Logicalis Global Survey: Digital Brings Fresh Challenges for Three-Fourths of CIOs

Solution Provider Says Distributed IT, Shadow IT Departments, and Data Security Risks Are Top of Mind for IT Leaders as Businesses Respond to Threats from Digital Disrupters Worldwide

NEW YORK, October 24, 2016 – A new study by Logicalis, an international IT solutions and managed services provider (www.us.logicalis.com), examined the significant challenges facing CIOs worldwide as they enable businesses in every market segment to respond to threats posed by digital disrupters like Uber and Airbnb.  The 2016 Logicalis Global CIO Survey, now in its fourth year, polled over 700 CIOs worldwide. According to the survey, distributed IT, shadow IT departments and data security are among the biggest issues facing CIOs today. Download a copy of the report, “Digital Enablers: The Challenges Facing CIOs in an Age of Digital Transformation,” here: http://ow.ly/sRjQ305o2f1.

The Logicalis study also revealed that the pace of digital transformation is gathering speed with 73 percent of firms around the world, to some extent, now calling themselves “digitally enabled.” Overall, the survey showed that digital adoption conforms to an innovation bell curve in which:

  • Digitally enabled innovators, or digital disrupters, now account for 7 percent of businesses.
  • Early adopters comprise 22 percent of businesses worldwide.
  • An early majority accounts for 45 percent of firms, while 22 percent fall into the late majority category.
  • And laggards, or those not digitally enabled at all, account for just 5 percent of businesses around the globe.

“This speaks both to the huge benefits that digital transformation brings,” says Mark Rogers, Chief Executive Officer, Logicalis Group, “but also to the scale of the challenge posed by digital disrupters and early transformers – while such a rapid transformation almost certainly means big changes for CIOs and IT departments.”

Big Challenges for CIOs

This rapidly changing environment does indeed pose big challenges for CIOs, the survey found.  CIOs have, for instance, less control over IT spending than ever before – 40 percent of CIOs now say they make 50 percent or fewer of their companies’ IT spending decisions.

This trend is also reflected in the frequency with which CIOs are bypassed altogether – with line of business buying technology without involving IT at all.  The proportion reporting that this happens often, very often or most of the time has risen from 29 percent in 2015 to 39 percent in 2016.

Distributed IT and the Shadow IT Department

One result of this loss of control is a move away from centralized IT, with more and more CIOs now operating in “distributed” IT environments.  Perhaps surprisingly, this decentralization of IT, which is a natural extension of “shadow IT,” is no longer seen as subversive, however, and is instead viewed as a positive and essential element of digital transformation.

For example, though the vast majority of CIOs (83 percent) report that line of business departments now employ IT people whose role is to support business function-specific software, applications and cloud services – essentially acting as shadow IT departments – CIOs seem content to work with them.  In fact, more than one-fifth of the world’s IT leaders (22 percent) report working with these “shadow IT departments” on a daily basis, while 41 percent report doing so at least weekly.

“The challenge for IT departments and CIOs is to find ways to support these specialists effectively,” says Vince DeLuca, Chief Executive Officer, Logicalis US, “securing the infrastructure, applications and vital data without stifling the ‘shadow innovation’ their skills support.”

Security Challenges

Together, the combination of the Internet of Things (IoT), distributed IT, and the increased pervasiveness of applications into the very core of the business – along with an ever-evolving threat landscape – represents a perfect security storm.

As a result, the CIOs surveyed cited security as far and away the biggest challenge related to the increased use of cloud services.  More than three quarters (78 percent) pointed to security as a challenge, with related issues like data sovereignty (47 percent) and local data regulations (37 percent) coming in second and third.

Looking at security threats in more detail, CIOs expect the prevalence of increasingly sophisticated threats (61 percent) to be the No. 1 issue for the next 12 months, while issues like ransomware and corporate extortion were highlighted by more than half (56 percent).

Looking Outside for Help

The sheer range of issues facing CIOs as a result of their organizations’ digital transformation means the pressure to hand off day-to-day technology management, to focus on strategy, and to reframe IT departments as internal service providers is now greater than ever.

