IT security remains a key issue as companies continue to evolve their electronic healthcare systems in order to comply with the HITECH Act of 2009. In fact, if a data breach occurs and more than 500 patients are affected as a result, the provider must notify the Department of Health and Human Services and become subject to fines up to $1.5 million. Below are 10 tips to prevent a healthcare data breach.


10 Tips to Prevent a Healthcare Data Breach

1. Conduct a Risk Assessment

Stage One of the CMS meaningful use incentive program requires all providers to conduct a risk assessment of their IT systems. This is in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules that govern the transmission of all electronic patient information. The risk assessment forces providers to review security policies, identify threats and uncover vulnerabilities within the system. This is something healthcare companies should already be doing, but surprisingly many do not. With compliance and security a huge concern in today's business world, this should be a priority.


2. Provide Continued HIPAA Education to Employees

Educate and re-educate employees on current HIPAA rules and regulations. Furthermore, review and share state regulations involving the privacy of patient information. If employees are in the know and reminded of the implications of data breaches, the risk of violation can be drastically reduced. Plus, with the amount of spyware and viruses being created, there is always something new to learn.


3. Monitor Devices and Records

Remind employees to be watchful of electronic devices and/or paper records left unattended. More often than not data breaches occur due to theft of these items from a home, office or vehicle. While it is IT’s job to safeguard patient information, employees should be reminded to do their part in keeping data safe as well. Make sure to always lock your device whether it's a laptop, desktop, or phone and password protect it. You should also enable Multi-Factor Authentication whenever possible.


4. Encrypt Data & Hardware

Encryption technology is key in avoiding data breaches. While HIPAA doesn’t require data to be encrypted, it also does not consider loss of encrypted data a breach. It is certainly advised and therefore, you should encrypt patient information both at rest and in motion to avoid potential penalties. Furthermore, protect hardware such as servers, network endpoints, mobile and medical devices as these items are also vulnerable.


5. Subnet Wireless Networks

Ensure that networks made available for public use do not expose private patient information. One way of achieving this is to create sub-networks dedicated to guest activity and separate more secure networks for medical devices and applications that transmit and carry sensitive patient information.


6. Manage Identity and Access Stringently

With so many members of the healthcare system frequently accessing patient information - for a multitude of different reasons - it is important to carefully manage the identity of users. For instance, make sure users at each level are only granted access to information pertinent to their position and that log on/off procedures are easy on shared machines. Automation of this system helps create a “paper trail” and ensures efficiency and safety for all involved.


7. Develop a Strict BYOD Policy

BYOD or Bring Your Own Device policies should be airtight and follow the same security guidelines outlined above. By enabling measures such as enterprise mobility suite and security, you can ensure each device is safe.


8. Examine Service-Level Agreements Carefully

If you are considering moving patient information and data to the cloud make sure you understand the Service-Level Agreement (SLA) with your potential Cloud Service Provider (CSP). Specifically, ensure that you, not the CSP own the data and that it can be accessed reliably, securely and more importantly timely (in the event of a crash). Also, verify that the SLA complies with HIPAA and state privacy laws.


9. Hold Business Associates Accountable for IT Security Policies

It is imperative to update business associate agreements to reflect evolving federal and state privacy regulations. Healthcare organization often have hundreds or even thousands of vendors with access to patient data. In the event of a breach, the healthcare provider is ultimately responsible. Therefore, hold BAs accountable for providing security and risk assessments and develop processes for reporting breaches.


10. Establish a Good Legal Counsel

In the event of a data breach, your organization will be investigated and most likely fined by the Office for Civil Rights. Lawsuits from patients will also ensue so be sure to be prepared from a legal standpoint. Compliance is key, so don’t be advised to withhold known information about the breach.

Impacting Care Through Innovative Technology 

To learn how Managed Solution can help you prevent a data breach and improve your overall IT security, contact us today.

