May 17, 2020

The Secret to Motivating Patients to Exercise More

Patient Care
Patient Care
3 min
Moderate cardio and strength exercises are the key to a happy, healthy life that don't require as many visits to the doctor.
If your hospital keeps encountering patients with repeat health problems, then it's time to encourage them to exercise more.Moderate cardio and stre...

If your hospital keeps encountering patients with repeat health problems, then it's time to encourage them to exercise more. Moderate cardio and strength exercises are the key to a happy, healthy life that don't require as many visits to the doctor.

When it comes to long-term health, here are just a few ways you can get your patients to exercise more.

Following Protocol

Encouraging your patients to exercise seems like common sense, but making the suggestion could break hospital protocol.

Your hospital's management team needs to be aware that doctors, nurses, and staffers could get themselves in hot water when it comes to suggesting exercise to patients.

Political correctness must come first in a professional medical environment and telling patients to keep up with their fitness could come off as an offensive statement.

With that said, it's perfectly fine for your medical staff to ask patients if they exercise regularly. This question will naturally lead to a conversation about the importance of exercise for one's health.

Health and Fitness Pamphlets

Leaving informational pamphlets on exercise, fitness routines, and healthy eating is a perfectly acceptable way to spread the wellbeing word with patients.

Chances are your hospital already stocks its waiting rooms with pamphlets on a number of medical concerns and issues.

By adding a fitness pamphlet to the mix, you can inform your patients about the benefits of fitness without directly suggesting the health change. Within the pamphlet, you can also recommend that interested patients ask their physicians about adopting a fitness routine.

Exercise Pointers

Patients will likely show an interest in exercise and improving their health, so it's important to have pointers on standby.

These include the types of exercise activities that are appropriate for your patients as well as at-home equipment that might help in the pursuit for fitness.

For example, for patients who need to improve their cardio health, suggesting they use a step counter such as those found at major retailers like Walmart and other such providers when walking or jogging will help them keep track of their progress.

Or, if a patient needs to increase their strength training, resistance bands are another great suggestion. In other words, giving patients helpful exercise pointers will help them safely reach their fitness goals.

Health Checkups

Before your hospital puts any patients on a fitness program, it's crucial to perform health checkups first.

A health checkup will ensure that patients are fit for exercise. Whether cardio, strength training, or a combination of the two, routine checkups will also ensure the exercise routines your patients utilize aren't negatively affecting their health.

Hospital Fitness Programs

There are already a number of hospitals across the country that encourage their patients' well-being by providing onsite fitness centers and wellness programs.

Lake Forest Hospital in Chicago, Illinois for example has a Health and Fitness Center that's open to all patients.

Winchester Hospital in North Boston also has Wellness and Fitness programs that help patients improve their health through regular exercise.

Likewise, Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri has a personal training exercise program for its patients.

When it comes to the health of your patients, encouraging them to exercise is a step in the right direction.

With that in mind, what is your hospital doing to assist patients in getting more exercise?

About the author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including personal health and exercise. 

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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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