In response, CIOs are increasingly seeking partner-led and partner-delivered services.  This year, one-fourth (24 percent) of the CIOs surveyed say they outsource most (more than 50 percent) of their IT, while the number outsourcing none or just 10 percent of their IT has dropped dramatically – falling respectively to 9 percent (compared to 13 percent in 2015) and 19 percent (compared to 26 percent in 2015).

“As digital innovation accelerates, the winners will create new customer experiences, make faster and better decisions through smarter collaboration, and create new digital business models and revenue streams securely,” Rogers says. “CIOs and IT leaders can play a leading role in enabling that innovation, drawing on skills from insightful partners to help shape their businesses and lead their sectors through the application of digital technologies.  I am delighted that Logicalis is already helping clients to plan their digital journeys, releasing the creativity that runs through their workforces and using digital technology to deliver outstanding results.”

About Logicalis

Logicalis is an international multi-skilled solution provider providing digital enablement services to help customers harness digital technology and innovative services to deliver powerful business outcomes.

Our customers cross industries and geographical regions; our focus is to engage in the dynamics of our customers’ vertical markets including financial services, TMT (telecommunications, media and technology), education, healthcare, retail, government, manufacturing and professional services, and to apply the skills of our 4,000 employees in modernizing key digital pillars, data center and cloud services, security and network infrastructure, workspace communications and collaboration, data and information strategies, and IT operation modernization.

We are the advocates for our customers for some of the world’s leading technology companies including Cisco, HPE, IBM, NetApp, Microsoft, VMware and ServiceNow.

The Logicalis Group has annualized revenues of over $1.5 billion from operations in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific. It is a division of Datatec Limited, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the AIM market of the LSE, with revenues of over $6.5 billion.

For more information, visit www.us.logicalis.com.

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Access To Electronic Health Data Saves Money In Emergency Department

A new research study has found that emergency department patients benefit from having their electronic health records available when they’re being treated. Researchers found that when health information was available electronically, the patient’s care was speeded up, and that it also generated substantial cost savings.

Researchers with the University of Michigan School of Public Health reviewed the emergency department summaries from 4,451 adult and pediatric ED visits for about one year, examining how different forms of health data accessibility affected patients.

In 80% of the cases, the emergency department had to have all or part of the patient’s medical records faxed to the hospital where they were being treated. In the other 20% of the cases, however, where the ED staff had access to a patient’s complete electronic health record, they were seen much more quickly and treatment was often more efficient.

Specifically, the researchers found that when information requests from outside organizations were returned electronically instead of by fax, doctors saw that information an hour faster, which cut a patient’s time in the ED by almost 53 minutes.

This, in turn, seems to have reduced physicians’ use of MRIs, x-rays and CT scans by 1.6% to 2.5%, as well as lowering the likelihood of hospital admission by 2.4%. The researchers also found that average cost for care were $1,187 lower when information was delivered electronically.

An interesting side note to the study is that when information was made available electronically on patients, it was supplied through Epic’s Care Everywhere platform, which is reportedly used in about 20% of healthcare systems nationwide. Apparently, the University of Michigan Health System (which hosted the study) doesn’t belong to an HIE.

While I’m not saying that there’s anything untoward about this, I wasn’t surprised to find principal author Jordan Everson, a doctoral candidate in health services at the school, is a former Epic employee. He would know better than most how Epic’s health data sharing technology works.

From direct experience, I can state that Care Everywhere isn’t necessarily used or even understood by employees of some major health systems in my geographic location, and perhaps not configured right even when health systems attempt to use it. This continues to frustrate leaders at Epic, who emphasize time and again that this platform exists, and that is used quite actively by many of its customers.

But the implications of the study go well beyond the information sharing tools U-M Health System uses. The more important takeaway from the study is that this is quantitative evidence that having electronic data immediately available makes clinical and financial sense (at least from the patient perspective). If that premise was ever in question, this study does a lot to support it. Clearly, making it quick and easy for ED doctors to get up to speed makes a concrete difference in patient care.

