hospital cybersecurity

3 Things Every Medical Professional Should Know About Cybersecurity

hospital cybersecurity

The healthcare industry faces unique and growing threats to cybersecurity, due to the amount of personal data stored on servers, and the relatively low level of cybersecurity in place for smaller healthcare facilities. The typical medical facility stores electronic health records (EHRs), employment data for thousands of individuals, and personal identity details for many healthcare employees and providers. Although larger healthcare facilities have taken additional steps to implement a multilayered security process to protect healthcare data at all levels of the organization, the abundance of information that needs to be protected, combined with less awareness of security risk in individual practices and smaller medical facilities, makes some healthcare facilities a prime target for cybercrime. If you work for a doctor’s office or a small to mid-size medical facility, or if you are thinking about pursing a career in healthcare, review the following three risks to understand how you can help your facility take steps to reduce security risk before it is too late.

The three risks that you should be aware of include:

  1. The risk of attack by ransomware.
  2. The risk of attack to medical devices.
  3. The risk of password violations and phishing attempts.

The Risk of Attack By Ransomware

Since any business can be crippled by a ransomware attack, a cyberattack that locks a medical facility out of its own records is putting patients’ lives at risk. One Ohio hospital found this out the hard way; Ohio Valley Medical Center had to turn emergency room patients away after a ransomware attack locked them out of their own systems. Because ransomware is a malicious software program that blocks users from accessing the data stored on their own computer until a “ransom,” or money is paid to unlock their computer and regain access to their own data, in the case of the Ohio Valley Medical Center security breach, ambulances were diverted and computer systems were taken offline to address the attack. This meant that if you were a patient, you would not have been able to get the care that you needed while the facility struggled to resolve the ransomware issue. Sadly, this is not an unusual occurrence, and criminals have figured out that disrupting care is the fastest way to a quick payday when it comes to ransomware. 

The Risk of Attack to Medical Devices

Many of the devices used in a standard hospital setting are equipped with IoT based technology. This type of technology allows healthcare providers to collect data easily and to monitor patients long distance. Since these devices are directly accessing the healthcare facility’s network, they increase the risk of a cyberattack. While the use of IV stands, insulin pumps and other devices save lives, medical professionals should be aware that they are putting themselves and their patients at greater risk when using these devices. Placing these devices on a dedicated, separate network can drastically reduce the risk of a security breach. Keeping an accurate inventory of medical devices and where they are located in your facility can also help reduce the risk of attacks to your medical devices.

The Risk of Password Violations and Phishing Attempts

Providers and staff members can inadvertently increase a facility’s risk of cyberattack. From poor password choices, including options like “PASSWORD” and “QWERTY”, to a lack of awareness about phishing, employees may accidentally increase the risk of cyberattack. Scheduling online training sessions that incorporate best practices for password use, and how to recognize phishing and ransomware attempts, can drastically reduce the likelihood of responding to these cyberattacks. The IT department can also take additional steps to help protect your facility and ensure that no one without the right to access sensitive patient or employee data can get into your computer network. 

Being aware of these three risks allows you to take steps to protect your facility, contact your manager and/or help desk if something looks suspicious in terms of information access, and safeguard the data of patients as well as managers and other employees in your healthcare facility.

For more informative articles on healthcare, visit the Avidity Medical Design Blog.

To take an online course in healthcare, visit Avidity Medical Design Academy

Man working in home office

4 Things You Should Know About Virtual Medicine in 2019 (and beyond!)”

Man working in home office

The rise of the digital age continues to change the way the healthcare industry does business in 2019. Whether you’re looking to start a new career in the healthcare industry or you are looking to gain valuable knowledge and insight to further your career, some smart learning can only help. Here are a few things you should know about virtual medicine.

1. Social Media Is Key.

With the rise of social media, most major healthcare companies – and most companies across all business sectors – now know the importance of social media. Whether you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube, for example, social media helps you to stay up to date with industry trends, if you are a healthcare professional, or learn about the way surgeries are performed, learn how to connect with other healthcare professionals, or learn how to find a job if you are new to the healthcare field, for example.

2. Apps for Real-Time Online Patient Interaction.

These days, you’ll have to look pretty hard to find a business without – at least – a website and possibly an app. As the digital world evolves, it’s becoming the norm that patients are able to do everything from set appointments to viewing their medical charts all from the comfort of their home. As a medical professional in almost any position, you’ll want to be comfortable working with computers in a digital setting.

3. Telecommuting for Work.

As the cost of technology continues to go down and the percentage of people with access to the Internet goes up, telecommuting for all professions – including healthcare – will continue to rise. For you, it’s great, because you don’t have to dress up and leave home to get paid. For your employer, it’s great, because they don’t need to pay overhead. Avidity Medical Design Academy offers a course entitled, “How to Make Money in Healthcare Working From Home (Full Time!) ,” where  you can learn about careers such as medical coding, medical transcription, medical claims processing, medical writing, healthcare teaching, and healthcare customer service, for example, that allow you to work from home.

4. Online Security and the Future of Healthcare.

Last but not least, as a healthcare professional, you’ll want to be aware of online security and privacy concerns, especially if you’re telecommuting full- or part-time. Whatever your role, you will likely be exposed to private medical history covered by federal laws such as HIPAA. Review our article entitled, “Everything You Need to Know About HIPAA” to learn more about what HIPAA is and what it means in terms of your work as a healthcare professional.

