May 17, 2020

Is Your Hospital Ready to Take On the Holidays?

Hospital Leadership
Hospital Leadership
3 min
The holidays can be a stressful time of year. Be sure your hospital management team is in tip-top shape to avoid any mishaps.
Running a healthy hospital takes a great staff, top-notch facilities, and a medical practice management system that is designed with functionality in mi...

Running a healthy hospital takes a great staff, top-notch facilities, and a medical practice management system that is designed with functionality in mind.

With that said, if your hospital's management system isn't making the grade, you might need to prescribe it some beneficial upgrades.

As the following article shows, here are 4 things your medical practice management system needs:

1. Intuitive Scheduling

Juggling your staff's schedules is one thing, but tracking your patients' schedules is something else entirely.

Because the number of visitors that walk through your hospital's doors fluctuates all the time, it's important to have a management system that has a real understanding of the scheduling process.

With intuitive scheduling, your management software can track patient waiting room lists in real time, create reports based on pre and post visitations, and schedule upcoming appointments based on your physicians' future availability.

In addition, intuitive scheduling can also help in the registration process by capturing patient data more efficiently and managing it properly.

2. Improved Billing

If your current medical practice management system doesn't have the ability to manage billing cycles, then it's time to make a change.

With billing management, your system can simplify the billing process for the finance department and your patients, which results in accelerated payments and fewer delinquencies.

Improved billing management creates itemized statements that are straightforward and easy to understand.

In addition, billing management can also track a number of payment options, which allows your patients to pay their medical bills in almost any form they desire. Payments are also posted immediately, which decreases the need for collections.

3. Insurance Tracking

Health insurance plays a huge role in the health care process, so your hospital needs a management system that tracks insurance information for each and every patient.

With insurance eligibility software, your medical practice system can automatically verify your patients' insurance records. This decreases the chances of invalid insurance benefits.

Insurance eligibility software can also verify your patients' insurance in real time, which makes the registration process that much faster.

Additionally, insurance software also provides details about the type of coverage, which allows your staff to better inform and better treat your patients based on their health insurance.

4. Patient Record Management

Managing your patients' records is one of the most important aspects of running a hospital.

One false move in the records system could set your hospital back and disrupt the service you provide your visitors. Fortunately, your hospital can improve its record-keeping by taking advantage of record management software.

Record management software will improve your overall medical practice system by managing medical history, documentation, and other patient information all in one place. This includes tracking financial and insurance eligibility, patient demographics, and health alerts including any medical allergies your patients may have.

Management System with You in Mind

At the end of the day, you want a medical practice system with your hospital in mind.

This means a system that features the benefits above as well as features like task management and dashboards with real-time updates that your staff can rely on.

When you upgrade your management system, look for these features; don't settle for anything less.

When it comes to a healthy practice, keep in mind these four things your hospital needs.

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

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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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