How Startups are Changing Health Care (and 5 Tips to Help You Integrate)
When we read about the unbridled success of Uber, Airbnb and Task Rabbit, we immediately think startups and we most likely believe that these businesses have no relevance to health care. But their model of doing business—working within the sharing/collaborative economy – is gaining traction in all business sectors; and health care will be no exception.
This business model of the sharing/collaborative economy is predicated on the preferences of consumers to rent, borrow, swap, trade and/or share goods and services rather than buy and own them – all made possible by the community of the internet. This model emphasizes access over ownership, and consumers’ needs are still being met without costly asset investment and acquisition.
Wherever you are in the health care continuum, whether you are a health care professional such as a doctor or nurse, a hospital administrator, a marketing agency, or a pharmaceutical or medical device company, applying the principles of the sharing/collaborative economy can offer a more efficient way to maximize your underutilized assets.
Here are the top 5 things to initiate sharing into your health care organization now:
1. Access is more important than ownership.
Do you really need to own that? Maintaining in-house resources and existing structures when they are not 100 percent utilized or may become outdated is a waste. We can no longer afford to have fixed assets that may or may not meet our business needs at any given time.
“Sharing” can mean initiating systems that offer open/transparent data that makes it easy for staff to share and promote access to goods and services across your business networks.
Imagine a scenario where assets are utilized and paid on a per-use basis, rather than owning them outright. Innovative hospitals have already initiated systems where hospital staff such as doctors and nurses are utilized at different locations, and diagnostics equipment is shared among hospitals. These initiatives enable health systems two significant benefits; to be more judicious in their purchasing by better utilizing the assets they own as well as to have access to more specialized equipment that they cannot justify the cost and ROI if they owned it outright.
2. Share talent.
Utilize talent for what they do best and don’t waste time and money having expensive talent performing jobs less expensive people can do. And at any given time, some talent is over utilized and others underutilized which means that many of our companies are understaffed, or more accurately said, incorrectly staffed.
Search across the network to find the best person to do the right job, at the right time, for the right price.
Allowing for access to the right talent at the right time, without the financial burden of fixed salary costs means you save money and provide superior results.
3. Engage Millennials in the way they want – not in the way you are accustomed to.
The Millennial generation is already living by sharing principles. Technology has empowered them to compete against huge corporations, organizations, and the media. Millennials don’t care about the old way of doing things, and as a result, they are redefining brand experience to when they want or need them.
Take the time to get to know your Millennial staff and learn about small changes you can make in your business today to serve their needs and engender their loyalty
4. Disrupt outdated ways of doing business.
Disruption is not all about destroying. It may be that sharing already exists within your business, so connect the dots. Who is already sharing and determine how others internally can adopt their best practices. Consider sharing champions who can serve as ambassadors to encourage uptake of this business model.
Identify the barriers to sharing. What must be changed in team structure, HR and Legal to drive sharing? Identify the siloes within which your businesses operate and what can be shared.
Consider all possibilities, even if this means rethinking the sacred cow – revenues.
5. Share revenues.
If we do not share profits when we share talent and assets – all this will fail. Develop new revenue streams by sharing or lending resources. Reward your partners for helping you win or grow business. Incentivize your partners to share their best people and assets.
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.