Bradley Dick is Chief Information Officer at Resurgens Orthopaedics, one of the largest orthopedics practices in the country with 97 orthopedic surgeons, 21 locations in an around metro Atlanta, six outpatient surgery centers, and nine imaging facilities. We recently caught up with him to get his thoughts on his organization’s mobile technology strategy and why mobile technology is growing in healthcare.


Intel: What is the mobile strategy for your organization?


Dick: Our mobile strategy is to empower the physician at the point of care. It’s not tied to a particular device. Data is really the power of mobile healthcare technology and the key is to get the data to the practitioner at the point of care so they can make decisions and not impact the workflow. We found that with any type of solution, if it significantly impacts workflow it will not be successful.


Intel: What types of solutions have you successfully implemented recently?


Dick: The most recent solution we implemented is the Allscripts TouchWorks EHR for Windows 8. We wanted a solution that would enable the provider to have the entire episode of care available to them; everything starting when the patient walked into the building to the time they left the facility. Other solutions did not have the same multi-tasking functionality or support for other applications.


Intel: What has helped drive the growth of mobile technology in healthcare?


Dick: One of the big drivers of mobile healthcare technology is the ubiquity of bandwidth. With great bandwidth available, it opens us up to a lot of interesting possibilities. A lot of the big data systems we are starting to look at are going to be key in the mobile space because behind the scenes, we have to get that data to the clinician at the point of care. That’s always been the big challenge. Data is only as good as it is integrated into the actual care of the patient and bandwidth makes that possible.


Intel: What should CIOs be thinking about when it comes to mobile technology?


Dick: Healthcare CIOs should be thinking about the workflows of their clinicians and look to find ways that they can make those workflows more efficient. Trust me, physicians are using mobile devices and want to have that technology and the data. The key is to collaborate with providers and care coordinators to find the right tools. It will be much more successful if you integrate them into the process rather than come up with a process on your own.


Intel: What keeps you up at night when it comes to healthcare technology?


Dick: What keeps me up at night is the worry that we are not innovating enough. We have been focusing on regulatory compliance so much I don’t think we are innovating. EHRs are not innovation. We need to start seeing the smaller companies introduce solutions that we can integrate into our systems and have some sort of interoperability. Right now it’s almost impossible for the small companies to get our attention because we know they cannot integrate into our systems.


The impact of technology on healthcare is significantly enhancing the connection between the homecare nurse and patient. From reviewing prescription data to real-time conversations with remote clinical specialists, technology such as the Ultrabook™ 2 in 1 for Healthcare allows nurses to provide hospital-quality care to patients in the home.


Patients feel a greater connection with their homecare nurse and become more informed about their condition. And a more educated patient is one that takes more responsibility for their health and care, thus reducing the level of resource required to manage the individual.


For a homecare nurse, powerful mobile technology brings a wealth of patient data to the fingertips at a time and place when they need it. Through a combination of anytime-anywhere access to data & medical experience and knowledge, nurses are able to take their highly valued expertise into the heart of the community.


As population growth slows and population ageing accelerates across the European Union there will be increased demands on healthcare systems. Solutions which enable frontline care providers to do their job more efficiently and effectively will be embraced across the healthcare spectrum.


Check out the video above to see how a homecare nurse and patient in Sweden are benefiting from connected healthcare in the community.


It’s really interesting to look at the past few years of mobile technology and healthcare. Things have exploded in a great way and it’s exciting. The walls are starting to come down and innovation is really starting to happen. Four or five years ago, the barriers to entry were just as high as the barriers to exit in healthcare IT. Because they were so high on both sides, many people were stuck in the middle. It was almost impossible for new players to get into that system and integrate new, innovative ideas. We’re starting to see those barriers to entry come down. It’s exciting to see a big hospital system shake hands with a smaller startup and try to figure out a way to create solutions in an agile, startup-like approach.


But, at the same time, we’re starting to see that many of these solutions are siloed solutions. With my clinical hat on, if I want to leverage a certain application that will solve a problem for a patient, it might be a different application than what I need to open for another patient. What happens is that we are creating a salad of applications and solutions without actually thinking from the bigger picture about a platform. The truly exciting innovations in mobile health now are platforms, like data aggregation platforms, analytics platforms, and learning platforms.