Let's face it, a lot of doctors hate their computers. After reading through the article published by the New Yorker, I couldn't help but notice a lot of similarities in the various stories of different health professionals (nurses, health admins, neurosurgeons, etc) that are struggling with the adoption of new technologies in their fields. There seemed to be quite a few similar themes and patterns with each story. More and more organizations are adopting various technologies, and those technologies are rapidly advancing and always changing, so it can definitely be hard to keep up. However, instead of getting frustrated as an end user or forcing technology onto your organization "because it's the next greatest thing" as a leader -- you should have a strategy in place as well as an open mind.

Technology is a powerful thing and if implemented or used improperly, it can have adverse effects.  However, when done the right way, it can be life-changing, especially in the field of health and medicine. I've compiled a list of health professional's generalized complaints and frustrations, and how embracing technology can actually help solve the very problems the users seem to be encountering.

"A 2016 study found that physicians spend 2 hours doing computer work for every hour spent face to face with a patient growing the average workday to 11.5 hours"

Listen, no one wants an 11.5 work day. No one wants to have to do monotonous tasks that seem trivial or repetitive. That's not what technology is here to do. One of technology's main roles in your organization should be to automate and essentially increase productivity. For this, it starts at the top. The new technologies need to be rolled out properly by the organization's leaders. When introducing a new technology to your company, make sure there is significant training beforehand and deploy the technology in small groups. Start with one department and learn about their challenges and successes and build from there. Make sure there are plenty of resources and a support team for them to reference once completely immersed into using this technology on a regular basis. For example, one thing Managed Solution does for new Office 365 users is offer a Customer Immersion Experience (CIE). This is a hands-on discovery of the Microsoft Office tools. It's not a demo. It's not a presentation. We allow the new users to use dummy devices with real-life scenarios built into the devices and they experience it as if it was their own. We also only do this in groups of up to 12 users for one-on-one interaction. With this kind of implementation, we see user adoption increase incredibly versus those who don't. Oftentimes, when migrating and not opting for a CIE, we have customers come back and ask for it months later to ensure their teams are using the tools correctly.

"During the implementation phase, IT folks logged 27,000 help desk tickets"

Now that is a whole lot of support tickets! How could this have been prevented? Again, it begins with the training and deployment of the new systems, services, and tools. I can't emphasize enough to take things slowly and adopt one shiny new toy at a time. Migrate your data and information in phases. Test, test, test and then test again before rolling new software out to an entire organization or even an entire department, depending on the size. Start with small groups. As a leader of an organization or department, it's important to get feedback from those actually using the new software. How they use it in their day to day is going to be vastly different than a VP or CEO or someone in another department. That said, as a leader be sure to get input and consistently check in for feedback. As a user, make your challenges known as early as possible to reduce the probability of others running into the same one. At the end of the day, this technology should increase the users' productivity, not become a burden so it's important to communicate both challenges (and successes) to share with others.

"The new software/tool/etc allows multiple organizations/people to modify information you've already input."

There might not be anything more frustrating than doing your work and having someone else completely override it, whether intentionally (no matter if it was good intentions) or accidentally. There's no good in having to do the same work twice, especially when it's taking up hours of your time. To avoid this, you need to make sure you have identity management implemented.  Identity management determines whether a user has access to systems, but also sets the level of access and permissions a user has on a particular system. For instance, a user may be authorized to access a system but be restricted from some of its components. Another example is that your administrative assistant could have access to view certain documents or files, but only you can edit them. There becomes a chain of hierarchy and roles that allow for certain rights and access. Lastly, any modifications or changes should be backed up and stored somewhere in an archive that is easily referenceable to those who would need it.

Employees getting burnt out by technology is no surprise but shouldn't be so common. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are spending too much time trying to input data or find the right data, and not enough time with their patients, family or friends. With the work they are doing, if anyone deserves a work/life balance, it's them. We need to make sure we're equipping them with the right training, the right deployment schedule, the right resources and support throughout the technology adoption.  This could all start with building out the right technology roadmap. A technology roadmap or an IT roadmap can look one year or even three years ahead to plan for the adoption of new infrastructure, systems, and technologies. It outlines budget, timeline, adoption phases and more. Having this all outlined in paper and agreed upon by leadership helps to ensure success in the long run.

