May 17, 2020

Top 5 Ways Your Hospital Can Save Money

Admin
3 min
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Written by Amy Morin 5 Areas Our Hospital Could Be Saving Money On Despite high healthcare costs, hospitals still operate on a very tight budget. Some...

Written by Amy Morin

 

5 Areas Our Hospital Could Be Saving Money On

Despite high healthcare costs, hospitals still operate on a very tight budget.

Sometimes people fear cost-cutting efforts will negatively impact patient care or staff morale.

There are some ways in which hospitals can trim their budgets while still providing high quality, and sometime even better, care to patients.

1. Implement a Wellness Program for Staff

Sometimes hospitals forget to look at the costs that staff’s illness can have on the budget. A wellness program for staff can greatly reduce health insurance premiums and sick time.

Hospitals can encourage the staff to take care of their health by offering reduced or free gym memberships.

They can also encourage participation in weight loss support groups or meetings with nutritionists. Members who choose to participate can receive reduced healthcare costs.

Obesity isn’t the only thing wellness plans should target. Hospitals can also offer incentives for disease management.

For example, members who have diabetes can benefit from education to help them manage their symptoms.  A healthier hospital staff will not only save money, it will allow staff to provide optimal patient care.

2. Conserve Water

Water can be a huge cost for most hospitals. Installing low-flow faucets and showerheads can help conserve a lot of water.

Fixing leaking toilets and dripping sinks can be an excellent investment that can save vast amounts of water and money over the course of a year.

3. Conserve Electricity

Hospitals often waste a lot of electricity. In addition to many large appliances, hospitals usually have hundreds of TVs and thousands of lights.

Replacing appliances with energy star appliances can lead to a big savings. For example, replacing the washers and dryers alone can save thousands of dollars in electricity costs.

Often, many rooms are lit up whether or not they‘re being used. Meeting rooms, waiting rooms and bathrooms are often left with the lights on. Installing motion sensors on the lights can help ensure that lights are turned off when rooms are vacant.

4. Provide Case Management

Case managers can save hospitals money by reducing unnecessary admissions.

Sometimes hospitals don’t receive reimbursement for admissions that aren’t proven to be medically necessary. However, without suitable placements, hospitals have to continue to care for patients until they can safely be discharged from the hospital.

Case managers can work with patients and their families to find them appropriate services.

For example, a family may decide they can no longer care for an elderly patient at home. However, they may not be certain how to find a nursing home so they take the patient to the hospital. Insurance likely won’t cover the hospital admission. A case manager could have assisted the family in obtaining nursing care on an outpatient basis.

Case managers can provide outreach and link families to services in the emergency department, on the medical units and at the time of discharge.

Over the course of a year, case managers may be able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

5. Monitor Overtime Pay

It’s important to find the right balance of hospital staff that will give the staff plenty of hours but also won’t result in too much overtime. Hospitals can monitor the overtime pay and look for opportunities to reduce how much extra staff are earning.

Hiring per diem employees can reduce costs when the patient census is high.

Travelling nurses can be a great option for hospitals who find they are in need of increased staff. Maintaining the right balance of employees helps hospitals manage their budgets.

Sometimes it takes some creativity to help reduce hospital costs.

It can be done however, and it doesn’t need to negatively impact patient care or staff morale.

 

About the Author

Amy Morin writes about parenting, psychology and money management.

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Jun 13, 2021

How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats

#Cybersecurity
#cyberattacks
#digitaltransformation
#covid19
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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