Ransomware is making headlines and striking fear into hospitals across the globe. These computer viruses do not actually steal information from databases, but they can block access by the hospital or practice to the very data they have stored and use every day to manage and care for their patients. If you are concerned about whether a ransomware could hold your practice’s data hostage, PatientNow has a few facts about this alarming trend that you need to know.
Ransomware is a type of computer virus that holds data “hostage” from its owner. The owner of the data must pay a stated amount of money, usually in bitcoins, to have the data released. This ransom is reportedly all the hackers are looking for, and data is returned rather than stolen completely in most cases. However, the data is compromised, and when you are a plastic surgeon with highly sensitive patient information in your database, compromise can be devastating for your practice.
The newest methods of ransomware attacks have proven much more difficult to detect than earlier ransomware viruses. In addition, more recent types of viruses are designed for maximum impact, with a goal of shutting down as much of the business as possible so the owner has no option but to pay the ransom and retrieve the information. Law enforcement is advising against paying the ransom, since there is no guarantee your data will be unlocked and ransom payments are likely to encourage other ransomware viruses to follow. However, when you are a medical provider unable to access patient information, refusing to pay a ransom is not always the easiest option.
Many of the most recent ransomware attacks have been on hospitals and medical groups across the country. In February, a virus hit Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles. The attack was potent enough to force the hospital into paper and pencil mode for a large portion of the operations. The facility ended up paying the $17,000 in bitcoins as ransom to have their systems restored.
Earlier this month, Methodist Hospital in Henderson, Kentucky, faced a similar attack. In this case, the hospital was able to fend off the attack without resorting to paying ransom, by declaring an internal state of emergency and working through their limited Internet access. Eventually, the hospital was able to regain control of their systems.
Just this week, the self-proclaimed largest healthcare provider in Maryland and Washington D.C., MedStar Health, was the victim of a ransomware attack. The group, which operates 10 hospitals and 200 outpatient offices in the area, was forced to disable their network to prevent the virus from spreading. The group has no reason to believe any of its data was compromised at this time. The FBI is looking into this attack as well as some of the other attacks that have left medical providers vulnerable and unable to provide their full scope of services to their patients.
Experts will tell you the best way to deal with a ransomware virus is to prevent it from happening in the first place. To lower your risk of an attack, you can follow these steps:
Refrain from opening any foreign email attachments or Word documents
Always keep your software up to date with the latest versions of your browser, OS and browser plug-ins
Never enable execution of macros in documents without verified senders
Perform your daily activities from a limited user account
When you sign on with the secure software from PatientNow, you are also taking an important step in preventing any type of virus attack, including ransomware. Our sophisticated, state-of-the-art packages feature the best security in the business, ensuring you and your patients are safe from theft. If you would like to learn more about how PatientNow can help protect you from cyberattacks of all kinds, contact our office today at 888-644-2987.
Jerry Jacobson, CEO, patientNOW, relates to a statement made by a surgeon, “I can get home early and can spend time with my family instead of spending hours on my notes in the office. That makes the investment in your software worth every dollar to me.” Working with plastic surgeons to develop software that meets the needs of these doctors from the beginning of their career through the development of their aesthetic medical practices, Jacobson realized that time is money for these physicians. The patientNOW software package is a platform that combines all the needs of a plastic surgery practice from a complete certified electronic medical record (EMR), to practice management and a patient engagement system all automated so as to free up staff and doctors from manual tasking and increase profitability through these efficiencies. Jacobson spent two years in a plastic surgeon’s office designing the software specifically for elective medical practices. In the ensuing eleven years the company has had thousands of improvements and enhancements to the software thanks to the feedback and suggestions from the practices that use the software as their office solution.
The CEO reports that most of their clients do not receive referrals or leads from any insurance company or hospital, these are small businesses that must generate their own leads and convert those prospective patients into procedures. Understanding these issues, patientNOW has built into their software platform an automated follow-up process called PAR that stands for Patient Acquisition and Retention.
This system sets patientNOW apart from their competition and is one of the reasons they have been endorsed by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
The PAR system makes sure that no one falls through the cracks. Once a prospective patient has made an inquiry of a plastic surgeons practice and has been entered into the patientNOW system, they will be automatically touched through follow-up emails and/or texts through a professional process that promotes the surgeon, practice and the procedure of interest.
From the initial inquiry the PAR system can automatically send branded and customized emails that provide education on the doctor’s qualifications, the practice and staff, and education on the procedure of interest. All of these touches are designed to get the prospect to schedule and show up for a consultation.
A powerful tool for the surgeon to use in converting a prospect to become a patient is through before and after photos that are part of the patientNOW photo management software.
Before the patient has their procedure the patientNOW platform continues to compliment the patient experience. From the comfort of their home, the patient can conveniently provide their medical history, medications, electronically sign general consent forms and other information the physician requires through the patientNOW portal. The information is transmitted securely through an encrypted link directly into the patient’s medical record.
The PAR system will automatically follow-up and send procedure anniversary emails and even birthday emails. The patientNOW philosophy is to continue to touch the patients in a professional manner in order to retain them and to gain their referrals.
The original article can be found here.
“I’m in the aesthetics business. So I want an office that looks clean, with a modern edge to it,” says facial plastic surgeon John M. Hilinski, MD, owner and medical director of San Diego Face & Neck Specialties (www.drhilinski.com).
With PatientNOW’s electronic medical record (EMR) system, hesays he doesn’t need racks of paper charts. “Around the office, we have big computer screens,” plus iPads used by staff members – and by patients for signing informed consent documents.”
Dr. Hilinski says that when he chose PatientNOW, he wanted a comprehensive system that would allow him to grow into it – not lock him down in terms of capabilities. “And PatientNOW certainly met this need.
Along with streamlining his daily duties, PatientNOW enables Dr. Hilinski to create his own personalized templates for documents such as consultation notes or operative reports. PatientNOW also has allowed him to create several automated text snippets that spare him from typing frequently used comments.
“I can just click them into the content on the fly.” Regarding informed consent, for example, once he discusses the risks and benefits of a procedure with a patient, “I can right-click, paste, and bam! It’s documented.” Read more
Managing patient documents is an important part of daily operations at your aesthetic practice or medical spa. Consider going paperless with our Electronic Medical Records (EMR) solution to manage those sensitive files with ease. Digitized versions of patient documents are much easier to organize, sort, and access by authorized staff members, and will help you streamline many of the daily tasks at the office. Here are some tips for managing your practice with EMR versus traditional paper filing.
If you are committed to going green, consider going paperless with EMRs. Our digital patient documents are designed to look just like paper charts and pages appear instantly as you flip through the files within the program. PatientNOW EMR comes with a fully-integrated document management system that can capture patient signatures digitally, store photos and other media files, organize scanned images, and take care of word processing tasks with ease. Our EMR barcode system eliminates the need for manual indexing and can reduce data entry errors.
Some of the key benefits of managing your practice with EMR include:
If you are running a very busy medical practice and aren’t completely paperless just yet, you may experience some issues with workflow and communication between patients and staff members. It can be difficult to manage and organize paper documents in larger facilities and keep accurate records of all patients without a digital software program. You will need to make room to store patient files in a secure location and train staff to file all paperwork without making errors.
For many medical practices and medical spas, having access to digital patient documents streamlines many internal processes and reduces the risk of errors. You can increase security of sensitive patient information with an online registration portal, eliminating the need for patients to complete paper authorization forms and other paperwork during the intake process.
Learn more about the benefits of PatientNOW EMR by contacting us today!