Don’t believe us, believe the industry…

February 21, 2017

Much talk has been made about the evolution of technology in healthcare. Many called for the transformation in 2009 & 2010, but as Todd Sullivan cites in his article, Healthcare is having an Ernest Hemingway moment, the transformation was not instant.

“Gradually… and then suddenly.”  

Todd discusses how digitization is now the foundation of the industry, forging the path for innovation and leveraging technology to drive the business of healthcare forward.

Perhaps the biggest byproduct of the digitization Todd references is the sudden move into consumerization. The life line of any hospital is patients. The goal is to gain and retain the number of patients that will generate profits. The traditional way to attract patients is to feature top-shelf physicians.  Better doctors will attract more patients. But thanks to digitization of not just healthcare, but the world, there’s a new way to attract patients. By allowing patients to be more connected to their care, Providers and Payers can create sounder relationships with their members and patients, and thereby more easily add and retain their loyalty.  

We must note that the modern patient is also a “modern consumer.”  I remember back in the 80s as a kid going to pizza and McDonalds after my soccer games.  My brother and I would ask our parents to take us to the drive-thru to pick up a couple of Big Macs.  When we got home, we’d eat those burgers in seconds, with zero regard for the veracity of the product. There were only 2 items on our criteria to meet:

  • Does it taste good?
  • Does it fill my stomach?

I’m now a father of 2 beautiful girls (no hyperbole, they’re beautiful -  I have no idea how I am responsible for such pristine cell formation), with an equally beautiful wife who, like me, is a helicopter parent.  I can assure you that nothing goes into our girls’ mouths without us not only knowing what is in the product, but all the details around how the product was produced, shipped and marketed.  No way would I just eat a Big Mac today. I need to know from where the meat came, how it was processed and if the cow was grass-fed or jacked with steroids. The stark difference between Diego 1987 and Diego 2017 is that, as a consumer, I am fully in control. I am an active participant in the creation of what I consume.

As a patient, why shouldn’t I have the same thing? The healthcare provider who grants me this ability will be my hospital for life. The health insurance that grants me this ability will be my health insurance for life. I most certainly care which hospital has the best doctor, but I also care about how much control over my care that hospital will give me.

Thanks to meaningful use and the digitization that Todd Sullivan talks about in his article, we can see how healthcare providers and payers are looking to leverage next generation applications to appeal to the modern consumer and drive healthcare to the consumer. It is no surprise that one of the overriding themes of HIMSS 2017 is how to make pop health and consumerization a reality (see Jack McCarthy’s article Population Care Management Symposium at HIMSS17…).

My father was a politician in South America in the 70s. If there was one thing he learned along the way was how to be strategically cynical. That’s what he used to call one of his favorite tools- “strategic cynicism.”  He would say, when there’s buzz, excitement, emotion the best way to ensure the buzz continues is to remove roadblocks and lower the volume on the naysayers. Don’t get wrapped up in the emotion. Look around and see who or what is a threat to your ideas and goals. He had this way of throttling things back and looking at the cynical side. Not to be a cynic, but rather to understand what could stop the party.  

So let me be strategically cynical for a moment. What about the obvious risks involved with moving to these new technologies? With next gen apps springing up (cloud-based, on-prem and mobile), that are being accessed from a multitude of devices, by an expanded user-base that includes physicians, non-affiliated users, affiliated users and people like my 62 year old mother whose certified computer literacy barely registers a blip on the radar… are we saying that we’re going to trade cybersecurity for greater access to ePHI so that a patient can better manage his or her care more closely???

In a word: yes.

What’s the problem with that, though?  We’re meeting our consumerization objectives if we do that.

Well, this guy has something to say about it

Leonardo Dicaprio

No, not him! That’s Leo, the actor who played Frank Abagnale in the movie Catch Me if you Can.

I’m talking about this guy: Frank Abagnale!

Frank Abagnale

40-year FBI vet, owner of his own firm, and world recognized as one of the world’s authority on fraud and forgery.

In this article written by Bill Siwicki  What's to Blame... People, not technology , Frank simplifies the security message for all of us by reminding us that People, not Technology, are the source of data breaches. And he’s right, it doesn’t matter how strongly you secure the network, the end-point, or how well you encrypt the data, it’s all about the credentials. Stolen credentials continue to be the best way to steal ePHI. Hackers like Frank know that the best point to attack is at Layer 8- the human level. It is the most fallible step in the security process; and while user education, and awareness continue to be strategies that many organizations employ, they do little to remove this vulnerability. Moreover, as access expands at the rate that it currently is in Healthcare, more humans will enter the equation - many who are not used to being secure or don’t care to follow secure practices.  In a way, technology is prescribing its own demise as it advances and places access in the hands of more people and more devices. It seems that the transformation faces real danger of stopping.

But I said it before, I am only partaking in strategic cynicism. I am merely identifying what pitfalls lie ahead.  Cybersecurity is a threat to growth, and it’s often seen that way by many organizations. In fact, because security is seen as a deterrent to business growth, many organizations fail to deploy technology (like 2-factor authentication) that can prevent the use of stolen credentials.  Of the few that do deploy 2-factor, many deploy simplistic solutions that are not enterprise wide. Many access points are still left open, because the 2-factor solutions either didn’t integrate with the access point, or was deemed too onerous on the user, which stops delivery of health.

The great part, though, is that as Healthcare continues to innovate, so do cybersecurity firms who strive to solve the conundrum of choosing between security and business.  Leading the way in the Preventing the use of Stolen Credentials is SecureAuth Corporation - the only cybersecurity firm who has been able to understand that an organization should not compromise security for business.  By featuring its next generation authentication engine, SecureAuth is able to achieve five 9s of authentication.  Learn more on our healthcare page to see how SecureAuth has removed barriers to security, and has become a catalyst for Healthcare’s transformation.

The truth is, these are fantastic times to be in Healthcare.  It is a privilege to be among the few who are building this path to higher-tech, better healthcare. And while the challenges are many, and exist in all kinds of forms (cybersecurity, legal, technical, financial), the excitement is too great, the need to profound, and the business too important to be deterred by these classic roadblocks. The important part is to remember that we need to deploy strategic technologies that will help us overcome these challenges that will evolve in the same way that healthcare continues to evolve.  With an eye on the future, with some sound planning and with some strategic cynicism we will get where we want to be the right way.

Want to learn more? Join us at HIMSS 2017 in Orlando at Booth 376-04 or Contact us to explore the flexibility of SecureAuth

  • Healthcare

Ready for a Demo?

Eliminate identity-related breaches with SecureAuth!