Posted in health information exchange, HIE, Hospital EHR, Hospital EHR Company, Hospital EHR Vendor, Hospital Electronic Health Record, Hospital Electronic Medical Record, Hospital EMR, Hospital EMR Company, Hospital EMR Vendor, Hospital Healthcare IT, Hospital IT Systems, Hospital Patient Flow | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Access To Electronic Health Data Saves Money In Emergency Department

A Patient Engagement Company Could Be Anything

I’ve been spending the past couple days at the Connected Health Symposium in Boston. After talking to hundreds of people I was realizing my problem with companies saying that they are a patient engagement company. If you tell me you’re a patient engagement company, then I have no idea what you do.

The same isn’t true for an EHR company. If you say that you’re an EHR company, then I know that you’re helping doctors chart electronically. Sure, some people have used that term incorrectly or have executed poorly, but we all basically know what a company is doing if they’re an EHR company. Same is true for revenue cycle management companies and practice management software vendors.

The same can’t be said for patient engagement companies. If you say that you do patient engagement, that could literally be anything. In fact, is every company a patient engagement company?

I think we should banish the term patient engagement when describing a company. Instead, companies should tell us how they’re engaging the patient. Then, we can have an idea of what you’re doing and be able to understand how you fit into the healthcare ecosystem.

Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t engage patients. Absolutely not. We 100% should be doing patient engagement. However, there are 1000s of ways that we can engage patients and many of them don’t involve technology at all. Those can all be great things, but it’s not a category of software companies.

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Are CIOs Now Vendor Management Organizations?

Over my past 11 years blogging on healthcare IT, I’ve seen a dramatic shift in the role a CIO plays in healthcare organizations. This was highlighted really well to me in a recent interview I did with Steve Prather, CEO of Dizzion. He commented that hospital CIOs are now mostly vendor management organizations.

I thought this was the perfect way to describe the shift. One challenge with this shift is that many hospital CEOs haven’t realized that this is what’s happening. In many hospital executives minds, the CIO is still generating code, implementing servers, network switches, rolling out desktops, and cabling. In most cases, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, the CIO still has to make sure there’s a high quality network, servers, and desktops, but that does little to describe the work a CIO actually does.

Instead of getting into the nitty gritty, most CIOs have become professional vendor managers. This has become the reality as most of what people think of IT (servers, desktop, networks, email, etc) have become commodity services. There’s very little strategic advantage to do these things in-house. They’ve become such commodity services that it costs much less to outsource many of these services to an outside vendor.

What does this mean for the CIO? Instead of being Microsoft or Cisco certified, they need to be well versed in relationship management. That’s a big shift in philosophy and a very different skill set. In fact, most people who have those type of tech skills and certification are people that can struggle with relationships. There are exceptions, but that’s generally the case. CIOs that can’t handle relationships are going to suffer going forward.

Lest we think that this is a change that’s specific to healthcare, it’s not. This shifting CIO role is happening across every industry. In fact, it highlights why it’s not a bad idea to consider CIOs from outside of healthcare. If you can’t find a CIO who has healthcare experience, you could still find a great CIO from outside healthcare as long as they have the right relationship management skills.

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Fourth Annual Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference Opens Registration

The fourth annual Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference (HITMC) 2017, hosted by HealthcareScene.com, announced today that registration is now open to the healthcare information technology marketing and public relations community. The event takes place April 5-7 at the SLS Las Vegas Hotel.

“This year’s HITMC will be more interactive than ever before. Dozens of hands-on, comprehensive sessions presented by leading thinkers in healthcare IT marketing and PR are already booked,” said John Lynn, editor and founder of the nationally renowned blog network HealthcareScene.com. “Over three power-packed days, hundreds of our industry’s sharpest minds will gain the latest intelligence in content marketing, marketing automation, event marketing, public relations, branding and much more. Just as important is the rare opportunity to network and collaborate with peers.”

Register before Nov. 1 to take advantage of early-bird savings of $500.

