August 2019: What to Know in Healthcare Cybersecurity

August 2019: What to Know in Healthcare Cybersecurity

Drex DeFord undefined avatar

Drex DeFord

Healthcare Executive Strategist

EDITORS NOTE: Drex DeFord recently joined CI Security as the Healthcare Executive Strategist to help advance CI Security's mission to defend healthcare services that support and sustain lives. Bringing his three decades of expertise as a CIO in healthcare and the military, Drex offers insights on recent developments in healthcare, security, and technology.

Since I’ve entered the “Recovering-CIO” phase of my career, I find myself reading more than ever before.  I’m always looking at big ideas from really smart people who are trying to change healthcare (and the world).

Over the past week, there are a few articles that have caught my eye:  

Uwe Reinhardt: Remembering a Titan of U.S. Healthcare Policy, at an Inflection Point in the Shift Towards Value
I’ve been lucky enough to hear Uwe speak at CHIME and other conferences over the years. To say he was a healthcare “titan” is an understatement. I didn’t know him personally, but as a healthcare exec and bit of a policy groupie, I was a long-time follower. If you don’t know about Uwe, or didn’t get a chance to hear him speak, you can still read his books – and if you want to benchmark off a leader who lived his career as bi-partisan and just trying to do the “right thing” for healthcare, there’s no better role-model.

Healthcare Needs More Than HIPAA, Legislation to Improve Security
The key quote in this article, “Technology moves too quickly, and Congress moves too slowly,” says it all. While there’s definitely a place for government in all this cybersecurity stuff, every single time there’s a new law, or an expanded regulation, there’s an unintended consequence. And then there’s a boatload of wasted resources spent figuring out how to work around it. Changing laws and regulations – it’s all about politics. And we seem to be pretty crappy at that lately. Bottom line – be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

Microsoft Welcomes New Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Rhew
You know, I’ve watched Microsoft do the hokey-pokey with the healthcare industry at least three times over the course of my career.  At one point, I was even the Chairman of the Microsoft Healthcare User’s Group. But you know what? This time, I think they really mean it. With Satya Nadella driving massive change in both the culture and business intentions at Microsoft, and with hires like this (and others) in the healthcare group, I don’t think they’re fooling around anymore. But one piece of advice, Satya: hire more women into the healthcare leadership team.

A Mathematician’s War: How Abraham Wald Helped Win World War II Without Ever Firing a Shot
Abraham Wald escaped Germany as the Nazis came to power and found himself working for Uncle Sam during WW2. With B-29 bombers dropping like flies, the Allies were trying to figure out where they should put more armor on the aircraft to help make sure more of the aircrews made it home. Except they made a mistake in their assessment. Enter Wald. And Math. I won’t give away the punchline, but as you read this, think about how you might be making similar mistakes – with cybersecurity, analytics, and patients. Heck, even in your own life. 

Amazon Has Permanently Disrupted Retail: Will It Disrupt Healthcare Next?
I thank God every time I read or talk about Haven now – mostly because I don’t have to say, “That joint effort to lower healthcare costs brought to you by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JP Morgan” anymore.  Seriously though: Stay plugged in to this story – the team from Haven isn’t fooling around. The original idea may have been to lower costs for these three employers, but if they keep going, they may pull the rug out from under big parts of the healthcare industry. An “Amazon Prime Healthplan?” The Uber analogy is over used, but, yeah, a bunch of you are about to get run over by an Uber driven by Atul Gawande.

Health IT Workarounds – Funny or Insanity?
If you are in our business and don’t read Healthcare Scene, you probably should. Founder John Lynn (twitter: @techguy) leverages a bunch of smart healthcare people, and a boatload of twitter followers to help generate content like the article above – most of which can be, at times, filled with both hope, and despair. This one doesn’t disappoint. And it made me laugh. Then it made me cry.

And finally…

“What Three Words” – An App That Can Save Your Life
You know how sometimes you find out about a new app, and then you clunk yourself in the head, and say, “How did I not come up with that!”? What Three Words is one of those for me. It’s used widely in other parts of the world, but just starting to take hold in the US. Put your thinking caps on – How could we use this tech to make healthcare better?


You can trust a leader who has been in your shoes! Drex DeFord has spent nearly 30 years leading some of the nation’s most respected health systems including the USAF Health System, Scripps Health, Seattle Children’s, and Steward Healthcare. As a digital health leader, he works with health systems, vendor-partners, start-ups, and investors, associations, and boards. He understands competing priorities. Strained resources. The pressure to differentiate your services, distinguish your brand, demonstrate value, and the drive to find ways to deliver better, faster, cheaper, safer, easier-to-access care to patients and families. All amid seismic changes in our industry.

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