Whether you know it or not, your hospitals are being inundated on a daily basis with devices that want to communicate over your networks and the Internet. As you bring in and install new equipment (medical devices, payment processing machines, etc.), many of these devices have the ability to send and receive data over your network and outside of it, as they are part of this “Internet of Things”. This represents a point of vulnerability for your network. You need to take action to make sure that these devices are not going to be an entry point for a breach at your organization.
Healthcare system networks consist of multiple sources of data from multiple enterprise-level systems communicating in real time. This presents the healthcare cybersecurity professional with varying protection requirements. As these multiple types of data come together and transfer over to other systems, the data is accessed by many different users with varying analytics needs. Due to the urgent nature of information transfer in a healthcare environment, much of the data is transferred in clear text. Health care organizations face even greater risks if any part of a system is deployed in a cloud environment. When viewed from a patient perspective, speed of information flow is paramount. When viewed from an enterprise perspective, the importance of security becomes paramount. Organizations must protect sensitive customer, partner, and internal information and adhere to an ever-increasing set of compliance requirements.
The Office for Civil Rights website reports that data breaches in healthcare totaled over 112 million records in 2015. As if this were not enough to keep Healthcare Executives up at night, a new attack vector has now arrived on the scene: Ransomware. CEO Allen Stefanek recently reported that Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid hackers $17,000 to restore operation of their computer networks after a ransomware attack shut down their computers. As banks and retailers have shored up their security, hackers have turned to the less-secure healthcare sector.
Clients and Consultants are Looking for Three Flavors of Workforce Options
Now more than ever, healthcare providers need support from outside health delivery experts to meet the time sensitive and high visibility initiatives assigned to their IT, clinical or revenue departments. While hiring a regular, full-time employee might be the preferred model for your open Informaticist position, the availability of qualified local resources may prohibit you from hiring in a timely manner.
Not All IT Consultants Are Equal
There are two primary classifications of IT consultants depending upon their level of engagement and personal interest in the project. The most desired consultant is focused on the client’s success and is motivated to perform well on a personal level. The highly engaged consultant will also interact and lead the current team, train and teach others and help ease pressure. A disengaged consultant is only available when asked for assistance, little or no involvement with teaching and training. First has developed a stable of senior consultants who take pride in delivering high value for their client.
Meeting Today’s Workforce Needs
To address our clients ever evolving workforce requirements, First developed a flexible model called FirstFLEX allowing providers to move between three different staffing scenarios with ease. First will place an experienced advisor into the position quickly, providing the advisor with the option to transition into regular employment after you and the advisor gauge the fit.
FirstADVISE is our premium consulting services solution, offering you an immediate return on investment by placing a highly experienced advisor that provides value from day one.
FirstTEMP is a highly flexible solution, allowing you to immediately fill your vacancy with an exceptional advisor who is well versed in the domain where you need to bolster experience and efficiency without delay.
FirstEMPLOY is the solution that will solve your employee vacancy challenges. With one of the most extensive networks of healthcare IT, clinical and revenue professionals, First will help you fill those analyst, informatics, project management, director, and leadership vacancies that stagnate your enterprise IT initiatives and impact your budget.
As healthcare providers begin to transition from a fee for service approach to a “shared risk” or fee for quality model, hospitals will find ways to adapt or they will cease to exist. Promoting evidence based best practice, efficient knowledge transfer, solid structural support and effective information flow are factors that can positively impact outcome change. However, with so many competing initiatives most organizations are so focused on project completion they often overlook or undervalue one of the largest and lasting outcome influencers, social change.
A major health system CIO recently told me that they have embarked on numerous strategic, optimization, and outcome enhancing initiatives with much ado, energy and executive buy in. Unfortunately the intentions, performance indicators and achievement goals fell flat not long after project leadership and outside subject matter expertise moved on to the next regulatory requirement or EHR deployment.
Knowledge transfer is, or should be, a large part of any EHR project where subject expertise and 3rd party support are common. Optimization, workflow, and value re-engineering engagements provide solid case studies and good examples of where shortcomings can occur. For example, Lean Six Sigma programs can absolutely lead to lower cost and improved quality measures, but lasting improvements and change must involve more personal learning and cultural collaboration as even minor project and change is initiated.
I refer to many of our engagements that address EHR optimization as “Dynamic Maximization” initiatives. As an advisor to our healthcare clients, we must enter all engagements with a strong understanding that the socio-cultural influencers are a major factor in project outcomes. That “Dynamic” part of healthcare is what really differentiates an organization and leaves their patients (or clients) more satisfied as a result. Our idea of “Maximization” occurs when those organizations meet key indicators of structural, human workflow, information flow, and in-house personnel optimization. In the early stages of fee for quality, such outcome improvements can and should be addressed in smaller, more controlled initiatives where cultural change does not overwhelm and the opportunity to succeed is greater.
I’ll discuss social change approaches and examples during EHR optimization in my next post.
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