Health Technology, Digital Healthcare
Article | July 14, 2023
The healthcare industry has become a prime target for cybercriminals in recent times.
According to The State of Ransomware in Healthcare 2023 report from Sophos, six in 10 healthcare organizations have been hit by ransomware in the last 12 months, up from 34% in 2021.
Among this uptick have been several headline-grabbing attacks. For example, Shields Health Care Group became the subject of the single-largest breach affecting any organization globally in April 2023, when 2.3 million patients of the Massachusetts-based medical services provider had their personal data stolen after a cybercriminal gained unauthorized access to the organization’s systems.
Meanwhile, in the UK, a ransomware attack on the University of Manchester occurred in June, affecting an NHS patient data set holding information on 1.1 million patients across 200 hospitals.
Critically, the wealth of data housed in healthcare networks, and the potential impact of data unavailability in healthcare, make the industry both attractive and lucrative to threat actors.
It’s no coincidence that the Sophos report shows the rate of encryption in the healthcare sector is at its highest level in recent years. Of those healthcare organizations which suffered a ransomware attack in 2023, 73% had their data encrypted – up from 61% in 2022. When cybercriminals can successfully take down hospital systems and/or encrypt patient data so it can’t be used, they can blackmail health service providers, demanding significant sums before reinstating systems and/or data availability.
Considering healthcare's critical role as the highest-stake industry in our society, where people's lives depend on its success, the likelihood of attackers achieving their goals is greater than in other sectors, as confirmed by the Sophos report. Indeed, of the 73% of healthcare organizations that had their data encrypted, 42% reported that they paid the requested ransom to recover data.
DSPT and the compliance burden
Without question, the security-related challenges in healthcare are mounting. Right now, industry organizations are operating against a backdrop of unprecedented operational and workforce pressures, spiralling demand for care and industrial action.
Moreover, there is a growing regulatory burden, with organizations continually asked to comply with evolving cybersecurity rules, battling with multiple compliance mandates at any given time.
Take the NHS as an example. According to the 2023 NHS Providers’ Regulation Survey, just over half (52%) of respondents said the regulatory burden on their trust had increased. And this is expected to ramp up further in the future, with the UK government setting out a new 2030 strategy aimed at bolstering cyber resilience in healthcare.
Among the compliance burdens that the NHS faces is the challenge of meeting the requirements of the newly updated Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT).
Mandated to minimize cyber risks and enable healthcare providers to maintain a robust information security posture, the DSPT is not a simple checklist of security controls, but a comprehensive toolkit to evaluate current security maturity and establish a risk management programme.
Indeed, in more recent times, DSPT has moved away from being a guide for achieving certain levels of assurance, and toward a mandatory evidence-based system which demands NHS organizations align with 10 precise National Data Guardian (NDG) standards: 1. The organization assures good management and maintenance of identity and access control for its networks and information systems. 2. The organization closely manages privileged user access to networks and information systems supporting essential services. 3. The organization ensures passwords are suitable for the information being protected. 4. Process reviews are held at least once a year where data security is put at risk and following security incidents. 5. Action is taken to address problems as a result of feedback at meetings. 6. All user devices are subject to anti-virus protections, while email services benefit from spam filtering and protection deployed at the corporate gateway. 7. Action is taken on known vulnerabilities based on advice from NHS Digital, and lessons are learned from previous incidents and near misses. 8. The organization has a defined, planned and communicated response to data security incidents impacting sensitive information or key operational services. 9. The organization has demonstrable confidence in the effectiveness of the security of technology, people, and processes relevant to essential services. 10. The organization securely configures the network and information systems that support the delivery of essential services.
Reducing Compliance Challenges with the Right Solutions
Taken individually, these standards may not seem too strenuous to adhere to. However, to be compliant with DSPT, all 10 items need to be completed and deemed ‘satisfactory’.
To tick all 10 key boxes in the most effective and efficient manner simultaneously, organizations should consider their strategy carefully. This could involve embracing supportive tools to accelerate and enhance their compliance journey.
Boiled down, DSPT demands several key things, including unincumbered visibility of the entire ecosystem, as well as the ability to demonstrate secure access, logs and storage, and essential auditing processes to maintain data security.
Achieving these things might appear complicated, even daunting. However, there are solutions known as Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems on the market that can make achieving these capabilities, and in turn DSPT compliance, easy.