The Call for Speakers also will remain open through Oct. 31, offering an opportunity for top pros to share expertise and practical takeaways for success, while gaining exposure and credibility as industry forerunners. The HITMC 2016 conference schedule included sessions such as a storytelling workshop on writing “killer” case studies, innovation practices in social media content creation, relevant digital marketing strategies, best practices in marketing measurement, and the “secret sauce” of successful go-to market strategies. The HITMC 2017 conference will build on those sessions.

“HITMC is a conference like no other. It is a unique gathering of health IT marketing insiders where you learn the latest industry trends, swap best practices and share success stories,” noted Colin Hung, vice president of marketing at Stericycle Communication Solutions. “This is the only conference where you can connect with healthcare IT marketing peers in a relaxed yet educational setting. I always come away from HITMC inspired and energized.”

Health IT PR professionals also gain insights during the three-day event. “I’ve attended many conferences, but HITMC is the most relevant one for me and the work I do on a day-to-day basis as a healthcare PR professional. Plus, I was able to share valuable takeaways with my team,” said Tara Auclair, senior marketing communications manager at Modernizing Medicine.

HITMC 2017 sponsors currently committed include: Studio North, Official Media Sponsor AgencyTen22, Dodge Communications,Lumeno Marketing, Aria Marketing, ClarityQuest Marketing, Anderson Interactive and NPC Creative Services, LLC. “More sponsors are expected to join the list,” said Lynn. “We’re tremendously grateful to these stellar organizations for their generous support.”

For those interested in sponsoring the event, browse the full list of sponsor opportunities or check out the sponsorship matrix for a quick view of the options.

“Agency Ten22 is honored to be the official media partner for HITMC 2017—the healthcare IT industry’s only exclusive event for marketing and PR professionals employed by agencies, vendors or consultants,” said Beth Friedman, founder and president of Agency Ten22. “HITMC is the must-attend event for my staff to learn new insights—whether creating superior online presence and meaningful content, maximizing digital platforms, measuring efforts or improving media pitching. HITMC helps us all achieve our clients’ marketing and public relations goals!”

Healthcare Scene is a network of influential healthcare IT blogs and health IT career resources that cover everything from electronic health records to mobile health. Healthcare Scene has published nearly 11,000 blog posts, accruing 18 million views and approximately 50,000 email subscribers. Healthcare Scene is the proud organizer of the annual Health IT Marketing and PR Conference.

To learn more about the event, visit HealthITMarketingConference.com and register to attend.

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Integrating CDI Efforts Across Inpatient and Outpatient – HIM Scene

This post is part of the HIM Series of blog posts. If you’d like to receive future HIM posts in your inbox, you can subscribe to future HIM Scene posts here.

One of the main topics HIM professionals have been discussing for a couple years is around CDI (Clinical Documentation Improvement). These programs have taken all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some are completely human driven. Others are largely tech driven, but most are a mix of the two. In fact, most CDI programs have gotten quite sophisticated and are really impacting the bottom line of healthcare organizations.

While most healthcare organizations realize that there are benefits to CDI, most of them have restricted these programs to the inpatient environment only. This was illustrated to me really well when I ran into a transcription vendor from India. It was his first time attending AHIMA and he was considering new areas of business including CDI. When we talked about CDI, his first comment was that he’d only ever seen CDI in hospitals, not in the ambulatory world.

While this is the case today, one HIM expert at AHIMA told me that one of the next big frontiers for CDI is going to be outpatient CDI. She went on to tell me that it’s fertile ground that could really benefit every healthcare organization. However, she also suggested that there shouldn’t be two CDI programs: 1 for inpatient and 1 for outpatient. Instead, CDI should be an integrated effort across inpatient and outpatient.

Clinical documentation improvement is only going to become more important in healthcare. Certainly, most CDI projects were started as a way to improve reimbursement. That’s a good goal and a benefit of a high quality CDI project. However, over time CDI is going to become even more important to an organization’s value based reimbursement efforts. In fact, if your clinical documentation isn’t accurate your reimbursement will really suffer. How can you keep a patient healthy if you’ve documented the wrong information for a patient?

How is your organization approaching CDI? Are you doing CDI in both inpatient and outpatient?