While in the short-term, there will be many headaches, especially for generations who didn't grow up using email, AOL Instant Messenger or Facebook. However, aren't most things challenging when we first start them? Change is never easy - it's not supposed to be. We need change. We thrive on change. Albert Einstein once said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results." Without acceptance for change, there cannot be growth. What would happen if we always gave up when things were hard?

It comes down to focusing on the long game. Create a deployment schedule. Implement training. Have multiple training sessions. Roll out things in small doses. Just like some doctors have to wean some patients off medication, they need to be slowly introduced onto technology and increase their technology dosage. Little by little, increase the functionality, increase the availability of new software and they can more easily adapt.

Lastly, I'd like to end on a positive note. Instead of looking at all the negative that these technological advancements may be bringing to the world of healthcare, let's look at positives: You can now remotely check vital signs of a patient recovering from surgery who's still at the hospital while you're on the go.

  • You can pull up medical history including a list of medications in a few clicks
  • Computerization allows clinicians to help patients in ways that hadn’t been possible before.
    • In one project, doctors are able to scan records to identify people who have been on opioids for more than three months, in order to provide outreach and reduce the risk of overdose.
    • Another effort has begun to identify patients who have been diagnosed with high-risk diseases like cancer but haven’t received prompt treatment. The ability to adjust protocols electronically has let their team roll out changes far faster as new clinical evidence comes in. And the ability to pull up records from all hospitals that use the same software is driving real improvements in care.

Technology is a mighty powerful thing, but technology is empowered by people. Make sure you're empowering your people to leverage the right technologies and offering the right resources to digitally transform your business, leading to growth and success.

Microsoft and partners combine the cloud, AI, research and industry expertise to focus on transforming health care