Here, we outline some of the key features to look out for to meet compliance: • Log retention: A modern SIEM should be able to provide a centralized log storage and big data platform that scales to any organization’s size. Platforms should be able to provide role-based access to log data, including ‘data privacy’ functionality that can mask sensitive data until approved. Log data should not be modified or removed by users once ingested into the platform, while all data held should also be indexed and fully searchable. • Identifying and disabling unnecessary accounts: A good SIEM will also provide account auditing facilities for Active Directory that allow administrators to quickly identify dormant accounts. They should also be able to remove privileged user access when no longer required or appropriate. More sophisticated platforms will be able to do this in an automated manner. • Easy identification of issues: Clear and easily readable dashboards, alerts and reports for user logging activity should be provided, including failed login, apparent brute-force attempts, and bad password management practices. Further, those using machine learning will be able to identify unusual behavior patterns based on a baseline of activities of users and their peer group. • Integrate with third-party threat feeds: It will also be able to integrate with a wide variety of third-party threat feeds that provide information about specific known threat payloads/hashes and destination domains/addresses.
Meeting the mandate
Of course, having the right features in place is only part of the puzzle. For organizations to be truly successful in embracing tools that enable them to meet DSPT compliance more effectively, they should work to ensure that solutions providers offer them ongoing support – both in terms of ease of deployment and to ensure that they are using key systems in an optimal manner.
Scalability is another important aspect to consider.
Systems should be able to scale and continue to support the organization as data volumes increase and become more complex over time.
In respect of scalability, organizations should take time to think about pricing models, ensuring that these are based on the number of devices (nodes). In doing so, it will become easier to accurately budget future costs, as well as provide greater budgeting certainty over the short, medium and longer term.
A converged SIEM allows organizations to prioritize the big picture over individual tools, enabling them to develop a seamless and easy to use security operations setup. Not only does this approach boost cost transparency and eliminate potential complexities with managing a variety of siloed products – equally, it reduces the burdens on security teams, eliminating complexities over system integration and enhancing performance.
A converged SIEM combines key technologies easily to offer improved security outcomes. In doing so, organizations can easily home in on specific standards and adopt security best practices while reducing the burden on security teams tasked with meeting DSPT compliance.
Health Technology, Digital Healthcare
Article | September 7, 2023
Healthcare leaders are embracing the benefits of the cloud and software as a service (SaaS) after the pandemic challenged them to adapt and innovate like never before. 66% of them expect to move their technology infrastructures to the cloud this year – a number that is set to rise to 96% by 2024 . Yet moving to the cloud is more than just a technology transformation. It’s an organizational transformation. Through cloud-based platforms and solutions, healthcare systems can begin to unlock clinical and operational insights at scale while speeding up innovation cycles for continuous value delivery.
Integrating data across the care continuum
In many ways, COVID-19 catapulted healthcare into the future. The pandemic created a new urgency for healthcare leaders to expand their virtual care offerings as a way of connecting with patients beyond the walls of the hospital. At the same time, they wanted the flexibility to scale up or down without large upfront capital expenditures. Effective crisis management also required the rapid exchange of patient information across systems and care settings. Thanks to the flexibility of pay-as-you-go cloud-based services and solutions, healthcare providers were able to quickly scale up digital health technologies to meet new demands. As a result, the acceptance of cloud has increased remarkably .
Keeping patient data secure and compliant
As healthcare leaders embark on this journey to the cloud, data protection is a critical consideration. Data processing in healthcare must comply with rigorous standards, whether it is HIPAA in the US or GDPR in the EU. Unfortunately, healthcare organizations also remain a top target for data breaches, calling for additional data security protection measures .
While the need for data security and regulatory compliance has historically motivated healthcare organizations to keep data on premises, today there is a growing awareness that moving to the cloud can in fact be the better road to travel. In fact, 60% of healthcare leaders now cite security as one of the top benefits of the cloud . When healthcare organizations rely on their own data centers, they are responsible for security from end to end, which can become prohibitively complex and time-consuming as IT infrastructures expand over time. Cloud-based services and solutions can reduce dependency on local hardware to store sensitive data while automated software updates keep systems current.
Turning data into insights at scale at the point of care
Working from these foundations, the next big opportunity in healthcare is to capture the insights in the data that we are beginning to connect and integrate. This is where the cloud is also turning into a vital enabler, with its powerful computing resources and advanced machine learning capabilities, offered as microservices. These microservices provide the building blocks to develop new digital solutions that, once validated and approved, can be deployed at scale to help improve clinical outcomes and operational efficiency.
Enabling rapid experimentation and continuous value delivery
Embracing the cloud also changes the very nature of innovation in healthcare.
Healthcare-compliant cloud platforms offer a flexible foundation for rapid development and testing of digital applications. Cross-functional teams working in short and agile cycles can put new digital applications into the hands of physicians or patients more quickly, and then add new or improved features and functionalities as they gather additional user feedback. That means healthcare organizations get to innovate faster. And in smaller, more digestible increments.
Moving to the cloud is not all or nothing
Of course, none of this is to suggest that moving to the cloud is like switching a button. It’s a complex and multi-year journey for most of our customers. And it’s quite a journey for Philips, too. Any organization that has accumulated a large number of legacy systems and infrastructures over the years will have to manage a hybrid architecture during their journey to the cloud .