If there was one thing I would change about mobile healthcare technology, it would be to make it more evenly distributed. I would want more sensors in the hands of more patients, and more mobile healthcare technology movements at more hospital systems.


At University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, we have been working with mhealth for years. But I know there are a lot of hospital systems that are just starting to sniff at this space. If we are going to move forward productively in the future, there has to be greater transparency in terms of data sharing and interconnectedness between all parties—patients and hospitals—so that we can actually leverage each other to do something much greater in scope. Until the technology is more evenly distributed, I don’t think we’ll be able to do that.


Shivdev Rao is Physician Advisor in Residence at UPMC.


Millennials are the next growing population that will capture the attention of doctors. In many cases, doctors today focus on the elderly and those who suffer from chronic diseases because that’s where the main amount of business lies.


When we begin to focus on the younger generation—which has always been connected and is always plugged in—the experience will begin to shift. These younger patients will ask, “why do I have to go see a doctor for a rash or to refill a prescription?” They will want to use a mobile device to take a picture of their rash and send it to a doctor. They will want to know why a pattern matching algorithm cannot look at the rash and let them know if it’s serious enough to go see a doctor. For them, the mobile device is the mechanism for receiving healthcare.


The bottom line is that the millennial generation wants immediacy, which to them means minutes or seconds, not days or weeks. The idea of waiting a few days for an appointment or leaving one location to go to another for treatment is foreign to them. Communication for them needs to be instant. Just ask their families: often times the best way to reach these younger members of our population is to text them—even when everyone is in the same house.


Of course, this type of treatment scenario will not be for everyone. It took a generation or two for online banking to take root. The Millennials now do banking on their phones. They do not need to go to the bank to deposit a check. Banking did not go away; people now have choices for interacting with these institutions. The same will be true with healthcare, and clinicians and IT managers need to be prepared for the onslaught of this mobile revolution.


Clinicians and bricks-and-mortar structures will not go away, but increasingly face-to-face interactions will be in the cyberspace arena. The next step is to make sure these types of treatment options are reimbursable for physicians.


What questions do you have about the next generation of patients and mobile technology? What are you seeing in your organization today?


Mobility Week: The Power of Open

Posted by DrZ Feb 23, 2015

Last week, I was chatting with one of our developers when his office lights inexplicably blinked. Perplexed, I inquired, “What just happened?” As is common working with software developers, I caught a glimpse of the future. He explained, “You just sent an email to Danny, and that makes the lights blink.” Both amazed and confused, I listened curiously as he explained the mechanics. A company called If This Then That (IFTTT) freely connects various web-enabled services, and in this case, our developers had used it to connect Gmail’s API service with Philips new Hue WiFi-enabled light bulb. Ergo, when I send an email, the office lights blink. I agree it’s a rather pointless exercise, but I submit that it illustrates an incredibly powerful example of the value of open platforms.


Perhaps a better example will drive the point home. IFTTT integrates with many services, including Automatic, a commercially available device that connects to the Onboard Diagnostics Port on most cars. This device can be configured to send real-time analytics about your vehicle and driving patterns to your mobile device. So, instead of blinking the office lights after an email, perhaps I could have it turn on the lights in my home when I park in the driveway and turn off the engine. Or in another example, when my engine turns on and I leave my driveway, my temperature on my Nest home thermostat automatically adjusts. Using open APIs, companies can securely connect their services - their creative innovations - and in so doing, create unique experiences that no single company could have delivered, or perhaps even imagined.


Perils of Master Planning


I’m reminded of a classic economics essay, “I, Pencil” by Leonard E. Read. Originally published in 1958, the essay creatively illustrates the power of human creativity through a detailed description of how a common, every day pencil comes into existence. He writes:


It is even more astounding that the pencil was ever produced. No one sitting in a central office gave orders to these thousands of people…These people live in many lands, speak different languages, practice different religions, may even hate one another—yet none of these differences prevented them from cooperating to produce a pencil. How did it happen?