By Peter Lee as written on


The goal is noble: Empower people to lead healthier lives. And yet, few industries in the world face more complex problems than health care. Disparate and disconnected information systems, the uncertainties within regulatory environments around the world and the inevitable disruptions in core business models all pose perplexing and interlocking challenges.
As we look at some of the challenges in health care, a natural question we ask ourselves is, How can Microsoft bring its capabilities to bear to solve some of these problems?
It’s a big challenge. But we believe technology – specifically the cloud, AI and collaboration and business optimization tools – will be central to health care transformation.
Making a difference in health care will require all that Microsoft can bring, fused with the industry expertise and experience from our partners: leading health care organizations and the companies that serve them.
We are incredibly energized about the opportunities to make a difference in health care. We’ve been listening carefully to our customers and partners within the health care sector, and we’ve heard their message: Let’s work together, innovate together and create solutions that can empower people to lead healthier lives.
Today, we are expanding our commitment to building a healthier future with new initiatives and solutions, making it easier for health industry partners and organizations to use intelligent technology to improve the lives of people around the world.
Healthcare NExT: Fusing research, AI and industry expertise through partners
Healthcare NExT, a new initiative to dramatically transform health care, will deeply integrate greenfield research and health technology product development, as well as establish a new model at Microsoft for strategic health industry partnerships. Through these collaborations between health care partners and Microsoft’s AI and Research organization, our goal is to enable a new wave of innovation and impact using Microsoft’s deep AI expertise and global-scale cloud.
This initiative includes investments in resources for our partners to capture new opportunities to apply AI to healthcare, such as the Microsoft AI in Health Partner Alliance, an expanding group of partners focused on advancing health technology. Alliance members will receive unique training and access to Microsoft technologies, engineering expertise and data sets.
Transforming patient and clinician empowerment with UPMC
The first planned strategic research partnership for Microsoft’s Healthcare NExT initiative is with UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), one of the largest integrated health care delivery networks in the United States. The $13 billion Pittsburgh-based system, comprising more than 25 hospitals, a 3 million-member health plan and 3,600 physicians, will be a core partner in our efforts to improve health care delivery through a series of projects, beginning with a focus on transforming clinician empowerment and productivity. With UPMC’s long track record of clinical and commercial innovation and Microsoft’s expertise in advanced AI capabilities, the two organizations plan to work together to bring innovative new solutions to market, beginning with implementation at UPMC.
“Despite UPMC’s efforts to stay on the leading edge of technology, too often our clinicians and patients feel as though they’re serving the technology rather than the other way around. With Microsoft, we have a shared vision of empowering clinicians by reducing the burden of electronic paperwork and allowing the doctor to focus on the sacred doctor-patient relationship,” said Steven D. Shapiro, M.D., chief medical and scientific officer of UMPC and president of UPMC’s Health Services division.
Additional collaborations from Healthcare NExT include partners applying the cloud, AI and research to some of the biggest problems in health care:
  • HealthVault Insights is a new research-based project designed to allow partners to generate new insights about patient health, drive adherence to care plans and encourage patient engagement powered by the latest scientific advances in machine learning. Tribridge and System C & Graphnet Care Alliance are building on HealthVault Insights to create innovative solutions for patient adherence to provider care plans.
  • Microsoft Genomics is making the sample-to-answer process fast and easy through an Azure-powered genome analysis pipeline and an orchestrated ecosystem of innovative partners including BC Platforms and DNAnexus.
  • Microsoft’s AI health chatbot technology is also a research-based project that will enable partners to build AI-powered conversational health care tools. MDLIVE intends to use our health bot technology to help patients self-triage inquiries before they interact with a doctor via video. Premera Blue Cross, the largest health plan in the Pacific Northwest, plans to use our health bot technology to transform how members can look up information about their health benefits. Health Navigator’s symptom checker brings best practices to other customers and partners.
  • Project InnerEye is a research-based, AI-powered software tool for radiotherapy planning. The goal of the project is to allow dosimetrists and radiation oncologists to achieve 3D contouring of patients’ planning scans in minutes rather than hours. The assistive AI technology gives experts full control of the output accuracy while enjoying high levels of consistency and potential cost savings.
Enabling 21st-century house calls powered by the Microsoft cloud
Microsoft Office 365 Virtual Health Templates provide new functionality to connect people and providers through voice, video and messaging in any interface or application, powered by Skype for Business. The open source templates make it easy for industry partners, developers and enterprises to build solutions to provide care wherever patients may be.
RingMD, Careflow, Cambio and GE Healthcare have built from Office 365 Virtual Health Templates compelling and easy to use experiences.
Addressing health care business optimization with SaaS apps
New services from our partner ecosystem, powered by the Microsoft cloud, help address business process challenges outside of the clinic. Available today is CGI ProperPay for claims analytics. ProperPay provides predictive analytics, rules management and best practices for reducing health care claims fraud, waste and abuse, a $450 billion-plus problem driving up health care costs around the globe. CGI ProperPay for claims analytics joins a growing number of business and engagement applications in the Microsoft AppSource catalog like Tribridge’s Health360 Care Coordination.
Looking to the future
With any significant advance in technology it’s important to consider the unintended consequences, as well as the benefits. At Microsoft, we’re grounding our efforts in a set of core design principles that focus on the human benefit of AI, transparency and accountability. We believe that ethics and design go hand in hand.
Further, we understand that security, privacy, and compliance remain a top priority for health organizations. Microsoft Chief Information Security Officer for Health Hector Rodriguez recently reinforced our commitment to customers highlighting key investments across these core principles of trust in technology.
At the intersection of health, technology and people lies great promise. Our mission is to empower every person and organization to achieve more, and we’re excited to meet many of you next week at HIMSS17 and continue our close partnership in health care to achieve more together. If you’re at HIMSS17 next week in Orlando, Florida, be sure to stop by our booth No. 2509 to see our solutions in action. Follow our HIMSS17 story on @Health_IT to learn more.