If you’d like to receive future HIM posts in your inbox, you can subscribe to future HIM Scene posts here.

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KHIN and HIETexas establish connection; enhance medical care across state lines

TOPEKA, Kan. – October 18, 2016 – Kansas Health Information Network (KHIN) has expanded its horizons, as well as connections, to the South.

Kansas Health Information Network (KHIN), renowned as one of the largest, most successful Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) in the country announced that it is now connected to Health Information Exchange Texas (HIETexas), a “network of networks,” made available by the Texas Health Services Authority (THSA). THSA connects local HIEs within Texas to each other and with networks across the nation through the eHealth Exchange.

“KHIN is pleased to connect to HIETexas through the eHealth Exchange which is a secure, nationwide connectivity network,” said Laura McCrary, Ed.D and Executive Director of KHIN. “Many Kansas patients receive care in Texas. This connection helps to ensure that Texas physicians have all of the patients’ health records from Kansas and vice versa.”

There are several hospitals and clinics in Texas that are now connected to KHIN. This not only benefits patients who have or will receive care in both Texas and Kansas, it also helps Kansas and Texas providers meet the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requirements for Meaningful Use.

“The connection between HIETexas and KHIN will enhance medical care by connecting hundreds of hospitals and thousands of doctors across state lines,” said George Gooch, Chief Executive Officer of THSA. “Many Kansas residents travel to Texas for advanced medical treatments at one of the state’s world-class medical facilities and this connection will allow those patients’ healthcare providers to have immediate access to information they need to make better informed decisions.”

“This critical health information improves patient safety and reduces duplicative tests as Texas physicians know what healthcare a patient has already received in Kansas,” said McCrary. “We are looking forward to completing our next eHealth Exchange connection with the Veteran’s Administration.”

About Kansas Health Information Network (KHIN)

KHIN’s mission is to improve health care quality, coordination and efficiency through the exchange of health information at the point of care utilizing a secure electronic network provided by a collaboration of health care organizations. KHIN is a provider led 501(c)3. It draws users from a broad geographical area and aligns with state data sources to support cost effective delivery of services. It supports and integrates with community and medical trading area efforts to drive care coordination and workflow changes creating a climate to encourage innovation. Its goals are to ensure providers, patients and communities have long-term access to cost effective, sustainable health information exchange aligned with costs distributed across a broad user base. It also encourages and removes barriers so communities and regions can focus on quality improvement, patient centered medical home and entrepreneurial strategies that effect local health outcomes. For more information, visit www.khinonline.org.

About Texas Health Services Authority (THSA)

The Texas Health Services Authority is responsible for coordinating the implementation of health information exchange (HIE) in Texas. The THSA was created by the Texas legislature in 2007 as a public-private partnership, legally structured as a non-profit corporation, to support the improvement of the Texas health care system by promoting and coordinating HIE and health information technology throughout the state to ensure that the right information is available to the right health care providers at the right times. For more information, visit www.HIETexas.org.

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Should You Buy Pop Health Tools And EMRs From One Vendor?

According to a new story appearing in HealthITAnalytics, EMR vendors are increasingly moving into the population health management space. In fact, according to an IDC Research market report featured in the story, the lines between the EMR and population health management marketplaces are beginning to blur, with vendors offering products tackling both documentation and patient management.

While this is not news to anyone who’s attended a major industry tradeshow in the last few years, the extent of the transition might be. Apparently, half of the top population health management vendors featured by IDC – including athenahealth, eClinicalWorks and Allscripts — also offer EMR platforms. (According to HealthITAnalytics, other pop health vendors identified as leaders by IDC include Wellcentive, Medecision, Optum and IBM Phytel.)

Cynthia Burghard, Research Director with IDC Health Insights, says that providers want to integrate patient management and big data analytics to support their ACO deals and meet tregulatory requirements. In an IDC press release, she notes that providers need to manage both clinical and financial outcomes to survive under value-based reimbursement.

While all of this makes sense to me on paper, I’d like to raise a question here. Does buying both your EMR and your pop health tool from the same vendor have a meaningful downside? I’d argue that it might.

