrooms, door handles, seating areas and cooking/dining spaces. It'll prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and microorganisms, or simply add an extra layer of cleanliness and protection to your cleaning procedures. It comes bundled with protective amber UV safety glasses.
Deluxe GermAwayUV 95-Watt UVC Surface Sanitizer with Cage
With a 95-watt bulb, this chemical-free, tabletop UV room and surface sanitizer is the strongest of its kind. It will result in effective room sanitation by killing up to 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses, mold spores, yeasts, C. diff, odors and other harmful microorganisms. With a simple touch of a button you'll be able to leave the room while the entire space is cleaned and disinfected in a matter of minutes. The device has five time settings: 10, 20, 30 and 60 minutes; and hold for indefinite run time. After the selected dosage time has elapsed, the device will automatically shut off. You can use it regularly to ensure a consistently clean room.
Heavy Duty Dual Bulb 72-Watt HVAC UV Air Purifier
Suitable for use anywhere, including schools, offices, work-floors and medical rooms to sanitize air and environmental surfaces, this device is effective in small and large rooms/buildings alike, up to 2,400 square feet. With a powerful 72-watt bulb and a standard electrical unit, you can insert this premium UVC bulb into any HVAC system as an easy add on to sanitize the air in the system. Typical air purifier units and HVAC systems are definitely useful, designed to filter and ventilate air well. But even the finest filters can’t stop atomic sized bacteria and viruses. This device is therefore a great extra add on because it really does target and stop bacteria and viruses from circulating. It sanitizes and disinfects air passing through the HVAC system. Its 72-watt bulb emits UVC light of 254nm and is the most powerful bulb. Most devices are typically only effective in small rooms, but with this level of wattage you can use this device in large rooms and building types. At its wavelength, the emitted light is able to penetrate and kill the DNA of atomic sized organisms that create problems for humans. UVC emission also acts to eliminate mold spores, yeast and fungi. So, inserting this unit device into your existing HVAC system ensures that not only will the air that moves through your building be ventilated, it will also be irradiated and disinfected as it passes over the bulb. Instead of just filtered air in your system, you’ll end up with sanitized, healthy air. Add on (retrofit) features like this one are great because you can just insert them into an already installed and operating HVAC system with minimal additional running costs. This device is easy to install and is capable of DIY application. Other available HVAC retrofit air sanitation and purification solutions include a coil scrubber or 36-watt HVAC UVC air purifier.
GermAwayUV High Occupancy Wall Mountable 150-Watt Air Purifier and Sanitizer
This is a safe and efficient way to sanitize and disinfect the air in high traffic occupied areas. Simply mount the sanitizer on the wall as you would hang a TV or mount a standalone AC system and let the system do its magic. The air purifier will use its powerful, yet quiet, fan to continually cycle all of the air in the room through the system. Once the air does so, it will be met by a quintuple filtration and sanitation system that culminates in a full 150-watt UVC germicidal irradiation. Put this system in a busy hallway, a crowded restaurant, a veterinary clinic with high traffic, a busy office, etc… and it will eliminate bacteria, viruses and harmful pollutants as quickly as possible without exposing anybody to any UVC rays. It proffers optimum perf
Article | January 8, 2021
Prioritizing health and managing it, has become highly important because our lifestyle is continuously evolving in ways that take a toll on us mentally, physically, and emotionally. However, the major issue for the patients lies in the inaccuracy of treatment due to the lack of complete health records in any hospital. With the recent changes in privacy legislation and data management, patients are even unable to retrieve their own health records.
For example, someone had an accident and was taken to the emergency room. The first thing they will need to do in their condition is to fill the hospital’s form. Then, for the treatment, if the injured person is conscious enough, doctors ask questions like if they are allergic to some medicines or do they suffer from diabetes or any other disease. Besides, what if the individual denies having allergies or diabetes in their half-conscious state? And the previous hospitals where they have already had treatment before have denied sharing the medical details of the person either due to privacy issues or data corruption. Well, it can create a lot of fuzz.
Solely, to improve the health industry without compromising the security of the individuals, blockchain has remained in the discussion. It has the potential to address the operability challenges present in the healthcare industry. But, what is blockchain, what are its underlying fundamentals, why blockchain, and what are its advantages?
Today’s blog will help in understanding every aspect of blockchain and its impact on the healthcare industry. So let’s get started!
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a P2P or peer-to-peer distributed or decentralized ledger technology. It stores a chain of data called blocks of information. These blocks are chained together by cryptographic signatures. These signatures are called hash that is stored in the shared ledger and backed by a connected processes network - node. These nodes reserve a copy of the complete chain and get continually updated by synchronization. Though, to include blockchain in the process it’s necessary to hire a developer who has prior experience and knowledge about its architecture and can work with the components efficiently as blockchain is a designed pattern that consists of three major constituents - a distributed network, a shared ledger, and all the digital transactions.
a. Distributed Network
As discussed before, blockchain is built on peer-to-peer networks. While having no central point of storage, it makes the information on the network less vulnerable to being lost or exploited.