Examples of how nurses can improve patient experience with eHealth solutions

By Molly McCarthy as written on
In my last blog, I wrote about what patient experience really means. Ultimately, it’s about instilling in your patients—and their families—confidence and trust in their care.
Patient experience is something that nurses care deeply about. We all entered this profession to make a positive impact on people’s lives, as well as their health and wellness. And the good news is that today’s technologies are empowering nurses to do more to achieve that mission and enhance the experience of patients and their families.
One example comes from the Cardiac High Acuity Monitoring Program (CHAMP) at Children’s Mercy hospital where they’re improving the outcomes of babies with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) by engaging parents with a home monitoring app.
As nurse Lori Erickson writes in her blog, CHAMP is not a club any parent ever wants to be part of. She and her team acknowledge that from the beginning and work to at least make parents’ experience with home monitoring good as they go through the high-risk period between their baby’s first and second surgeries.
To learn how they’re doing that, read Lori’s first blog. And for tips on how to successfully engage people in home monitoring so that you can partner with them to improve their health and quality of life, read her second blog.
Another example comes from OneView Healthcare. It offers solutions for patient engagement and clinical workflow that are helping health organizations like the University of California San Francisco Medical Center at Mission Bay revolutionize the patient experience. To learn how OneView Healthcare was inspired by the founder’s own knee surgery experience, read the story. And to see a video of how OneView Healthcare solutions work, visit its website.
As Elena Casas wrote in her recent blog, when patients can be more engaged in managing their health and care journey, it not only enhances their wellbeing, it also makes their experience with the health system better. She shares examples of how cloud solutions can help nurses engage their patients with the same types of technology people use to manage other areas of their daily lives. Elena also explains how dispersed care teams can connect with each other and see an integrated view of patient information with these solutions, so they can provide people with more cohesive, patient-centered care. Read her blog to learn about the many ways you can take advantage of the cloud to improve the experience of your patients and their families.

10 health IT conferences - managed solution

10 health IT conferences you shouldn’t miss in 2017

By Sarah K. White as written on
From 3D printing to digital records, technology has changed the healthcare industry. If you want to keep up to date on the latest emerging trends in healthcare, there is no shortage of events that will keep you in the loop. Here are 10 health IT conferences you can't miss whether you're a doctor, nurse, health IT pro or C-Level executive.

SX Health & MedTEch Expo

Part of the popular annual SXSW festival, the SX Health & MedTech Expo focuses on latest technologies in healthcare. Covering everything from startups to large corporations, this conference offers the latest innovations and emerging trends in healthcare. While this year's speakers haven't been announced yet, past years have included Bakul Patel, associate center director for digital health at the FDA, and Stanford and Harvard trained physician-scientist, inventor and entrepreneur, Daniel Kraft from Singularity University.
The SX Health and MedTech Expo takes place during the SXSW festival between March 10 and 18 in Austin, Texas, and registration fees vary depending on what level badge you purchase.


Affiliated with the popular TED conference, best-known for its Ted Talks, TedMed operates under a similar format with a focus on healthcare innovation. The conference promises to bridge "the gap between science and the public," through shared stories that help "inform, inspire, engage and provoke action."
This year's TedMed conference takes place in Palm Springs, California, from November 1 to 3, and registration costs $3,450. However, if you register before January 15, you will receive $1,500 off the cost of the registration process.

iHealth 2017 Clinical Informatics Conference

The iHealth Clinical Informatics Conference, held by the AMIA, is targeted at clinicians and informatics professionals, with a focus on innovations with health data and mobile health initiatives. The iHealth 2017 Clinical Informatics Conference takes place in Philadelphia, from May 2 to 4 at the Lowes Philadelphia Hotel. Registration is currently open, and starts at $430 for students, $745 for members and $1,120 for nonmembers; rates go up if you register after March 15.