The brief essay describes in great detail how millions of people, disconnected and unaware of each other’s efforts, work together to mine the raw materials, transport the cargo, produce the parts, manufacture the tools, and put the materials in place to create the most basic of objects that we use and take for granted every day – the pencil. He speaks to the limits of centralized planning and control, writing:


…no single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me [the pencil]...There is a fact still more astounding: The absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me [the pencil] into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work.


Interoperability in Healthcare IT


Unfortunately, it appears that Healthcare IT is slow in adopting the very fundamental premises that have been adopted by modern non-healthcare SaaS vendors. No single vendor should be tasked with knowing all use cases in health care, just as no single person or company could build every component necessary to craft the simple pencil. No hospital should have to rely on a single company to provide all of its software needs, since neither the hospital nor the software vendor understands all that is – or, more importantly, will be – required. By allowing vendors to work together, through the use of an open platform of interoperable services and components, we are providing new opportunity for innovation and creativity to occur. In the end, open standards improve our patients’ experience in ways planned and unplanned.


This advantage is clear to both federal regulators and the VC market. The Office of the National Coordinator recently released for public comment a draft entitled Interoperability Roadmap, aimed at “promoting, facilitating, and enhancing the safe and secure exchange and use of health information nationwide”. These new opportunities will be well funded, as a recent report from Mercom Capital Group shows a doubling of the 2014 Healthcare IT investment to $4.6 billion. The transformative effects of open platforms have transformed other industries, and the rising potential of mobility to empower the patient will make the consumerization of healthcare a reality.




Imagine what would be possible if we were able to create intelligent software systems that easily and effectively communicated with one another? How would this change the experience of the users of the systems? And more importantly how would it change the experience of the patients receiving care?


While these aren’t the easiest problems to solve, there are some extremely smart individuals in the Healthcare IT space who can move this discussion forward in a way will benefit everyone at every level of the healthcare space. We need to collaborate and we need to trust one another. And when we can create a real open Healthcare ecosystem, that bulb in our office will have even more reasons to blink.

What questions do you have?

Jeffrey R. Zavaleta, MD, is Chief Medical Officer at Graphium Health.

In my days as a practicing registered nurse, technology felt like something that just got in the way of doing the real job of looking after patients. The perception of technology held by my fellow RNs was that it was forced on them by an IT department and that ultimately it was more hassle than it was worth.


Today, things have changed. Nurses are truly embracing technology and, in many cases, I'd say they that they are pioneers of its use across the healthcare sector. Just one example is the benefits offered by the flexibility of using tablets and two-in-ones for patient care settings outside of the norm of a hospital or clinic.


A couple of years ago we put together a video here at Intel showing a nurse transcribing hand-written notes from a home visit on what would now be deemed to be a bulky laptop. Suffice to say that in just a short space of time mobile solutions have come so far. Writing notes on paper while with the patient then heading back to the office to input them into the appropriate clinical systems on a desktop is, thankfully, a thing of the past.


Real-time note-taking

Nurses now captures notes in real-time on a mobile device during a homecare visit in a way that the patient is comfortable with and finds unobtrusive. Where nurses used to hold a pen and paper they now hold a tablet, phablet or two-in-one which helps maintain that all-important, trust-building eye contact with the patient.


All of this is possible because of advances in the computing power of mobile devices. To put this into perspective, it’s likely that the tablet carried by a nurse today has more computing power than the desktop of just a couple of years ago. Combine that performance with the anywhere-anytime, security-enhanced access to clinical applications via the cloud and you have nurses who do their jobs more efficiently and reduce the number of errors resulting from duplicating steps to document patient information.


Educating patients

We want to see patients engaging more in taking good care of themselves too. Mobile devices are helping patients better understand their condition, whether that be through showing x-rays or illustrating responses to treatment in graphical forms. Education is a crucial part of the modern nurse's role and I'm happy to say that this part of the job is much easier today than it was when I was practicing.


We've only scratched the surface though, as when we look ahead to the opportunities presented by wearable technologies which can send information to a care team instantaneously, we start to see the true benefits of virtual care. As the population grows and people live longer, this virtual care will become increasingly important, if not essential.