Unlike the traditional client-server model that has a centralized storage point or controlling party, all the information in the blockchain network is constantly recorded and transferred to the participants of the network that are also known as nodes or peers. These peers also own several identical copies of the information. That’s why blockchain is seen as a huge improvement to centralized models and is considered the future of data storage and ownership.
b. Shared Ledger
Each authorized participant in the network records the transactions into the shared ledger. If they want to add any transaction, it is important to run algorithms that evaluate and verify the transactions. If the majority of members agree to the transaction’s validity, a new transaction gets added to the shared ledger. The changes done in the shared ledger is reflected in minutes or even seconds in the copies of the blockchain. Once the transaction is added, there’s no way to modify or delete it. Also, as the copy is shared in the form of a ledger to each member, no single member can alter data.
c. Digital Transaction
Transactions are information i.e. data transmission to one block. During the process of data transmission, each node acts as a central point to generate and digitally sign the transaction. As the nodes connect each other in the network, each of them has to verify the transaction independently for its conflicts, validity, and compliance. Only after the transaction passes the verification, the information is added into the shared ledger. The major element that makes digital transactions successful is cryptographic hashing that encrypts the data for security.
Why Blockchain technology in healthcare?
It has happened so often that the patient remains unable to gather all of their previous medical records in one format from one place swiftly or sometimes cannot even collect the required information at all. Unfortunately, in most cases, the information of critical patients remains scattered across several different institutions of healthcare that too in different formats. Besides, the data management systems along with the security regulations also vary in different institutions making it difficult to trace and fix mistakes.
But, what can blockchain do?
A blockchain is a system used for storing and sharing information with security and transparency. Every block in the chain is an independent unit of its own and a dependent link among the collective chain that creates a network controlled by participants rather than a third party.
As blockchains are managed by network nodes instead of central authority, they are decentralized that prevents one entity from having complete control over the network. With the incorporation of blockchain, the need for a central administrator will be removed by cryptography. Healthcare providers will be able to promote data management processes beyond perception. It will help in collecting, analyzing, sharing, and securing medical records. It will provide the access to healthcare workers for retrieving health records with the cryptographic keys provided by patients from anywhere without creating any privacy or security problems.
Advantages of Healthcare Blockchain
Although applications of blockchain in the healthcare industry are inceptive, some early solutions have shown the possibility of reduced healthcare costs, improved access to information among different stakeholders, and streamlining the entire business process. So, keeping aside the buzz, let’s see the real advantages of blockchain in healthcare.
1. Master Patient Indexes
The master patient index helps in the identification of patients across separate administrative systems. It is often created within the EHR or electronic health record system. As these EHRs have different vendors, there are several irregularities of MPIs. In many cases, the data of a patient between these healthcare systems become mismatched. However, with the nature of decentralization in Blockchain, it possesses the ability to solve the issue. In the blockchain-based MPIs, the data will be hashed to the ledger and content will remain unique as only the authorized nodes of the data can make changes to the hashes while all parties with access can only check the related information.
2. Single, elongated patient records
Blockchain technology is potent to transform health care by placing patients at the center of the system while increasing the security and privacy of health records. It provides a new model for health information exchange by forming electronic elongated patient records secured and efficient. Additionally, the fact that the data is copied among all the nodes of the blockchain network creates an atmosphere of clarity and transparency that enables healthcare providers and patients to know how their data is handled by whom, how, and when. It can also help healthcare from potential frauds, data losses, or security attacks.
3. Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management in healthcare is a challenging aspect. With scattered settings for ordering drugs, medical supplies, and critical resources, there’s an inherent risk of compromising the supply chain that might impact patient safety. Indulgence of blockchain technology in the transactions can tap into the complete process of medicine or drug products movement. As all the transactions will be recorded onto the shared ledger with every block recording and maintaining every transaction, it will become easy to verify the vendor, distributor, and origin of the drug within a matter of seconds. It will also enable healthcare physicians and officials to check the authenticity of the supplier’s credentials.
4. Claims Justification
Currently, the insurance claim processes face difficulties like lack of transparency i.e. most customers don’t even know how insurance works; human errors and inefficiencies i.e. insurances are full of confusion along with human errors that create inefficiencies that lead to the increased cost to customers; higher frauds in claims. But, blockchain technology can simplify and enhance recordkeeping, payment processing, claims registration, contract management, and closure with its immutable ledger.
Interoperability is the capability of distinct healthcare information technology to interpret, exchange, and use data. Due to the privacy issues, the alphanumeric code to identify a patient has been revoked that caused problems in gathering the required record of the patient. Enforcing measurement standards for industry-wide interoperability is also a challenge in interoperability. With blockchain in healthcare interoperability, data can be shared in real-time on the trusted network and provides access to the patient’s record in a secured manner. Moreover, with the pri