Application Security: A Critical Healthcare Requirement

Application Security: A Critical Healthcare Requirement

In the arena of healthcare and HIPAA compliance, ensuring application security from data breaches isn’t an option, it’s mandatory.

Throughout the servers of senior living centers all over the world exists a huge amount of data.

Needed prescriptions, doctors records, and recommended treatments are all examples of this data.

Information technology (IT) applications are used to store and communicate all this data.

A high level of application security within these IT systems is a must for two main reasons. One is the sensitive nature of the data contained within these applications. The other is the importance that it gets communicated in an accurate manner.

Why is application security so important in the sector of healthcare IT?

Application Security and Patient Data

The need for a high level of application security as it relates to the type of information dealt with within the healthcare sector is obvious.

The state of one’s health is information as sensitive as, if not more so, the state of one’s financial health. The same, someone with access to this type of personal information has the ability to negatively affect your future.

One gives financial advisors access to their financial data in hopes of positively affecting their future in this regard. Similarly, one gives health professionals–doctors, senior living caregivers, etc.–access to their health data in hopes that they can provide proper care to positively affect their future.

In both areas, there are also malicious individuals seeking to access and leak this information. Reports show that 1 in 4 healthcare installations suffered ransomware attacks in 2018.

Again, security within healthcare applications is critical.

Consider again the type of data constantly being traded from application to application. Software within the healthcare sector must rank at the high end of data security, right?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. One of the three factors with the highest level of vulnerabilities in this regard is information leakage.

Application Security and Data Interoperability

What were the other two factors with the highest levels of vulnerability? Cryptographic issues and quality of coding.

Why is this also so troubling?

It’s because these are key aspects of proper interoperability between such applications. Here is a quick overview of interoperability within the healthcare system. We see it to consist of three primary components:

  1. One application must be able to acknowledge receipt of information from another application.
  2. Meaning and purpose must be accurately conveyed as data moves across applications.
  3. Data coding must be able to be interpreted by the receiving application.

If a system is vulnerable because of cryptographic issues and code quality, all three of these factors are at risk.

When these factors are at risk, so are those in your care. When those in your care are at risk, so is your organization.

Consider if a medical professional or caregiver is either unable to access or given inaccurate information. Wrongful diagnosis or wrongful prescription could lead to improper treatment.

At its most severe, the level of application security had can be the difference between life and death.

Lessen Your Liability

When dealing with such sensitive information, the level of liability you possess can be overwhelming.

It’s for the sake of your organization and those in your care that a high level of security within your IT systems is so critical.

Do you run a healthcare installation, such as a clinic or senior living organization? Are you concerned about the level of application security you currently have? If so, get in touch with us for a consultation on the right security solutions for you.

By doing so, you can rest easy and lessen your liability.

How Healthcare Technology is Improving Senior Care

How Healthcare Technology is Improving Senior Care

Baby boomers are aging, and as a result, we have a swelling population of seniors. In fact, the Census Bureau recently reported that 13.3 percent of the residents in the United States are seniors. 

As healthcare improves and baby boomers continue to age, the number of seniors will continue to grow. Seniors are benefiting from the growing field of healthcare technology. There are many solutions now available for seniors and their families to manage different aspects of their health.

Let’s take a look at three ways healthcare technology is improving senior care. 

Healthcare Technology – Smartphone

Software companies have worked hard to produce applications improving patient outcomes and ultimately improving health care overall. Seniors can use apps to manage their healthcare on their computers or phones. 

Smartphones alone have led to some pretty revolutionary developments in healthcare. Seniors can download apps that help them keep track of their medication or set calendar reminders. Additionally, smartphone apps that track exercise is being used by seniors to improve overall health.

Another technology that can help to improve health is the use of Skype or Facetime. Seniors can see children and grandchildren who live far away. This type of interaction boosts moods and will help prevent depression and subsequent health problems. 

Healthcare Technology – GPS

Adult children with senior parents have a genuine concern when their parent exhibits signs of dementia and begins to wander and lose track of his or her surroundings. A GPS tracker can be added to a parent’s phone. 

In addition to trackers on a phone, senior monitoring systems now exist that help adult children keep their parents safe and healthy. Children of seniors can also use in-house sensors to keep track of their parents’ movements. 

Bed sensors and motion sensors developed specifically for the purpose of keeping a senior safe now exist. So for example, if it’s noon, and the senior hasn’t moved from his bed, an adult child living states away can call a neighbor to check on his mom or dad. 

Healthcare Technology – Security Cameras

In addition to motion sensors and GPS to keep track of a senior, security cameras are another healthcare technology available to seniors and their families. This technology provides peace of mind by being able to monitor a family member.

When you live hundreds and even thousands of miles away, you wrestle with the guilt that you cannot be there with an aging parent. So you rely on trustworthy caregivers, neighbors, and nurses to provide care. Sadly, not everyone is trustworthy. 