Your future

I'd love to hear how you are using today's technologies in your role - how are mobile devices helping you care for your patients more efficiently and effectively? What is the one feature that you couldn't live without? And what capabilities do you need moving forward?


Leave a comment below or tweet me via @intelhealth - let's keep the conversation going so that we can build the future of nursing together.

The question I get asked more often than anything is, “given what is happening in the medical/pharmaceutical world, is there a future for the pharmaceutical sales representative?”


The short answer, in my opinion, is yes. But, there is no doubt that with all the restrictions on access, the sunshine act and the changes in what representatives are allowed to say the way a medical sales representative can interact with health care professionals (HCPs) has changed forever.


When it comes down to the essentials, HCPs still need to be kept updated, and who better to be the purveyor of that information than the representative of the company who provides the service, device or drug. It happens in every other industry, so why not in medicine? Somewhere the perception has arisen that doctors will prescribe bad/wrong drugs for reasons beyond what is best for the patient. Now, in all walks of life there are some people who do things for personal gain, but in medicine I still firmly believe that the vast majority of doctors will give a patient the most appropriate drug for the individual and their condition as if they were a family member. The day has come where the doctor does not have the prescribing freedom that he/she once had. With restricted formularies, financial constraints and insurance coverage the decision on which drug is most appropriate has to include these intangibles.


In much of the research I have done over the last two years, HCPs and in particular specialists have told me that their available time during a working day to see medical sales professionals is limited at best. They have to see more patients and spend less time with each patient in order to maintain their income and cover their expenses. The attraction of private practice gets is diminishing with more and more doctors are joining larger groups or going “on-staff” as this is the only way they can practice medicine and live a life.


So, back to the question as to what is the future of the medical/device sales representative? The sales rep of the future is going to “carry” more than just 2 or 3 drugs in their hypothetical bag. They will have a scientific, nursing or medical background and be trained on a portfolio of products maybe even all the products that their company has. They will be available at a time of day and in a way that suits the needs and work day of the specialists they cover.


Many doctors stated that the only time they can interact with pharmaceutical sales reps is out of hours or at conferences. Many of the big institutions do not allow sales reps into the building. Yet, doctors still need to be informed of current developments and new therapies. They will seek out this information and expect to be able to get it when they want it. Online sales professionals will be available for virtual sales calls at all times of the day and night.


In all the research I have done, doctors do not like telesales but are more than happy to be “detailed” online as long as there is a visual component to the presentation and there is a real person at the other end of the interaction. Bottom line is that doctors cannot do their job without the pharmaceutical, medical device and biotech industry. They need to know what is current and in the pipeline and being people/people they would prefer to get this information directly from representatives of that industry. The industry needs doctors to test, use and refine what they do. A symbiotic existence continues to be needed but a status quo needs to be established in the new world we exist in.


What questions about the future of pharmaceutical sales do you have?


If you’re like me, you’re probably looking at your February calendar and noticing that something is missing. Where’s HIMSS? Traditionally held the last week of February, the 2015 show was moved to April in hopes of better weather in Chicago. But in the meantime, we’re hankering for a health IT gathering where we can converse with peers and learn about key industry topics.


That’s where Mobility Week comes in.


Mobile health technology has exploded over the past few years with the introduction of smartphones, tablets, and 2 in 1 devices that allow clinicians to access data when they need it regardless of location. CIOs are struggling to keep up with the latest devices, form a strategy for dealing with security, BYOD and useability, and find enterprise-grade mobile applications that are optimized for touch. The mHealth Summit last December showed the massive growth in mobility and its impact on healthcare. That’s why Intel is designating the week of Feb. 23 to Feb. 27 as Mobility Week.


The online, themed week will feature a number of opportunities for you to interact with peers and learn more about preparing your mhealth strategy and working with clinicians, who are the ultimate end users of this technology. For example, you’re invited to join:


Webinar: Preparing for the Next Wave of Mobile Health. During this Feb. 26 webinar through HIMSS, listen in as mobile health IT experts from Intel, Microsoft and Dell discuss how clinicians are pushing CIOs for mobile solutions and bringing new ideas to the table for mobile enhancements. You’ll hear how CIOs can handle the flood of consumer devices coming into healthcare environments, work more closely with clinicians to find the right devices, and prepare for the next generation of mhealth devices made specifically for clinical use cases. Watch the above clip for a preview. Register for the webinar.