HIMSS Conference

Targeted at health IT professionals, executives, vendors and clinicians, the HIMSS17 conference promises to offer educational programs, keynote speakers, thought leader discussions, workshops and networking opportunities. This year's keynote speakers include Ginni M. Rometty, chairman, president and CEO of IBM as well as former speaker, John Boehner.
The 2017 HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition takes place in Orlando, Florida, in the Orange County Convention Center February 19-23.

Health 2.0

Health 2.0 conferences, areaimed at everyone from digital innovators to nurses to CIOs. These conferences focus on innovation, networking, emerging trends and you'll find no shortage of impressive keynote speakers at any event. You can find conferences in San Francisco and Santa Clara, CaliforniaBarcelona, Spain and Hyderabad, India. Dates and registration fees vary depending on the conference you choose. Unlike other annual conferences, you don't have to worry if you can't make one Health 2.0 event, because it's likely there is another just around the corner.

Connected Health Conference

Formerly the mHealth Summit, the Connected Health Conference heavily focuses on the digital aspect of healthcare and facilitating healthcare access around the globe. While the 2017 conference hasn't been announced just yet, last year's conference included the chief health officer at IBM, Kyu Rhee, and the vice president of digital health at Fitbit, Adam Pellegrini.
This year's Connected Health Conference doesn't have a date yet, but the last conference took place during December in Washington, D.C. The cost of registration will vary depending on how many sessions you choose to go to, how early you register and how many ad-on sessions you opt for.

Health IT Summit

The Health IT Summit consists of multiple events held throughout the year in 11 states. With events from San Diego to Boston, it's likely there will be one relatively convenient to where you live. Each event consists of keynote speakers, thought leaders, networking and open discussions on the latest trends in healthcare technology.
The next three events in San Diego from January 24 to 25; Cleveland from March 23 to 24 and San Jose from April 13 to 14. Registration fees for government workers or educators start at $995, while the fees for vendors and consultants start at $1,995.

Health Datapalooza

Data is playing a huge part in healthcare IT, and the Health Datapalooza conference is aimed at C-suite leaders in business and government dealing with the changes that data has brought. The conference hopes to start a discussion on privacy, data usage and how to leverage healthcare information to improve systems.
The conference takes place in Washington, D.C., at the Washington Hilton this April 27 to 28. Registration is currently open and rates vary depending on your industry, title and how many days you want to attend. But if you register before February 24, you can save $200 on the fee.

Home Healthcare Leaders' Summit

This conference is exclusively for C-Level executives working in the home-healthcare industry. The conference promises to bring these leaders together to "combat the strategic challenges" that senior management can face in the home-healthcare industry. One major focus of this conference includes the growing amount of technology in the home health industry, and the implications around these digital advancements.
The Home Healthcare Leader's Summit takes place in Los Angeles, CA but the date and registration are currently TBA.

Stanford MedX

The MedX conference takes place on Stanford University's campus each year, focusing on the newest and best technology impacting healthcare. On it's website, Stanford calls the event a "medical education conference designed for everyone," combining "people, technology and design."
This year will only the second annual event, taking place on the Stanford University campus from April 22 to 23. Registration isn't open yet, but you can subscribe to receive updates as the date gets closer.


