Cyber Security in Healthcare.

It is commonly understood that the recent UK hacking situation in the NHS, was via its connected machinery, rather than direct into the hospital servers. We focus on what’s up at the forthcoming conference in San Francisco, with this  timely announcement from Tel Aviv based company Cynerio, who today announced its mission to protect the future of healthcare by focusing on its weakest link – the connected medical device ecosystem.

What they say is, by building a tailor-made solution for healthcare providers, they deliver  complete visibility into a healthcare organization’s medical device ecosystem, protecting it from cyber threats and helping the organization meet HIPAA regulatory requirements.

The company was founded by cybersecurity experts Leon Lerman, CEO, and Daniel Brodie, CTO, to deliver a cybersecurity solution specially designed for healthcare providers, based on the industry’s first technology that combines device behavior modeling with medical workflow analysis to provide full visibility into medical device behavior and activity on the network, accurately detect anomalies with deep understanding of the medical context and stop the threat to ensure patient safety and data protection.

“Connected medical devices are delivering a new level of patient care, but present new challenges of managing and securing the growing clinical ecosystem. For attackers, medical devices are easy targets, as the devices aren’t built with security in mind and healthcare security teams have limited ability to protect these devices with traditional IT security solutions that are more focused on standard platforms. Our technology offers a comprehensive solution, purposely built to protect the medical device ecosystem and their sensitive data,” explained Lerman.

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH MAKING DECISIONS?

We look at the increasing lack of leadership in our UK Public Services, and its negative impact – and we say; its time to do something.

The question really is; “why”, – is it necessary to do something? Public Services are not going to disappear overnight. Whether you take a week to do nothing at all – or a year – will not necessarily impact on your own job. It might, however, impact on someone else’s life – but as a Clinical Director told me recently – “I have a nice house, and nice holidays; why am I putting myself on the line?”

Lack of decision-making means that the people who we entrust to look after us, provide our essential services, and who we had hoped would go the extra mile – have no need to do so. This results either in a lack of engagement, where – according to a colleague of mine recently moved from the private sector into local government – that her colleagues already had their coats on by 16.58 each day… or an increasing level of stress related absence through the paralysis of moving things forward, in times of increasing pressure and demand for the very services they feel unable to deliver.

It’s not our job here to tell others how to do their job. But it is our job to explain the damage that simply putting things off, keeping things the same, and hoping that maybe tomorrow things will work out – doesn’t fly. Particularly as we are moving, and have moved – into an arena of “personalised service”, where our individual use of personal data, our smartphones, our iPads, our fitness trackers – means that technology exists to deliver great improvements in quality of pubic service.

As Bogi Eliasen of the CIFS in Copenhagen said at the HIMSS Conference almost one year ago – by harnessing the data that is flowing, in realtime, across our desks every minute – we can better employ our people, enable them to make decisions related to the data that they themselves have access to, reduce the stress in our places of work – and actually do what the public are asking us, and expect us – to do.

Because – the fact is – we no longer have the option of simply throwing more people, and more cash, to continue doing things the way we always have – because it just doesn’t work any longer. There are just too many people living longer, with too many orthopaedic ailments, exponential rises in diabetes sufferers, that having a few more nurses, a few more clinics, some more phone-lines – can never hope to keep pace with the needs of society that are getting worse.

It is for this reason that the recent PR from NHS England, about its new Diabetes Partnerships, – is like adding an Elastoplast to cover my broken leg. It misses the fundamental point. Hospitals that prefer to use in house resources rather than engage with specialist IT help, are simply putting off the moment of truth – that we have reached a tipping point.

What we have seen is that, due to the new personal focus of our provision of services, we need to move out of the “silo” mentality of me doing my job, and you can do yours. We need to start looking at how we treat society as a whole, in particular the mix of Community based solutions linked to (say) hospital services.

In the same way that “if you always do what you always did – you will always get, what you always got~’ so it is obvious that our current ways of doing things, at just about every area of Management that we have looked at for this Article – simply do not deliver the results that society is increasingly asking for.

This means investment in new technologies, that are proven, and that can link performance to results and to costs. The technology exists and has done for some time. The question tho – is whether our Social and Public Service leaders can take the lead and deliver what the rest of us are asking. After all – they have nice houses and nice holidays to go to. We wouldn’t want them to risk all that, now would we?

IS EXPEDIENCY THE BARRIER TO PROGRESS IN UK HOSPITALS?

We look at the established management processes in Uk hospitals, and ask – are they no longer fit for purpose? And if not – what can be done?

If hospitals are going to continue to be relevant – then from the recent  interviews and discussions we have had – hospital Management need to change their way of dealing with things. This conclusion is sometimes hidden in the general anarchy of most hospitals. And to be fair, there is always going to be frisson among people. So it is difficult to see when the moment arrives, that “something actually has to be done,” in that it can’t be put off any longer.

This article was born out of two things; first, the use of mobile data and mobile computing, that transfers ownership of the medical process from the hospital, to the patient; and second, the absolute need to reduce costs, in a hospital. I am going to answer this back to front.

The “reducing costs” argument simply says “well, we carry on as we are”. This does not work, but it does give the impression of not spending new money. It also panders to the complete lack of accountable decision making in so many UK hospitals. What’s there not to love?

Ironically, the more problematic, is the hospital that at last tries to do something about things, – and employs third party professional advice. This generally produces great Reports which can be signed off by Management, but it also produces recommendations to acquire new IT – which if this is from a framework, will already be out of date; or worse, will require months of Consulting to render useful the Consulting company’s favourite technology. Conventional thinking says that It is in no Consulting companies’ commercial interests, simply to produce a Report. But maybe it is; the role of the Consulting company is about Business Process – not about Clinical IT

The Game Changer is the first point above; the transfer of decision making to the Patient, or “consumer”, – has given rise to a plethora of more Apps, and iPad based processes, that no longer require the bits of flex and late nights trying to cobble together disparate linked systems. The good people of Apple and Google have done it all for us, thanks for asking.

What is more important, is that it is now possible to link costs of processes, with improved patient care.

In theory – this is not a difficult step. The problem, tho – is that Hospitals need to take that step, and engage in a completely new set of discussions, where there are no rules, and adopt flexible practices that need not be set in stone. It has to be this way, because patient lifestyles are changing with ever increasing frequency.

We see increasingly large numbers of ordinary people voting with their feet, so to say, and paying money that many cannot afford, for routine services now offered by the private sector. We also see increases in regional populations and increased demand from elderly people, that can be better managed remotely. In that case, it is entirely conceivable that we will obtain our healthcare from anywhere in the world. Who needs our hospitals anyway?

This would be a pity. Clinical excellence depends on excellence at all levels of the management process. UK Hospitals have been amongst the best in the world. It is entirely possible for them to remain so.