#HITsm Tweet Chat: Ben Wilson (@bwilsonintel), director of mobile health at Intel, will moderate the #HITsm chat on Twitter on Friday, Feb. 27, at 12 noon ET. Come prepared to discuss and ask about how mobile impacts clinician workflows, devices and adoption, conceptual computing, and how mobile is used beyond the walls of hospitals and clinics.


Blog takeover: Visit the Intel Health and Life Sciences Community blog each day during the week for a new post or video on mobile health best practices, advice from your peers, and how security and cloud computing fit into the mobile mix. Read and comment and let us know how you are developing your mobile health strategy.


We’re looking forward to Mobility Week and filling that big empty hole in our calendars during the last week of February. We hope to see you online at the events, and then at HIMSS in Chicago come April.


What questions about mobile health IT do you have?

I recently spoke to the Apps Alliance, a non-profit global membership organization that supports developers as creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs, on the latest trends in healthcare security.


It was a fascinating 40 minutes and a great opportunity to take a look at security issues not just from the healthcare professional or patient perspective, but also from a developers’ point of view. In this podcast, we take a look at what's important to all three groups when it comes to privacy, security and risk around healthcare data.

Listen to the podcast here


We discussed:


  • Best practices for developers looking to secure healthcare data
  • Security challenges that stem from the flow of data from mobile healthcare devices
  • The relationship between usability and security


I recently wrote a blog looking at the perceived trade-off between usability and security in healthcare IT and how you can mitigate risks in your own organisation. We have solutions to help you overcome these challenges, many of which are outlined in our Healthcare Friendly Security whitepaper.


We'd love to get your feedback on the issues discussed in the podcast so please leave a comment below - we're happy to answer questions you may have too.


Thanks for listening.

David Houlding, MSc, CISSP, CIPP is a Healthcare Privacy and Security lead at Intel and a frequent blog contributor.

Find him on LinkedIn

Keep up with him on Twitter (@davidhoulding)

Check out his previous posts

In my last post, we looked at two of the top five health IT trends I’m seeing for 2015. In this blog, we’ll conclude with a more in-depth look at the remaining three trends.


To recap, the five areas that I strategically see growing rapidly in 2015 are focused on the consumerism of healthcare, personalization of medicine, consumer-facing mobile strategies, advancements in health information interoperability including consumer-directed data exchange and finally, innovation focused on tele-health and virtual care.


While all of these trends can be independent of each other and will respectively grow separately, I see the fastest growth occurring where they are combined or integrated because they improve each other.


Here’s my take on the three remaining trends:


  1. Consumer-facing mobile strategies: To control spiraling healthcare costs related to managing patients with chronic conditions as well as to navigate new policy regulations, 70 percent of healthcare organizations worldwide will invest in consumer-facing mobile applications, wearables, remote health monitoring and virtual care by 2018. This will create more demand for big data and analytics capability to support population health management initiatives. And to further my earlier points, the personalization of medicine relies on additional quality and population health management initiatives so these innovations and trends will fuel each other at faster rates as they become more integrated and mature.

  2. Consumer-directed interoperability: Along with the evolution of the consumerism of healthcare, you will see the convergence of health information exchange with consumer-directed data exchange. While this has been on the proverbial roadmap for many years, consumers are getting savvier as they engage their healthcare and look to manage their increasing healthcare costs better along with their families’ costs. Meaningful use regulations for stage 3 will drive this strategy this year but also just the shear demand by consumers will be a force as well. I am personally seeing a lot of exciting innovation in this area today.