Healthcare infrastructure will help cure healthcare

By Emmi Kendall as written on
Donald Trump’s election has left many wary of how he’ll respond to a campaign promise to dismantle Obamacare. It seems that select aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, will remain intact. Likely to remain are provisions that make it illegal for insurers to deny a patient’s pre-existing medical conditions and enable children to stay on their parents’ insurance plans through age 26.
While not part of the ACA, structural innovations designed to control cost, such as the shift to value-based care (VBC), a new way of paying doctors and hospitals, will likely continue (more on this later). The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) may cancel their timeline for this shift, slowing momentum. However, private insurance plans and doctors have already changed the way they contract together, making very unlikely a retreat to the old payment model.
Even without a crystal ball of the exact specs of a post-Trump healthcare world, the fundamentals of the healthcare market and the massive forces acting upon it continue to render it an excellent investment opportunity. Specifically, the most near-term and pervasive value-creation area is in infrastructure software, the “glue” that serves as middleware for healthcare.
The persistent truths are that the healthcare market represents $3 trillion, almost 20 percent, of the U.S. economy. This market also is plagued by a level of gross inefficiency and under-performance largely unseen in any other industries in our post-internet world.
Why has healthcare lagged behind so much?
Largely, it’s because despite complaints about skyrocketing costs, there was no needto change. The lack of technology progress wasn’t because of a lack of available solutions, but rather because of a lack of economic incentive. Incumbents maximized profit by continuing along proprietary business processes and technology paths, because doctors and hospitals got paid by insurance companies for every single transaction of care. Nobody stood to gain by re-engineering for common workflows or common infrastructure. Siloed operations were sufficient under a payment model based on transaction volume.
The paradigm, however, is shifting dramatically.

Consumers and new payment rules are inverting healthcare

The new role of “patient as consumer” is key in making healthcare behave like a more normal market. High-deductible health plans are the driving engine. In 2006, only 6.2 million members in the U.S. were on high-deductible plans. By 2015, this number grew to 58 million, a growth rate of 28 percent per year. Because almost 90 percent don’t exceed $2,000 per year in healthcare spending, 50 million people are effectively paying 100 percent of their healthcare out-of-pocket!
Unsurprisingly, this will start to change consumer behavior. Previously, patients had a significantly higher threshold for bad experiences because they largely weren’t paying. Increasingly, payments are made by patients themselves and/or insurance companies based on outcome and experience. Healthcare providers that had optimized only around transaction volume are finding themselves in sore need of new CRM-like tools for a consumer-centric business: to segment/acquire/retain the right patients, control costs, message/coordinate care effectively and streamline processes.

There is an emerging crop of healthtech entrepreneurs who see the more stage-appropriate opportunity actually lies within the infrastructural layers.

The second catalyst for change is CMS. This department spends almost $1.1 trillion on healthcare each year, making it the largest payer in the country. They’re also changing how they pay. With the Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), Medicare has said it will pay for healthcare in a value-based way. Value-based payments invert the traditional healthcare business model: Instead of paying for healthcare transactions, doctors and institutions are to be paid for healthcare outcomes. Previously, the volume maximization recipe was “more patients, more revenues.” Now, the goal is to try to keep patients from needing the healthcare system at all.
The impact is amplified as private insurance companies are quickly following suit. Importantly, because these changes are being driven by Medicare, they are not impacted by the potential repeal of the ACA. As noted above, the repeal of the ACA may temporarily slow incorporation of new programs, but the industry transition to value-based care will continue. Under this model, standardization and integration are imperative, because value-based payments cover an entire “episode of care” (typically 90 days). Now needed are technical capabilities that enable longitudinally tracking of patients’ care histories and outcomes, auditing activity-based cost of services provided and determining return on investment for each episode of care.

