May 17, 2020

Why Hospitals Need To Engage With Social Media

3 min
Why Should Hospitals Engage With Social Media?
Written byAdamGroff Read the July Edition of Healthcare Global here Social networking is all about bringing people together, so its not surprising tha...

Written by Adam Groff


Read the July Edition of Healthcare Global here

Social networking is all about bringing people together, so it’s not surprising that healthcare and social media are a perfect fit.

Patients that are able to easily connect with hospitals and clinics outside routine visits feel as though their doctors and hospital staff are going the extra mile to ensure good health. And, thanks to social media, staying connected outside the exam room really does have a positive effect on patient/doctor relationships.

With social media medicine in mind, here are just a few reasons why hospitals should adopt social networking if they have not already >>>

An Improved Patient Experience

As stated before, patients appreciate the expert knowledge that hospitals provide, but scheduling an appointment for the purposes of advice just isn’t feasible. Luckily, with social media, patients are able to post health questions for specific doctors or the staff as a whole.

Just think, patients can follow or friend their doctors, hospitals can setup Facebook fan pages, and there’s no end to the possibilities when it comes to scheduling and confirming upcoming appointments.

With social media, hospitals are better able to connect and form relationships with patients on a digital level.

Listening and Learning

By monitoring what patients are saying via social media, hospitals are able to pinpoint issues and act accordingly by responding promptly and politely.

Besides, social media has quickly become a way for people to vent, which gives hospitals an opportunity to discover problem areas and appease patient frustrations.

Likewise, hospitals can take advantage of social media by posting specific questions about patient services and past experiences.

So, if there’s a certain doctor lacking bedside manner, if wait times are astronomical, or even if the hospital food is awful, hospitals can find out directly from patients via social media and then take action.

Newsletters for a New Era

Hospitals that connect with patients through social media have an easier time relaying information much like a monthly newsletter. Except, with social media, topics and information are delivered on a continuously updated basis.

This is great for hospitals wanting to go the extra mile to ensure patient health.

With social media, hospitals are able to notify patients of certain health concerns during flu season, share healthcare and healthy eating tips, and even introduce new and existing doctors, nurses, and other personnel by providing staff profiles.

Industry Leadership

When it comes to healthcare and social networking, hospitals have only scratched the surface.

This gives hospitals, clinics, and healthcare organizations of all kinds the opportunity to become industry leaders in the digital age of patient care.

Social media is a blank canvas for hospitals willing to discover new and improved ways to stay connected with patients and bring worlds together.

Whether it’s through engaging content, informative social updates, tracking and monitoring patient concerns, following other leaders in the healthcare industry, or simply messaging patients in recovery to see how they’re feeling, social media sets hospitals apart.

When hospitals turn to social media, they’re not only becoming part of the digital revolution, they’re becoming a part of their patients’ lives as well.


About the Author

Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including personal health, payroll services, and social media.

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Jun 15, 2021

Why are healthcare networks so vulnerable to attacks? 

5 min
Elisa Costante from Forescout Technologies gives us the lowdown on how vulnerabilities in the healthcare sector happen, and how to secure them

Forescout Research Labs has published a study on the vulnerabilities impacting the healthcare industry’s connected devices. The research division of Forescout Technologies has published the report as part of its Project Memoria, and it reveals that healthcare organisations are affected five times more by TCP/IP vulnerabilities than any other sector. 

Elisa Costante, a software engineer and Forescout's Vice President of Research, explains why this is and how to prevent it. 

What is Project Memoria? 
Project Memoria aims to improve the security of TCP/IP stacks and understand what  the main security issues are. TCP/IP stacks are a very core component of every network device, whether it's an iPhone connected to the internet, or a robot controlling  the process of manufacturing. If they're connected to the internet they need to have a piece of software controlling communication. 

There are several variants of this software and we're analysing them to understand if they have security bugs or vulnerabilities that if misused by attackers, could lead to disruption of the device itself, and to the network at large. Our goal is to make the industry aware of the problem, and engage with stakeholders as well as the customers. 

Why is healthcare particularly vulnerable? 
This is what the data is telling us. We have a device cloud, which is like a data lake of device information. This device cloud has a lot of information about the devices, like who the vendor is, what the role of the network is, and which vertical this is. We are able to leverage this information, and join it with the intelligence we have from Project Memoria to understand which devices are vulnerable. 

We found that in healthcare there was a huge spike in the number of devices that are vulnerable - as much as  five times more than in other verticals. The reason seems to be because of the number of devices, and because of the intrinsic difficulty of addressing the problem. 

The problem surrounding TCP/IP stacks is that there is not one single vendor that is vulnerable; on average, a healthcare organisation has 12 vendors that are vulnerable. 
Let's say that on average we have 500 devices per healthcare organisation.  Then you need to contact 12 vendors for each of these. These vendors then need to issue a patch to secure the device, and this patch cannot just be automatically delivered and installed in 500 devices. You have to be realistic and think about whether each of the devices  is critical, for example if it goes down will it turn the lighting system off, or stop the MRI machine from working. 

Patches are very complex to deploy. On top of that, the patch needed might not even be available.  That's why we want to understand this problem better  so we can provide solutions. 

How much of the responsibility of keeping a device secure lies with the vendor? 
There are responsibilities that lie with all the different stakeholders, and one of these is  the vendor. There might be multiple vendors involved, which makes it very complex  from a management perspective. 

For instance the device at the end of the chain, which might be an MRI, contains a board that has a connectivity module, and this has one of the stacks that is vulnerable, which could have four different vendors. 

If the vendor responsible for the TCP/IP stack releases a patch, this patch has to go down the chain. We identified chains with a length of six vendors, so you can imagine how complex this is. Some vendors have good hygiene security and some don't because they don't know how to deal with it - they need training. 

This is a new issue related to the software bill of materials, which is being tabled for legislation at the moment to create policies regarding the complexity of the supply chain. We need to shed light on this issue so that legislators can put these policies in place to help with security.  

What can healthcare providers do themselves to stay secure? 
Visibility is important; they need to know what they have in their network. In the case of vulnerable devices they should find out if there's a patch available. If there isn't, because it's an old device for example, but it's still critical to the system, they may want to isolate it so it only communicates with the devices it really needs to. 

Interestingly enough, our research found that most of the healthcare organisations we analysed had a flat network, which means they don't have isolated devices. For instance, a drugs dispensing machine, which you typically find in pharmacies,  is connected to a building automation light system, which is connected to a switch. This is also connected to an IoT sensor device. Why would you have all of them together in the same place? 
The first step is having this information, which often comes as a surprise. Then you can take action; you can segment a network, and if you can't do that you can control the network's access by isolating devices that are risky.

How can Forescout help healthcare organisations? 
Forescout is uniquely positioned to help. We provide visibility end-to-end, which means having a full inventory of devices that includes quite granular detail, so they can know what the operating system is, who the vendor is and so on. Then we enable them to do network segmentation. 

This enables organisations to write policies around how to secure their networks, for example if a device is vulnerable specify which connected devices must be isolated, or which device it must communicate with exclusively. 

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