  3. Virtual care: Last but certainly not least, tele-health, tele-medicine and virtual care will be top-of-mind in 2015. The progression of tele-health in recent years is perhaps best demonstrated by a recent report finding that the number of patients worldwide using tele-health services is expected to grow from 350,000 in 2013 to approximately 7 million by 2018. Moreover, three-fourths of the 100 million electronic visits expected to occur in 2015 will occur in North America. We are seeing progress not only on the innovation and provider adoption side but slowly public policy is starting to evolve. While the policy evolution should have occurred much sooner, last Congressional session we saw 57 bills introduced and as of June 2013, 40 out of 50 states had introduced legislation addressing tele-health policy. I see in every corner of the country that care providers want to use this type of technology and innovation to improve care coordination, increase access and efficiency, increase quality and decrease costs. Patients do as well so let’s keep pushing policy and regulation to catch up with reality.


While the headlines this year will be dominated by meaningful use (good and bad stories), ICD-10, interoperability (or data-blocking), and other sensational as well as eye-catching topics, I am extremely encouraged by the innovations emerging across this country. We are starting to bend the cost curve by implementing advanced payment and care delivery models. While change and evolution are never easy, we are surrounded by clinicians, patients, consumers, administrators, innovators and even legislators and regulators who are all thinking and acting in similar directions with respects to healthcare. This is fueling these changes “on the ground” in all of our communities. This year will be as tough as ever in the industry but also, a great opportunity to be a part of history.


What do you think? Agree or disagree with these trends?


As a healthcare innovation executive and strategist, Justin is a corporate, board and policy advisor who also serves as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC). In addition, Mr. Barnes is Chairman Emeritus of the HIMSS EHR Association as well as Co-Chairman of the Accountable Care Community of Practice. Barnes has appeared in more than 800 journals, magazines and broadcast media outlets relating to national leadership of healthcare and health IT. He recently launched a weekly radio show, “This Just In.”

While I know meaningful use (stages 2 and 3), electronic health record (EHR) interoperability, ICD-10 readiness, patient safety and mobile health will all continue to trend upwards with great importance, the five areas that I strategically see growing rapidly in 2015 are focused on the consumerism of healthcare, personalization of medicine, consumer-facing mobile strategies, advancements in health information interoperability including consumer-directed data exchange and finally, innovation focused on tele-health and virtual care.


While all of these trends can be independent of each other and will respectively grow separately, I see the fastest growth occurring where they are combined or integrated because they improve each other. It’s like a great marriage where the spouses make each other better and usually more successful because of their unity. I see the same occurring in 2015 and why I am so bullish on these integrated opportunities and innovations.


In this first part of my 2015 outlook blog, we’ll look at two of the top trends:


  1. Treating the patient as a consumer: This is due to numerous factors but a significant driver is the shift in various CMS regulations and incentives that have care providers and healthcare organizations focused on increased patient engagement as well as patient empowerment to improve communication, care coordination, patient satisfaction and even discharge management with hospitals. As a result of an increased focus on improving the patient/consumer experience, 65 percent of consumer transactions with healthcare organizations will be mobile by 2018, thus requiring healthcare organizations to develop omni-channel strategies to provide a consistent experience across the web, mobile and telephonic channels. I have already begun to see this in hundreds of area hospitals and practices in Georgia and know it is occurring across the country.

  2. Personalized medicine: While this concept is not new, the actual care plan implementation as well as technology and services innovations supporting this implementation is being driven quickly by the increased pressure for all care providers to improve quality and manage costs. You will see this increase dramatically once Congress passes SGR Reform that received bipartisan and bicameral support last Congressional Session and Congressional leaders are poised to take up this legislation again in the next month. The latest statistics show that 15 percent of hospitals will create a comprehensive patient profile by 2016 that will allow them to deliver personalized treatment plans.


Tomorrow we’ll look closely at the other three 2015 trends in health IT.


What questions do you have? What are the trends you are seeing in the marketplace?


As a healthcare innovation executive and strategist, Justin is a corporate, board and policy advisor who also serves as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC). In addition, Mr. Barnes is Chairman Emeritus of the HIMSS EHR Association as well as Co-Chairman of the Accountable Care Community of Practice. Barnes has appeared in more than 800 journals, magazines and broadcast media outlets relating to national leadership of healthcare and health IT. He recently launched a weekly radio show, “This Just In.”

A consequence of the unprecedented rate of advances in technology has brought the topic of usability of devices in the workplace to the fore. Usability used to be a 'nice to have' but with experiences and expectations heightened by the fantastic usability of personal mobile devices it has become a 'must-have'. The corporate healthcare IT environment is faced with a challenge.


