The Key Ingredient in Healthcare Compliance Success

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.

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The Regents of the University of California, on behalf of the University of California, Irvine, has entered into a definitive agreement with Tenet Healthcare Corporation to acquire Tenet's Pacific Coast Network. The network will become part of UCI Health, the clinical enterprise of UC Irvine. "UC Irvine has deepened its healthcare commitment to the future of Orange County, our region and California," said UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman. "This journey in healthcare is deeply intertwined with the University of California's dedication to bettering our communities, expanding access to premier healthcare, and pioneering the medical innovations of tomorrow, today. Our vision will bridge gaps in regional care and reinforce UCI's place among the nation's leading academic health systems while advancing solutions to challenges facing healthcare." Pending customary regulatory approvals, clearances, and closing conditions, the proposed acquisition would bring four medical centers in Lakewood, Los Alamitos, Fountain Valley and Placentia and associated outpatient locations into the UCI Health system. UCI Health currently delivers care at UCI Medical Center in Orange and a growing network of multispecialty care centers. "At UCI Health, we are excited to add these new care sites to the UCI Health network and extend the benefits of our compassionate, high-level care, clinical innovation, and scientific discovery," said Chad Lefteris, president and chief executive officer of UCI Health. "As Orange County's only academic health system, UCI Health is unique in its ability to offer the highest level of advanced care powered by the research and innovation of a world-class public research institution." UCI Health recognizes a unique opportunity to build on the quality care already being delivered in the communities served by Tenet Healthcare's Pacific Coast Network. "These four hospitals are well-regarded in their communities for providing high-quality, compassionate care," said Saum Sutaria, M.D., chairman and chief executive officer of Tenet Healthcare. "The local communities will benefit from the nationally recognized advancements, medical knowledge, research, and community focus that UCI Health brings as an innovative academic health system. UCI Health recognizes a unique opportunity to build on the quality care already being delivered in the communities served by the Pacific Coast Network." In a region with a population greater than that of two dozen states, UCI Health operates the only Level I trauma center, locally based National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal-neonatal service and is the largest regional burn center and leading provider of complex tertiary and quaternary care. The system's clinical excellence has consistently placed UCI Health in the top 10 for quality and safety among the nation's leading comprehensive academic health systems. The acquisition also means more patients will have access to advanced therapies in the region's largest and most diverse portfolio of clinical trials, ranging from cancer to neurosciences, digestive diseases, orthopedics and internal medicine specialties. UCI Health and Tenet Healthcare's Pacific Coast Network patients can continue receiving care at their local facilities as they normally would from the care teams they know and trust. The transaction is expected to be completed in spring 2024, subject to customary regulatory approvals, clearances, and closing conditions. "It is a privilege to provide world-class care to Californians and we are excited to welcome the clinicians and co-workers from these Tenet Healthcare sites to UCI Health as partners in improving the health of local communities," Lefteris said. About UCI Health UCI Health is the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine, and the only academic health system in Orange County. Patients can access UCI Health at primary and specialty care offices across Orange County and at its main campus, UCI Medical Center in Orange, Calif. The 459-bed, acute care hospital, listed among America's Best Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for 23 consecutive years, provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, behavioral health and rehabilitation services. UCI Medical Center is home to Orange County's only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center, gold level 1 geriatric emergency department and regional burn center. About UC Irvine About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation's top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced five Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 37,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It's located in one of the world's safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County's second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. About Tenet Healthcare Tenet Healthcare Corporation is a diversified healthcare services company headquartered in Dallas. Our care delivery network includes United Surgical Partners International, the largest ambulatory platform in the country, which operates or has ownership interests in more than 480 ambulatory surgery centers and surgical hospitals. We also operate 58 acute care and specialty hospitals, approximately 110 other outpatient facilities, a network of leading employed physicians and a global business center in Manila, Philippines. Our Conifer Health Solutions subsidiary provides revenue cycle management and value-based care services to hospitals, health systems, physician practices, employers, and other clients. Across the Tenet enterprise, we are united by our mission to deliver quality, compassionate care in the communities we serve.

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Health Technology

Beckman Coulter Unveils DxC 500 AU Chemistry Analyzer, Expanding Portfolio with Proven Six Sigma Performance

Beckman Coulter Diagnostics | January 30, 2024

Beckman Coulter Diagnostics, a clinical diagnostics leader, will unveil its new DxC 500 AU Chemistry Analyzer, an automated clinical chemistry analyzer, at Medlab Middle East in Dubai, taking place February 5-8, 2024. The DxC 500 AU Chemistry Analyzer is one of several recent Beckman Coulter solutions designed to address the complete needs of healthcare systems that are looking to complement central hub laboratories by advancing the technology and capabilities of satellite and independent hospital laboratories. "Healthcare systems around the world are strategically adopting hub-and-spoke models for better efficiency and healthcare access," said Kathleen Orland, Senior Vice President, Business Unit, General Manager, Chemistry and Immunoassay for Beckman Coulter Diagnostics. "Hub-and-spoke clinical laboratory models optimize resources to improve access to testing services and enhance overall standardization for quality testing and positive impact on inventory and cost management across a health system. The new DxC 500 AU Chemistry Analyzer advances capabilities of spoked labs with a broad menu of high-quality assays that deliver consistent, commutable results across Beckman Coulter's AU clinical chemistry systems, positively impacting clinical decision-making and patient outcomes." The DxC 500 AU Chemistry Analyzer features advanced automation technology, onboard guided workflows, and standardized reagents for use across healthcare networks. Its menu of more than 120 assays has been independently and objectively verified for high quality Six Sigma performance, supporting confidence in clinical results, reducing QC trouble shooting and lab operational costs. "Our Six Sigma assessment has shown that the DxC 500 AU analyzer easily exceeds the demands of the new, more stringent CLIA 2024 performance specifications," stated Sten Westgard, Director of Client Services and Technology for Westgard QC. The DxC 500 AU Chemistry Analyzer is for in vitro diagnostic use only. It is available throughout North America and the Middle East. Global commercial availability is planned for March 2024. About Beckman Coulter. Inc. A global leader in advanced diagnostics, Beckman Coulter has challenged convention to elevate the diagnostic laboratory's role in improving patient health for more than 80 years. Our mission is to Relentlessly Reimagine Healthcare, One Diagnosis at a Time – and we do this by applying the power of science, technology and the passion and creativity of our teams. Our diagnostic solutions are used in complex clinical testing, and are found in hospitals, reference laboratories and physician office settings around the globe. We exist to deliver smarter, faster diagnostic solutions that move the needle forward from what's now to what's next. We seek to accelerate care with an extensive clinical menu, scalable lab automation technologies, insightful clinical informatics, and optimize lab performance services. Headquartered in Brea, Calif., with more than 11,000 global team members, Beckman Coulter Diagnostics is proud to be part of Danaher. Danaher is a global science and technology leader. Together we combine our capabilities to accelerate the real-life impact of tomorrow's science and technology to improve human health. ©2024 Beckman Coulter. All rights reserved. Beckman Coulter, the stylized logo, and the Beckman Coulter product and service marks mentioned herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of Beckman Coulter, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

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