Article | September 12, 2023
Everybody deals with stress and anxiety however our anxieties can sometimes get the best of us. It’s important to know how to cope with your anxieties and fears if they get out of control.
With this in mind, here are some tips that a person can use to help manage their daily stresses and anxieties.
1. Take a break: Sometimes, we get stressed out when everything happens all at once. When this happens, a person should take a deep breath and try to find something to do for a few minutes to get their mind off of the problem. A person could take a walk, listen to some music, read the newspaper, or do an activity that will give them a fresh perspective on things.
2. Carry a small notebook of positive statements with you: Whenever you come across an affirmation that makes you feel good, write it down in a small notebook and carry it around in your pocket. Whenever you feel anxious, open up your small notebook and read those statements.
3: You can’t predict the future: While the consequences of a particular fear may seem real, there are usually other factors that cannot be anticipated and can affect the results of any situation. We may be ninety-nine percent correct in predicting the future, but all it takes is for that one percent to make a world of difference.
4. Challenge your negative thinking with positive statements and realistic thinking: When encountering thoughts that make you fearful or depressed, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense. Focus on the reality of your situation and not on your thoughts.
5. Divide your activities into separate steps: When facing a current or upcoming task that overwhelms you with a lot of anxiety, divide the task into a series of smaller steps and then complete each of the smaller tasks one step at a time. Completing these smaller activities will make the stress more manageable and increases your chances of success.
6. Take advantage of the help that is available around you: If possible, talk to a professional who can help you manage your depression and anxieties. They will be able to provide you with additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem.
Stan Popovich is the author of the popular managing fear book, “A Layman’s Guide To Managing Fear”. For more information about Stan’s book and to get some free mental health advice, please visit Stan’s website at http://www.managingfear.com
Article | February 12, 2021
Social media has become a powerful tool to connect people with friends, relatives, family, and other loved ones. Worldwide, around 4.2 billion people are actively using the internet. Among them, 3 billion are regularly active on social media channels. Social media is not just about interpersonal conversations; at least 80 percent of users follow one business on Instagram. With all the ads on your Facebook news feed, you connect with various brands or become aware about many brands. But does social media in healthcare make any impact?
Almost all industries have started to realize the power of social media and how it can impact connecting with consumers. Various social media platforms help companies share information, increase brand awareness, and partner with industry influencers. Social media has overpowered traditional marketing strategies. Social media has become the wave of the future.
Regarding the uptake of social media, the healthcare industry has been a bit slower. However, the industry now has accepted the undeniable importance of social media in healthcare. The reluctance might have been due to the risks associated for the providers as well as patients. Privacy and confidentiality of patient information has to be maintained always. Those were the challenges of social media in healthcare. However, consumers can get information from social media faster than any other tool.
The Healthcare industry includes both the healthcare technology providers as well as the healthcare service providers. Whether you are a service provider or a technology provider, social media can impact your customers equally. This article discusses the positive effects and benefits of social media in healthcare, especially healthcare service providers.
Embraced by the Medical Community
The healthcare industry took notice of social media when government agencies and other business industries started to reap the benefits of social media. A recent survey revealed an interesting fact about the use of social media in healthcare. More than 1500 healthcare providers around the US have social media presence online. Hospitals miss key opportunities if they don’t use social media. These hospital systems have started effectively using social media to reach out to their past, current, and future patients. Social media in healthcare is an easy medium to share vital information with consumers and patients in the industry.
The survey also revealed that more than 30% of medical professionals use various social media platforms to network with their peers. Many physicians also use these social media platforms for multiple activities in open forums. Having an active online presence evokes transparency among clients and peers. Healthcare providers can join various platforms such as Twitter to become healthcare influencers. Through social media in healthcare, providers can make connections, engage the community, and explore the industry.
The Case of Cleveland Clinic, Ohio
Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, US is the best example of how social media can be used to reach out to patients, engage them online, and stay ahead of competitors. They have more than 2 million followers on Facebook, 1.9 million followers on Twitter, and around 5 lack followers on LinkedIn. They have very different and unique social media strategies. They do post about whatever happens on the campus, including doctors practicing in their respective departments and interactive sessions with doctors and HODs, etc. Also, they do provide health tips and information, general health advice, and updates on the latest medical technologies and treatments. Apart from these, the hospital also reaches out to patients for queries and feedback through social media and responds to them promptly. These effective social media strategies help them in building up a brand, reputation management, create a patient relationship and build patient loyalty.
Loved by Healthcare Consumers
To find advice and new treatments, healthcare consumers widely use social media. This creates an opportunity for providers to connect with consumers through various forms of healthcare educational content. More than 40 percent of consumers believe that social media in healthcare affects their wellness decisions and health. Among 18 to 24 years old, 90 percent of people trust the medical information they get on social media. This shows the importance of healthcare providers on social media channels.