Taming the BYOD culture

Either they invest in great corporate IT user experiences for employees or they'll be exposed to the dangers of the 'Bring Your Own Device' (BYOD) to work movement. And healthcare workers are amongst the first to look for workarounds such as BYOD when usability of their IT is having a negative impact on their workflow.


If organisations allow a BYOD culture to become established they face heightened security and privacy risks which can often result in data breaches. Since 2010, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in the UK has fined organisations more than £6.7m for data protection breaches. Of this, the healthcare sector suffered fines of some £1.3m alone, which accounts for nearly 30% of the British public sector penalties.


These costs highlight the importance of avoiding data breaches, particularly as the UK's public sector health organisations rapidly moved towards cloud-based electronic health records under the Personalised Health and Care 2020 framework. If data security is lacking because of workarounds it may well negate the predicted cost-effective benefits of moving to electronic health records for both patient and provider.


The 2020 framework acknowledges that, "In part, some of the barriers to reaping those benefits are comparatively mundane: a lack of universal Wi-Fi access, a failure to provide computers or tablets to ward or community-based staff, and outmoded security procedures that, by frustrating health and care professionals, encourage inappropriate ‘workarounds.’”


Mitigating risk of loss or theft

Loss or theft of devices is another common cause of data breaches in healthcare. An audit of 19 UK health-related organisations by the ICO concluded that "a number of organisations visited did not have effective asset management in place for IT hardware and software; this raises the risk of the business not knowing what devices are in circulation and therefore not becoming aware if one is lost or stolen."


There are a number of options to mitigate risk in these circumstances. First, usability and security can be vastly enhanced using Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), which when combined with Single Sign On (SSO) reduces the overall number of device logins required. Second, replacing unencrypted conventional hard drives with SSDs (Solid State Drives) + encryption lowers the risk in the event of theft or loss but also improves data access performance. And that's a win-win result for all healthcare professionals.


Effective security is like a chain, it requires the securing of all points and either removing or repairing the weak links. Intel Security Group's solutions has security covered from mobile devices, through networks to back-end servers. We're already helping healthcare organisations across the globe to embrace the rapidly changing face of technology in the healthcare sector while managing risk and improving that all-important usability.


We've produced a whitepaper on Healthcare Friendly Security which will help you strike the balance between fantastic usability and industry-leading security in your organisation. Grab your free download today.



David Houlding, MSc, CISSP, CIPP is a Healthcare Privacy and Security lead at Intel and a frequent blog contributor.

Find him on LinkedIn

Keep up with him on Twitter (@davidhoulding)

Check out his previous posts

Mobile devices and technology have allowed clinicians to gather patient data at the point-of-care, access vital information on the go, and untether from traditional wired health IT infrastructures. One hidden benefit of mobile capability is how doctors can gain access to data which analyzes their own performances.

In the video above, Jeff Zavaleta, MD, chief medical officer at Graphium Health and a practicing anesthesiologist in Dallas, shares his insight on how mobile devices offer a new opportunity for practitioners to self-evaluate, answer the question, “how did you do this week?,” and see key performance indicators such as their average patient recovery times and on-time appointment starts.


Watch the short video and let us know what questions you have about the future of mobile health IT and where you think it’s headed. How are you using mobile technology to improve your practice?


Also, be on the lookout for new blogs from Dr. Zavaleta, who will be a guest contributor to the Intel Health & Life Sciences Community.


The buzz following the mHealth Summit has been encouraging, to say the least. The December event drew 4,000 attendees, who were brought up to speed on the latest developments spanning policies and research, global health, hospital mobility, consumer engagement, privacy and security and, of course, emerging technologies.


The two areas of focus that I found most encouraging centered on consumer engagement and care coordination.


