May 17, 2020

17 influential health systems partner to transform healthcare in the US

Hospital Leadership
Hospital Operations
healthcare services
Catherine Sturman
4 min
It has recently been revealed that up to 17 health systems in the US are set to partner in a new Medicaid Transformation Project.

Spanning 280 hospital...

It has recently been revealed that up to 17 health systems in the US are set to partner in a new Medicaid Transformation Project.

Spanning 280 hospitals, and led by AVIA and former CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt of Town Hall Ventures, the national effort will lead to the development of scalable, sustainable solutions to support those which are presently underrepresented within the healthcare market.

One in five (up to 75mn) US citizens presently rely on Medicaid to gain access to essential healthcare services. Through the project, the work will focus on areas such as behavioural health, women and children, substance use disorder, and will look at ways to reduce emergency wait times.

The two-year project will look at health systems presently in place at the following healthcare organisations, in order to overhaul patient care in over 20 states.

“We are honoured to partner with this powerhouse group of health systems and be an accelerant for the innovative work they’re doing to help vulnerable populations every day,” said AVIA President Linda Finkel.

“These health systems are ready to have an even greater impact – by scaling sustainable care models and capabilities that can significantly improve the health of the underserved. And now, thanks to the potential to unlock digital solutions, there’s a stronger business case than ever. We are deeply privileged to be entrusted with this meaningful work.”

Five providers will seek to lay the groundworks of the project, which are as follows.

  1. Advocate Aurora Health (Chicago and Wisconsin)
  2. Baylor Scott & White Health (Dallas)
  3. Dignity Health (San Francisco)
  4. Geisinger (Danville)
  5. Providence St. Joseph Health (Renton, Washington)

The following have recently joined the project.

  • Alina Health (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Ballad Health (Johnson City, Tennessee)
  • Christiana Care Health System (Wilmington, Delaware)
  • Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Henry Ford Health Systems (Detroit)
  • Memorial Hermann Health System (Houston)
  • Navicent Health (Macon, Georgia)
  • OSF HealthCare (Peoria, Illinois)
  • Presbyterian Healthcare Services (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
  • Rush University Medical Center (Chicago);
  • Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • UVA Health System, Charlottesville

Accumulating over $100bn in combined annual revenues, the partnership will advance the adoption of new digital tools, promote data sharing and build new scalable solutions to deliver a roadmap for partner organisations to implement.

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Overhauling patient care through the use of innovative care models, sharing best practices will be essential.

“Healthcare today must be consumer-centric, and engage patients with personalised experiences,” stated Lloyd Dean, President and CEO of Dignity Health.

“Together, we must bring down healthcare costs in order to provide access for the most vulnerable communities. It is my hope that our collaboration will unleash new avenues that bring down barriers to care and improve the overall health of our communities.”

“The current healthcare system fails the people who need it most,” notes Slavitt.

“The Medicaid Transformation Project will be part of a decade-long journey leading some of the best health systems in the country. Our work will be to deepen and refine the best innovations and then implement them at an accelerated pace at providers across the country.”

“The gap between the needs of vulnerable populations and the healthcare they receive is too great. We are no longer interested in discussing the problems our patients are facing or just piloting solutions – we’re interested in solving them as quickly as possible,” added Geisinger CEO and President, David Feinberg.

“As the largest not-for-profit healthcare system in Texas – a state which did not expand Medicaid – we remain committed to meeting the needs of the communities we serve, including providing access to care for those who cannot afford it,” said Jim Hinton, Baylor Scott & White Health CEO.

“We are energised to be part of leading this national initiative and advancing sustainable solutions to meet the growing needs of our most vulnerable populations.”

A Leadership Council, chaired by Slavitt has been established, and will encompass the expertise of health system CEOs to maintain and guarantee exceptional outcomes

“We believe tomorrow’s solutions for today’s health disparities will be rooted in digital solutions and technologies that are easy to implement and scale,” commented Nick Turkal, MD, President and CEO of Advocate Aurora Health.

“This unique opportunity brings together like-minded systems who are committed to delivering greater value to those who deliver, receive, and pay for health care.”

Influential healthcare figure David Smith is set to provide expertise, and is set to collaborate with a number of Medicaid experts, such as Dr Molly Coye, former Commissioner of Health for the State of New Jersey and Director of the California Department of Health Services.

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Jun 13, 2021

How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats

Jonathan Miles
6 min
Jonathan Miles, Head of Strategic Intelligence and Security Research at Mimecast, tells us how the healthcare sector can protect itself from attacks

One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority.  In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.

The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics. 

From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world. 

Going digital 

The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years. 

This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate. 

Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.

To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care. 

Strengthening defences

Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change. 

It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device. 

These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.

Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement: 
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.

In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.

Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents. 

Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.

This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents. 
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.

Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.

As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.  

Fighting future threats

With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.

To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced. 

This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.

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