With the rise of virtual medicine, the healthcare industry will continue to evolve, and you’ll want to keep up with the current trends. Visit the Avidity Medical Design Blog for more information on many different topics pertaining to the healthcare industry.

Ebola 101: What Challenges Do Physicians Face Treating This Disease?

Ebola has been a biological bogeyman for decades, but it’s only recently that the disease has made its way into the United States. With fewer than 10 cases and only a single fatality it could be argued that the response to the disease was proper. However, could that fatality have been avoided? And what problems are physicians facing trying to treat this disease in what is supposedly one of the best health care systems in the world?

Ebola 101: What Challenges Do Physicians Face?

Ebola is a deadly condition whose symptoms bear a resemblance to influenza (fever, coughing, weakness, vomiting, etc.) until bruising and bleeding starts. Fortunately Ebola is transmitted by close, personal contact (including contact with a patient’s bodily fluids) which means that it’s much more difficult to spread than an airborne virus. When examined from the outside Ebola should be a fairly simple disease to contain and control, and once it’s contained the treatment should be routine.

Should be is the key phrase here.

Ebola 101: What Challenges Do Physicians Face?The primary challenge that physicians face treating Ebola is actually containing it. The disease first has to be identified, and patient placed in isolation, and then physicians need to ascertain that no one else caught the disease from the patient. Given the fear associated with Ebola people may be unlikely to come forward if they were exposed, and this can lead to problems with the disease’s spread.

Another issue that physicians often face is the lack of training and proper protocol regarding Ebola. Whether it’s due to a lack of proper equipment (full body suits that will protect the doctor from a patient’s fluids are a primary concern, and they’re also something of a rarity), or simply not having a plan that’s been communicated to everyone on staff there are often breaches that result in the disease spreading to others when it shouldn’t. Part of the issue is funding, and part of it is experience since those who aren’t familiar with the CDC’s protocols for personal protection may find they make mistakes when they try to follow the guidelines.

Overcoming These Challenges

These challenges are not going to vanish overnight, which is why physicians must take necessary steps to overcome them. Making sure proper equipment is in place is a necessity, and making sure that staff can use that equipment through classes and drilling is also a necessity.

Another necessity is making sure that the protocols put in place are easy to follow, and that they work. That’s where Avidity Medical Design comes into the picture. With years of experience in the healthcare industry, and a thorough knowledge of anatomy and physiology, Avidity Medical Design can develop curriculum to train your staff on guidelines and strategies for treating patients with the Ebola virus. This comprehensive training is ideal for physicians, as well as nurses and other healthcare practitioners, who must address the demands of treating patients with the Ebola virus.

For more information on how Avidity Medical Design can help you simply contact us today!

Brain-Computer Interfaces: What They Mean for the Future Students of Healthcare Education

Do you remember the old sci-fi movies and TV shows that we grew up with? Do you remember how you felt when you saw Luke Skywalker, William Shatner and Arnold Schwarzenegger using out of this world technology that you thought was the creation of movie magic. What if I told you that the future is already here?

Technology has grown and matured over the last 25 years to a point where man and machine are slowly becoming one. A new and exciting area of tech that is receiving a lot of buzz right now is brain-computer interface technology.

brain computer interfacesWhat is Brain-Computer Technology?

A brain-computer interface is a direct communication pathway between the brain and an electrical device. The neurons of the brain are measured with electrodes, which then sends an electronic signal to a device such as a prosthetic leg or arm to simulate human movements.

There are currently two approaches that are yielding results in field studies. The non-invasive brain-computer interface measure activity from large groups of neurons with electrodes placed on the surface of the scalp (EEG). Invasive brain-computer interface measure activity from single neurons with miniature wires placed inside the brain.

Who Is Using Brain-Computer Interface Today?

The United States military has always been on the cutting edge of developing and using new emerging technology in all branches of the services.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco, contracts worth $56 million to create electrical brain implants capable of treating seven psychiatric conditions, including addiction, depression, and borderline personality disorder.

The military is trying to overcome an epidemic of mental illness among veterans, including suicide rates three or four times that of the general public due to long combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. This is why the military is turning to neurological devices.

The Brain Chip

Doctors in Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and researchers from Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio have helped a quadriplegic man move his hand for the first time with a brain chip.

Ian Burkhart, the man who was injured in a driving accident was the first patient to use Neurobridge. The Neuobridge system is made of a computer chip implanted in the brain, a brain-computer interface and a sleeve able to send electric signals to the forearm and hand of the patient.

This groundbreaking technology proves the brain-computer interface is more than just a fantasy it is a reality.

What Does This Mean For The Future Of Healthcare Education?

What this means for the future of healthcare education is that learning is going to have to be more cross categorical than ever before.

It won’t be enough for a student to know about basic brain functions and muscle interaction. They will need to understand mechanics, engineering, and software development just to name a few categories.

The healthcare system and healthcare technology are rapidly evolving. Healthcare education must evolve with it to meet the demands of today. I can help you develop a curriculum that can meet this demand. The future is here. Contact me with any questions you may have today