Arizona's First Adavanced Care Dental Clinic Opens at A.T. Still University
Written by Alix Friedman
A.T. Still University of Health Sciences (ATSU) will celebrate the opening of its Advanced Care Clinic on Wednesday, September 18. The 10,600-square-foot oral healthcare facility is Arizona’s first to offer the expertise and equipment necessary to treat patients with complex medical conditions like cancer, hemophilia and kidney disease. The clinic also specializes in providing comprehensive oral healthcare to patients whose physical or developmental disabilities require dentists with advanced training. Expected to treat 7,500 people in its first year, the clinic began seeing patients in July.
Dr. Maureen Romer, associate dean of post-doctoral education at ATSU’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH)—Arizona’s first dental school, founded in 2003—directs the clinic, which the school operates. A nationally known expert in special care dentistry, Dr. Romer is a past president of the Special Care Dentistry Association and has earned the association’s highest level of recognition, Diplomate. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Dentistry for Persons with Disabilities.
Said Dr. Romer: “ATSU’s Advanced Care Clinic fills a major gap in Arizona’s oral healthcare needs. Until now, some residents with complex medical situations and special needs had to go outside the state to get the care they required, while others got no care at all. In opening this facility, A.T. Still University reaffirms its commitment to oral health as an integral part of overall health, as well as its determination to provide the highest quality of care to society’s most vulnerable.”
In addition to offering dental care to patients with cancer, hemophilia, kidney disease, organ transplants and other highly complex medical conditions, the clinic treats patients, including those with disabilities, whose general dental needs are complicated and require a team of dental specialists.
The new clinic has been outfitted with over $1 million in state-of-the-art equipment and technology, like 3D imaging. There are five dental operating suites, including one designed for patients who weigh more than 350 pounds. Extra-wide doorways make it easy for power wheelchairs to move through the facility, while reception and consultation areas are able to accommodate several power chairs at once.
In addition to serving as an out-patient dental facility, the clinic will be a training center in special care dentistry for ATSU-ASDOH students. Supervised by faculty members, third- and fourth-year dental students will spend time treating clinic patients alongside dental residents in the school’s Advanced Education in General Dentistry post-graduate program.
(In keeping with ATSU’s mission to care for America’s underserved, ATSU-ASDOH students spend most of their third year working with Arizona citizens at the school’s two reduced-cost clinics—one on ATSU’s Mesa campus and the other in Glendale, Az. Fourth-year students spend a semester embedded at community health centers around the country.)
Like its other dental clinics, ATSU’s Advanced Care Clinic accepts most insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid, and offers reduced-fee services.
Additional information about A.T. Still University’s Advanced Care Clinic is available at www.atsu.edu/thecenter.
How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats
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.
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.
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.