Yes, from a high level, buying an EMR and population health management engine from the same vendor is a good idea. In theory, the two are likely to work together more effectively than two platforms from two separate vendors, as there’s unlikely to be any conflict between the purposes of the EMR and the purposes of the population health tool.

But in practice, it’s worth bearing in mind that we haven’t yet evolved a standard feature set or business model for managing patients at the population level (though you might be interested in some of these emerging best practices). So this is a far bigger risk than buying, for example, a practice management tool and an EMR from the same vendor — after all, practice management software has been around long enough that it’s fairly standardized.

On the other hand, if you buy a population health tool and an EMR from, say, Allscripts, you’re buying not only technology but their view of how population health management should be done. And the two platforms are somewhat, for lack of a better word, inbred if they try to cover your entire scope of patient management. Whatever blind spots the EMR may have, the pop health management platform may have as well.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that while it makes great business sense for the vendors to offer both EMR and pop health products, it’s not necessarily in the provider’s interests to pile both of those products onto their infrastructure. At this stage, I’d argue, it’s worth preserving your flexibility, even if you spend more or have to work harder to develop the business logic you need on the population health side.

But I’m willing to change my mind. Readers, what do you think?

Posted in ACO, Healthcare Big Data, Hospital EHR, Hospital EHR Company, Hospital EHR Consulting, Hospital EHR Vendor, Hospital Electronic Health Record, Hospital Electronic Medical Record, Hospital EMR, Hospital EMR Vendor, Hospital Healthcare IT, Hospital IT Systems, Value Based Reimbursement | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Should You Buy Pop Health Tools And EMRs From One Vendor?

Verisma Launches First Online Request App Tailored to Patients and Requestors

Verisma Request App (VRA) Simplifies the Medical Records Request Process for Patients

Washington, D.C., September 13, 2016Verisma, the leader in release of information (ROI) automation systems for the healthcare industry, today announced the launch of an industry first – the Verisma Request App (VRA) – a self-service online request solution targeted to the specific needs of not just patients, but all types of requestors. VRA gives healthcare providers an additional tool for improving patient satisfaction by making the medical records request process available 24/7.  Ultimately VRA will facilitate not only automated requests but also automated fulfillment of requests.

Verisma is taking a phased approach to launching the new app. VRA Phase I focuses on patient access, specifically requests for medical records by patients and patient representatives. Via the hospital’s website or patient portal, patients and their representatives complete an intuitive online authorization form that replaces the current process of completing the form by hand and mailing it, faxing it, or delivering it to the provider. From the provider’s perspective, VRA helps drive traffic to the patient portal.

One of the challenges with paper authorization forms is they don’t educate the patients and their representatives about what they are signing. Patients and their representatives may not understand what it means to authorize the release of sensitive information such as that relating to mental health and substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, genetic testing, or STDs. VRA helps providers mitigate this risk by including easy-to-understand, customizable descriptions with hyperlinks to additional information.

Verisma continues to strengthen its reputation as the industry leader in disclosure management security and compliance with the introduction of VRA. VRA is architected for 100% compliance with HIPAA, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA). It requires multi-factor authentication and digital signature without making the processes burdensome to the patient or the patient’s representative.

Once the patient or their representative submits the online form, the data automatically creates a transaction in Verisma Release Manager (VRM) – the company’s flagship ROI Automation offering – thereby eliminating a significant number of steps performed on the front-end by the Release of Information Specialist. Since VRM and VRA are EHR-neutral, the request is easily fulfilled regardless of where the records reside (current EHR, legacy EHR, paper, or off-site storage).

“Verisma is innovating release of information from the patient’s perspective,” explains Andrew McManus, Senior Vice President of Verisma. “With VRA, hospitals will experience substantial ROI workflow efficiencies and greater productivity for their HIM departments. VRA significantly decreases the time, and in some cases the costs, for patients to receive their records. Overall, VRA is an automated medical records request process that maintains compliance and security, and ultimately improves requestor, patient, and provider satisfaction.”

