We did it! We survived 2020! Hands down, 2020 was the toughest year (so far) of the twenty-first century. But we got through it. As we move into 2021, this is the time when many of us are making New Year’s resolutions. To help our readers commit to new initiatives for practice success in the coming year, this blog will suggest a number of useful New Year’s Resolutions for Specialty Practices.
In case you weren’t aware, October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. For those in the healthcare industry, unfortunately, cybersecurity awareness is something many are still lacking. According to a report from Hervajec Group, the healthcare industry is expected to spend $65 billion on cybersecurity from 2017 to 2021. All that money being spent, and yet healthcare remains one of the most frequently targeted and worst performing sectors when it comes to cyberattacks and data breaches. Why is that? Well, it is likely because while so much of that money is being spent on technology (antivirus software, firewalls, etc.), not enough time and money is being invested in the training of people.
Ransomware attacks are back at it… again. It almost seems like there’s just something about this time of year that always has the ransomware trolls coming out of the woodwork. According to a new report from Check Point Research, the third quarter of 2020 saw a 50 percent increase in daily ransomware attacks and the total number of ransomware attacks had nearly doubled in the United States. Sadly, once again, the healthcare sector has been the most frequently targeted industry in this new wave of ransomware attacks. Perhaps the scariest among these ransomware programs (or, at the very least, the one currently sowing the most chaos) is called Ryuk.
No doubt about it, 2020 has been a banner year for telemedicine and connected care solutions. This boom was, of course, kickstarted by the COVID-19 pandemic (though it is now obvious it will not end with it). A surge of new state and federal legislation continues to be passed in order to solidify this widespread adoption of telemedicine. From reducing physician burnout to helping practices meet new patient preferences for connected care options, telemedicine solutions have proven to be highly beneficial for both providers and patients.
The information blocking requirements of the Cures Act Final Rule will take effect on November 2, 2020. This means healthcare providers have barely a month to ensure they are in compliance or risk financial penalties. When it comes to allowing proper access to information as required by HIPAA, commonly called “Right of Access,” regulatory entities have already begun cracking down on violators. In 2019, the Office for Civil rights (OCR) at HHS had announced its intention to more aggressively enforce the rights of patients to have prompt access to medical records without being overcharged for it.
We are now three-quarters of the way through 2020, and I think most of us can agree it’s been a doozy of a year so far. While the COVID-19 pandemic has received the lion’s share of attention over the last six months or so, there is another widespread threat that many have neglected to notice—a surge in cyberattacks. Many of these attacks have been aimed at various organizations in the healthcare industry, making an already rough situation even worse for many practices and hospitals.
If the first few months of 2020 taught healthcare professionals anything, it’s that they were not nearly as well prepared to handle unexpected crises as they probably thought they were. With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, a serious economic crisis, a global increase in civil unrest, extreme weather from climate change, murder hornets in the U.S. and now cannibal rats devouring each other in large cities (because that might as well happen too, right?), it seems unexpected risks are coming from new directions almost daily.
In the recent weeks of the COVID-19 public health emergency, public scam alerts have been issued by both the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service warning of a surge in criminal activity related to the outbreak. As often happens during times of crisis, bad actors are taking advantage and running various criminal schemes from increased phishing attacks to fake websites and retail fraud. In fact, these schemes have become so rampant that federal law enforcement recently formed a joint Coronavirus Fraud Task Force in conjunction with Virginia state law enforcement.