Mobile healthcare is expanding as consumers depend more on the internet for information. Countless fitness and health apps are available online. However, many of them are not effective and do not cure diseases but can change behaviors. Having an app will help you increase your accountability, as a provider, among consumers.
Positive Impact of Social Media on Healthcare
The healthcare community is widely embracing the scope of social media in healthcare. Healthcare technology providers, hospitals, and other service providers are opening new accounts to create a consistent image among consumers. There are many ways to improve care by reaching out to patients through social media in healthcare. Some of the positive impacts of best practices for social media in healthcare are as follows:
Increasing Access Across Generations
Healthcare companies have almost stopped employing the traditional ways of advertising. Patients always need quick access to information to reduce the risk of getting flu or to find new providers, including baby boomers, every generation is online. According to Forbes, as of 2017, 9 percent of Facebook users were above 55 years of age. This present generation is very tech-savvy, they search online for local healthcare services and healthcare information. They use Facebook and YouTube. So, you need to create a marketing strategy that targets baby boomers.
Generation X also searches health-related topics online, which accounts for 1.5 billion views on YouTube each day. As they care for children and aging parents, they may search for the best long-term care facilities, how to soothe a colicky baby, and so much more. As millennials are focused on healthy living and being cost-conscious, they depend more on social media platforms for healthcare information. Ninety-three percent of millennials say that they do not rely on healthcare providers for preventive health information.
Thus, as everyone goes online for healthcare information, healthcare service providers should consider the role of social media in healthcare seriously. By providing reliable and accurate information, healthcare providers can engage with consumers and increase the patient experience through social media.
The days that the patients trust doctors blindly have gone. Healthcare consumers have become smarter and want to have relationships with providers who care for them. Allowing your tech-savvy employees to share videos and pictures of events or office helps have a human touch. It also improves patient engagement and overall patient satisfaction.
If patients know the people in your reception or nurses of respective departments, it helps them relax, engage, and makes them share their health history more openly. This is possible as they connect with those in the office through your social media in healthcare. It increases your authenticity.
Keeping an Eye on Competitors
Administrators and marketers keep an eye on their competitors through their social media platforms. They evaluate pain points, community involvements, service lines, and marketing strategies sitting in their offices. Hospitals and other providers can quickly get feedback on technologies and marketing strategies the competitors are using. This would help them if they want to incorporate these things in their care process before investing.
You can take note of the social media platforms where your competitors are performing well. This approach to social media in healthcare would remove the possibility of failure with your social media strategy, especially when you begin with it.
During emergencies and other situations, social media in healthcare allows you to communicate quickly. Social media updates can provide life-saving information, from crisis alerts to census notifications. World Health Organization (WHO) is an excellent example; they provide real-time information to the masses regarding any health crisis, warnings, and other critical safety information during disasters, using social media, especially Twitter.
Similarly, by providing real-time information to your consumers through your social media channels, you can increase your authenticity, authority, and dependency. Real-time access to information saves lives.
Patients often want to communicate with their doctors quickly. They may need to share something about a recent appointment or about a reaction they had to medication. Making patients provide feedback on social media helps you learn how they feel about their medicine and care.
You can get essential feedback that might help you improve your care. It also helps you recognize and reward the staff that the consumers recognize. As a provider, you can also get back to them for additional information after the feedback you get from them on social media. This possibility of social media in healthcare will work more to provide better care next time.
Social Media for the Future
Social media in healthcare is going to stay here and have advancements from time to time. Most of the modern consumers are tech-savvy and want to have everything at their fingertips. Modern patients have no patience. Therefore, social media works to engage patients and enhance the patient experience and satisfaction.
Whether you are a large service provider, a solo practitioner, or run a hospital, you need a social media presence. For engaging with your community, social media in healthcare helps a lot. It can make an impact beyond your imagination. Use these strategies to improve the quality of the healthcare you provide.
It may be a tiresome job to do it all alone. We, at Media7, provide social media services to engage your consumers. Whether you are a service provider or a technology provider, we are here to help you with our compelling social media strategies. We help healthcare companies generate leads, brand themselves, increase sales, and make them your happy customers. For more details about us, visit https://media7.com/.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using social media in health care?
When used cautiously, social media can provide clear benefits, such as clinical education, professional networking, and patient’s health promotion. However, there can be disadvantages too, including privacy and confidentiality of patients, resulting in formidable consequences.
How has social media influenced the marketing of health care?
For establishing public awareness and managing reputation, social media is practical means. As part of an effective marketing plan, social media has become an essential medium for healthcare professionals to interact with consumers and engage them.
What is the Importance of Social Media in the hospital?
By providing important and general information on healthcare, hospitals can make their presence more valuable to consumers. Encouraging patients to share their feedback and thoughts makes hospitals connect with them and improve the care process.
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