Additional features include:

  • The ability for patients to request documents from any dates of service regardless of the source of the information
  • Online guidance embedded in the form, ensuring accuracy and completeness
  • Customized branding ensuring continuity within the provider’s website or patient portal

“VRA represents a big step forward for patients seeking greater access to their medical records beyond the data points available in EHR portals,” states Linda Kloss, RHIA, a health information thought leader and member of the Verisma Strategic Advisory Board. “It is also a big advance for ROI management.  Productivity and cost control are essential in ROI today, but they can’t be achieved at the expense of compliance short cuts.”

About Verisma

Verisma is a health information technology provider focused on delivering unparalleled Release of Information (ROI) solutions to the healthcare industry. The company’s flagship ROI Automation System, Verisma® Release Manager (VRM), is utilized by well-known health care organizations nationwide. VRM automates workflow to improve turnaround times, reduce errors, and drive down costs – effectively automating medical records release while delivering comprehensive release audit capabilities. It is the only release technology with integrated HIPAA guidance and compliance review support. For additional information, please visit our website at www.verisma.com, call 866-390-7404, email solutions@verisma.com or visit us at the AHIMA National Convention in booth #2213 for a VRA demo.

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E-Patient Update: Hospitals Should Share Ransomware Updates

A few weeks ago, a California hospital quietly fended off a ransomware attack without paying a ransom to the attackers. According to Health Leaders Media, Keck Medical Center of USC was hit with a ransomware assault on servers at two hospitals, but managed to fix the problem and retrieve its data.

Employees at Keck Hospital of USC and Norris Comprehensive Cancer Care found ransomware on two servers on August 1, said Keck Hospitals CEO Rod Hanners in a statement on the matter. The attack encrypted files on the servers, which made their data unavailable to hospital employees. However, Hanners reported, the hospitals had no evidence of a breach of patient information.

Still, given that some sensitive information was contained in folders encrypted by the malware, USC notified patients about the breach, Health Leaders reports. Data that could (at least theoretically) have been accessed by the attackers included names and dates of birth, health information such as treatment and diagnosis information and some Social Security numbers.

If what I’ve read is accurate, the crew at Keck did a great job. They got things under control very quickly, and chose to do the right thing in notifying patients about the breach. (And in all truth, the attack might not have been much of a big deal — perhaps one launched by a script kiddie using Ransomware as a Service tools — which could explain why the hospitals seem to be relatively unruffled.) Still, my feeling is that they could have communicated more.

A patient’s perspective

As I ponder the events above, I do wonder whether the professionals managing this particular ransomware attack understand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a ransomware episode. So here’s a few things to consider from a patient’s perspective:

  • Ransomware is scary: While I’m healthcare technology writer and somewhat familiar with ransomware attacks, they are still new to most of the public. They may turn out to be just another infection vector for your network, but they come across as a dark force to consumers. Be prepared to educate and calm us.
  • People don’t know what to expect: I was due to have a cardiac procedure done by a doctor affiliated with Washington, D.C.-based MedStar Health a couple of weeks after it suffered a ransomware attack. While the news media made it clear that the hospital chain was paralyzed for a time, nobody bothered to tell me what the impact of this paralysis would be. It would have been better if MedStar facilities and doctors reached out to patients in immediate and near-term need of care to clarify.
  • We need progress reports: Clearly, the Keck attack didn’t amount to much, but other ransomware attacks, such as the MedStar incident, can’t be resolved overnight. As patients, we need to know roughly how long our providers may be at less than full capacity. Keep us updated or you’ll lose our trust.

With any luck, healthcare organizations will continue to improve their ability to fight back ransomware attacks, and in time, be prepared to treat them as little more than road bumps in their security efforts. But until then, it makes sense to pull out all the stops and keep patients extra well-informed.

Posted in HIPAA, Hospital CIO, Hospital EHR, Hospital Electronic Health Record, Hospital Electronic Medical Record, Hospital EMR, Hospital Healthcare IT, Hospital HIPAA, Hospital Security | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on E-Patient Update: Hospitals Should Share Ransomware Updates