Infrastructure as the missing glue

The new world order has spurred a deluge of healthtech applications. Startup Health notes that the first half of 2016 was the strongest ever start to the year, with $3.9 billion of venture capital invested. However, most entrepreneurs reflexively focus on the seemingly lower-hanging fruit of consumer apps (lose weight, track steps, send photos straight to your dermatologist) or enterprise point-solutions, such as appointment scheduling, patient intake, patient risk stratification, etc. All legitimate problem areas.
However, without any horizontal infrastructure, each of these solutions takes forever to develop and subsequently function only in specific walled-data silos. So, following an unduly protracted dev cycle, a product further leads to duplication of work every time it extends outside the original data pool — which happens a lot. Instead of these abundant headline-grabbing consumer apps or siloed enterprise point-solutions, the best investment opportunities actually are found elsewhere: in infrastructural software providing best-in-class functional solutions pervasively needed across the broader universe of healthtech apps.
What do the best healthtech investments look like? Best-in-class infrastructure. What exactly does this mean? It means horizontal infrastructure that allows application-layer CTOs to outsource discrete functionalities and compress their own dev cycles.
It’s taking a page from the playbook of current-day pure-play tech CTOs who now can choose from a plethora of application program interfaces (APIs), software development kits (SDKs), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) partners. This enables them to focus solely upon their core product and outsource much of their tech stack (e.g. AWS for hosting, Twilio for messaging, Mixpanel for analytics, Salesforce for CRM). This is in stark contrast to the dev protocol in the late 1990s, when startups were capital-intensive and vertically integrated because they lacked a robust infrastructural ecosystem of developer tools and third-party cloud solutions.
Today, the pure-play tech app CTO has evolved to “borrow instead of build whenever possible,” in the words of Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger, in order to “focus on actually building out your product.” In healthtech, however, we still see too many app developers try to build everything natively, thus delaying focus on their core product. Invariably they burn through much of their early-stage financing runway before working on their core product enough to secure the proof points necessary for follow-on investment rounds.

Dividing cancer cell, SEMUsing data science to beat cancer

By Nancy Brinker as written on
The complexity of seeking a cure for cancer has vexed researchers for decades. While they’ve made remarkable progress, they are still waging a battle uphill as cancer remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
Yet scientists may soon have a critical new ally at their sides —  intelligent machines — that can attack that complexity in a different way.
Consider an example from the world of gaming: Last year, Google’s artificial intelligence platform, AlphaGo, deployed techniques in deep learning to beat South Korea Grand Master Lee Sedol in the immensely complex game of Go, which has more moves than there are stars in the universe.
Those same techniques of machine learning and AI can be brought to bear in the massive scientific puzzle of cancer.
One thing is certain — we won’t have a shot at conquering cancer with these new methods if we don’t have more data to work with. Many data sets, including medical records, genetic tests and mammograms, for example, are locked up and out of reach of our best scientific minds and our best learning algorithms.
The good news is that big data’s role in cancer research is now at center stage, and a number of large-scale, government-led sequencing initiatives are moving forward. Those include the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ Million Veteran Program; the 100,000 Genomes Project in the U.K.; and the NIH’s The Cancer Genome Atlas, which holds data from more than 11,000 patients and is open to researchers everywhere to analyze via the cloud. According to a recent study, as many as 2 billion human genomes could be sequenced by 2025.
There are other trends driving demand for fresh data, including genetic testing. In 2007, sequencing one person’s genome cost $10 million. Today you can get this done for less than $1,000. In other words, for every person sequenced 10 years ago, we can now do 10,000. The implications are big: Discovering that you have a mutation linked to higher risk of certain types of cancer can sometimes be a life-saving bit of information. And as costs approach mass affordability, research efforts approach massive potential scale.
A central challenge for researchers (and society) is that current data sets lack both volume and ethnic diversity. In addition, researchers often face restrictive legal terms and reluctant sharing partnerships. Even when organizations share genomic data sets, the agreements are typically between individual institutions for individual data sets. While there are larger clearinghouses and databases operating today that have done great work, we need more work on standardized terms and platforms to accelerate access.
The potential benefits of these new technologies go beyond identifying risk and screening. Advances in machine learning can help accelerate cancer drug development and therapy selections, enabling doctors to match patients with clinical trials, and improving their abilities to provide custom treatment plans for cancer patients (Herceptin, one of the earliest examples, remains one of the best).
We believe three things need to happen to make data more available for use for cancer research and AI programs. First, patients should be able to contribute data easily. This includes medical records, radiology images and genetic testing. Laboratory companies and medical centers should adopt a common consent form to make it easy and legal for data sharing to occur. Second, more funding is needed for researchers working at the intersection of AI, data science and cancer. Just as the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation is funding new tool development for medicine, new AI techniques need to be funded for medical applications. Third, new data sets should be generated, focused on people of all ethnicities. We need to make sure that advances in cancer research are accessible to all.

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