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2 posts from October 2020


Caleb Barlow Discusses Healthcare Industry Ransomware Attacks and Measures to Prevent Cybercrimes (October 27th)

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Computer or cybercrimes against health care providers, moreover hospitals, disenable computer networks holding them for ransom, frequently for a bitcoin fee.  Though these attacks date back at least 30 years they have become increasingly prevalent since 2010.   Last month, Universal Health Services, with 400 locations moreover in the US, suffered a cyberattack.  Recently too, the first known death resulted from a ransomware attack in Germany when a patient did not survive transfer to another hospital.  Earlier this month, COVID-19 vaccine trials were delayed by ransomware attack.  Likely the most costly ransomware attack was to the UK’s NHS in 2017 that amounted to an estimated $120 million in IT costs and lost productivity.   In 2020 state legislatures introduced more than 280 cybersecurity-related bills, enacting several.  The US Senate and House passed seven cybersecurity bills this past Congress, however, none specifically addressed the HC industry and none became law. 

During this 29 minute conversation, Mr. Barlow explains the effect ransomware products have on clinical computer systems, the frequencies of these computer crimes in the health care sector and how they are resolved or at what price to the hospital or other provider organization.  He discusses how these attacks can be prevented and what national regulatory and legislative actions have been or should be taken, e.g., what ransomware-related lessons the health care sector can learn from the federal government procurement process.   

Mr. Caleb Barlow is the President and Chief Executive Officer of CynergisTek, an information security and privacy consulting firm focused on the healthcare IT industry.  Prior to Headshot1joining CynergisTek, Mr. Barlow led the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence organization.  He has also led the integration efforts of on multiple IBM acquisitions.  In 2018, Caleb invented the Cyber Tactical Operations Center which is a first-of-its-kind training, simulation, and security operations center on wheels.  Mr. Barlow's has a broad background having led technical teams in product development, product management, strategy, marketing, and cloud service delivery.   He has appeared on the TED stage, TODAY, and regularly appears on national news broadcasts.  Mr. Barlow's work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, and dozens of other publications.  He has testified before the Congress and before the United Nations by invitation of the President of the U.N. General Assembly.  Mr. Barlow has been in leadership roles at two successful startups, including Syncra Systems which is now part of Oracle, and Ascendant Technology which was acquired by Avent.  Caleb also holds multiple patents in the field of Unified Communication.

For information on CynergisTek go to: https://cynergistek.com/

The Treasury Department October 1 advisory concerning facilitating ransomware payments noted during this conversation is at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/ofac_ransomware_advisory_10012020_1.pdf


John Gorman Discusses the Use of Opportunity Zones to Address Social Determinants (October 21st)

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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has placed a spotlight on the social determinants of health (SDOH) - generally defined as health access and quality, education, economic circumstances, food security, social conditions and environmental factors.  It is estimated SDOH determine as much as 60% of one's health status, whereas formal medical care accounts for just 10%.  Concerning economic circumstances, forty years of wage stagnation among lower income workers has left 45% of Americans with either no health care insurance or insurance with out of pocket expenses so high they avoid seeking care when, for example, they develop COVID-related symptoms.  Federal health care policymakers, providers and insurers have however slowly begun to take interest in addressing SDOH as a way to improve health care outcomes and costs.  For example, Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, which enroll more than one-third of all Medicare beneficiaries, have recently been given regulatory authority to offer MA beneficiaries supplemental benefits beyond medical care such as meal delivery, home modifications and personal care services.  Recently as well, the 2017 tax bill contained a provision that created Opportunity Zones (OZs) designed to attract long term investment via tax incentives to address social and economic realities in high poverty communities. 

During this 32 minute conversation, Mr. Gorman provides an overview of his investment firm, Nightingale Partners, explains the OZ provision in the 2017 tax law and moreover details how OZ investments can be and are being used to address social determinants of health including housing, food security, transportation and the use of community health workers.  He also explains how providers and plans can exploit OZ legislation and the extent to which MA plans are making use of recent supplemental benefit regulatory reform. 

Mr. John Gorman is the Founder and former Executive Chairman of Gorman Health Group.  Previously, Mr. Gorman served as Assistant to the Director of Health Care Financing UnnamedAdministration’s (HCFA, now CMS) Office of Managed Care.   During the 1993 debate on national health care reform, Mr. Gorman served as chief lobbyist on health care financing issues for the National Association of Community Health Centers.  Mr. Gorman's career in Washington began as Press Secretary and Staff Director for Congressional Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), then Chairman of the Government Operations Committee.  Mr. Gorman currently serves on the Board of Directors of Henry Ford Health System’s Health Alliance Plan in his home town of Detroit and serves as a Senior Advisor to Premier, Inc., a hospital purchasing cooperative.  

The CDC's SDOH website is at: https://www.cdc.gov/socialdeterminants/index.htm

Information on Nightingale Partners is at: https://www.nightingalepartners.org/

Information on OZ's is at: https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/opportunity-zones-frequently-asked-questions