Far too often, when the industry talks about mobile health, the technology itself – or even just the promise of an emerging technology – has a way of quickly overpowering the dialogue. But as the Center for Connected Medicine's Joseph Kvedar touched on (and several panels advanced the notion), one of the biggest issues facing healthcare right now is getting and keeping consumers interested in their own care. The success of mobile devices and apps, as well as early consumer interest in wearables, is encouraging because it shows that all the pieces are in place. But until consumers show as much interest in communicating their health information with their doctors as they do, say, sharing Facebook posts, the healthcare system overall will continue to struggle.


Given this present state of consumer engagement, news that care coordination works was all the more welcome.


As mHealthNews reported: "In health systems large and small, clinicians are using smartphones to instantly connect with others caring for the same patient. They're sharing notes and tests, discussing treatment plans and, in many cases, bringing the patient and his/her family into the loop to map out a care plan that goes beyond the hospital or clinic. It's a tried-and-true process that's gone beyond the pilot stage, as was noted in Healthcare IT News' Monday morning breakfast panel and several educational sessions. Expect this to become the norm for patient care."


Taken together, the growing emphasis on consumer engagement – coupled with the now proven advantages of care coordination to help overcome the disconnect between physicians and other care givers – is, in my opinion, highly likely to yield meaningful outcomes.


Equally important, as medical groups and health systems begin to make headway with consumer engagement while addressing care coordination holistically, providers should be able to work together to keep patients healthier – while remaining competitive in the marketplace.


What questions about mHealth do you have?


As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is a sponsored correspondent for Intel Health & Life Sciences.

Read John’s other blog posts

As recently as 10 years ago, healthcare IT was mostly corporate provisioned, less diverse and there were slower refresh rates. Up to this point, usability was treated as a “nice to have” and significantly lower priority than features or functionality of solutions.


In this more homogeneous and slower changing environment there was, for the most part, one way to get the job done. Fast forward to today where most healthcare IT environments are much more heterogeneous with a myriad of devices, both corporate and personal BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), operating systems, apps, versions, social media, and now we have wearables and Internet of Things rapidly growing. Furthermore, refresh rates are much faster, especially with personal / BYOD devices, and apps. In today’s environment, usability is very much a “must have” because if it is not present research shows healthcare workers find workarounds, like using personal devices, and these workarounds drive non-compliance and additional security and privacy risk and can often be the source of breaches.


Traditionally we have approached usability and security as a tug of war or tradeoff … where having more security meant less usability and vice versa.


For more information on Healthcare Friendly Security see this new whitepaper.


Unfortunately, breaches have reached alarming levels in both business impact and likelihood. The total average cost of a data breach in 2014 was US $3.5 million. This average is global and across several industries including healthcare. Looking more specifically at healthcare, the global average cost of a data breach per patient is US $359, the highest across all industries. With this kind of cost avoiding, breaches are of paramount importance for healthcare organizations. But how can we add security without compromising usability, and inadvertently driving workarounds that actually cause non-compliance and risk?


What is desperately needed is security that preserves or even improves usability, where risks are significantly mitigated without driving healthcare workers to use workarounds. On the surface this may seem impossible, yet there are several security safeguards today that do just that. Many breaches occur due to loss or theft of mobile devices. A very good safeguard to help mitigate this risk are self-encrypting SSD’s (Solid State Drives). If one takes a conventional hard drive, unencrypted and at risk of causing breach if lost or stolen, and replaces it with an SSD + encryption this can often have better data access performance than the original conventional unencrypted drive. Another example of a safeguard that improves usability and security is MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) combined with SSO (Single Sign On), which improves both the usability and security of each login, as well as reduces the overall number of logins.


Intel Security Group is focused on creating innovative security safeguards that combine security software vertically integrated with security hardware that improve usability and harden the overall solution to make it more resilient to increasingly sophisticated attacks, such as from cybercrime. With cloud and mobile, and health information exchange, security becomes like a chain, and effective security requires securing all points and avoiding weakest links. Intel Security Group solutions span right from mobile devices, through networks to backend servers. This paves the way for healthcare to adopt, embrace, and realize benefits of new technologies while managing risk, and improving usability.


What questions about healthcare IT security do you have?


For more information on Healthcare Friendly Security see this new whitepaper.


David Houlding, MSc, CISSP, CIPP is a Healthcare Privacy and Security lead at Intel Corporation and a frequent blog contributor.

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