Small cameras similar to nanny cams can prevent a senior citizen from sustaining abuse or deception.  

Healthcare Technology Means a Better Senior Life

Technology is helping to keep seniors safe and well cared for in their own homes or a senior facility. As discussed, the senior population is growing and access to technology is improving the quality of life for seniors.

Contact us for more solutions that help serve our aging population overall. 

Mobile Healthcare Applications: Improving Patient Experience

Mobile Healthcare Applications: Improving Patient Experience

Technology once carried an intimidating stigma for healthcare. A focus on digital solutions, mobile healthcare applications are transforming patient experience.

Healthcare made simple? There’s an app for that.

2019 is looking like the year of the patient-centric approach. And healthcare apps are assisting with the patient experience. It’s no wonder the market for medical-related phone applications is worth $2.4 billion.

Healthcare providers have been searching for new ways to improve patient satisfaction. And healthcare apps may be exactly what they need to do it.

Want to know how mobile healthcare applications are helping providers put patients first? Get to know what’s happening in the industry here.

Healthcare Mobile Apps and the Patient-Centered Approach

In the past decade, healthcare mobile app development has been focusing on how to improve the patient experience.

Physicians are required to take an oath to put patients first. But with so many patients and so little time, this requirement is sometimes easier said than done.

That’s why easy-to-use healthcare apps are so exciting for patients and providers alike. They offer physicians and nurses the ability to communicate with patients more easily. And they offer patients the opportunity to take control of personal health records.

From weight management to women’s health, there are applications to track every aspect of well-being. Smart bands to more easily measure heart rate and blood pressure have been around for a while. But people can now interface those results to inform doctors about their vitals.

Applications to remind both doctors and patients about appointments help reduce confusion. Some apps also help patients communicate with doctors in-app via a chatbox or over a video call.

All these capabilities are making it easier for patients to be heard. And there are statistics that show it’s working. More than 75% of people love using mobile healthcare apps to supplement their needs.

With an excellent mobile application, healthcare providers can improve patient satisfaction. And they can do it at no cost or inconvenience to doctors and nurses.

More Benefits of Mobile Healthcare Applications

Mobile apps for health care aren’t just helping providers improve patient satisfaction. They’re benefiting almost every aspect of the medical world.

Here are 3 more ways they’re improving the patient experience.

  • Telemedicine improvements
  • The democratization of access to health records
  • Faster and more convenient payment

Mobile medical apps provide transparency to patients who want to be more involved in their health and wellness. This will lead patients to feel more empowered, connected, and in control of their own health.

The Future of Healthcare Application Development

As the mobile health application market continues to grow, the focus will turn from the development of products. Instead, efforts will focus on marketing and training.

Training is especially important for Senior citizens. This demographic isn’t as familiar with mobile apps. But developers recognize this problem and are making healthcare apps simpler to use.

Mobile healthcare applications aren’t the only technology affecting senior citizens. Visit our blog for more updates on the technology affecting you and your health.

Is A Smartphone App Important For Your Business?

Is A Smartphone App Important For Your Business?

How many times do you look at your phone each day? Whether it’s checking your bank balance, reading Facebook updates or playing a game of solitaire that number is adds up pretty quickly.

According to a study by Deloitte, Americans view their smartphone over 50 times per day. So it’s not surprising that businesses are leveraging this user behavior in their marketing strategies and customer loyalty programs. Customized smartphone apps are becoming more common for even Subject  Matter Experts (SMEs) to deploy. With development costs of apps becoming more affordable, it’s not just for “the big guys”. Let’s look at some of the statistics that support this shift in marketing and business.

Work vs. Play
According to the Deloitte study, there is an increasingly “blurred line” between mobile phone usage during work and non-work hours. For example, 35% of participants reported that they used their phone “very/fairly often” for work during non-work hours. On the other side of that coin, a whopping 59% said they use their personal smartphone “very/fairly often” during normal work hours.

A Handy Tool
How are people justifying the use of their mobile phones during work hours? We all know there are a multitude of things one can do with a smartphone, so what are the top work uses?

  • Email (56% of respondents)
  • Making standard calls (52%)
  • Calendar management (37%)
  • Navigation (34%)
  • Communication with colleagues/clients via instant messaging (24%)

Keeping on Task and in Touch
Along with our work use of mobile phones, we also have smartphone apps that help us manage our schedules, remind us of important events and appointments, and send reminders to those we’re set to catch up with. We’re also using them for our communications as we keep in touch with our friends and family via the internet rather than traditional land-line options. As a matter of fact, all of the ways mobile phones are used for communication have been on the increase.

  • Texting was the most popular at 91%
  • Voice calls, up to 86% after a four-year decline
  • Emails at 81%
  • Social networks at 72%
  • Video calls at 30%

Big Business
So what does all of this mean for you, as a business owner? How do these statistics stack up when it comes to influencing your bottom line? While people are looking at their phones, their eyes are taking in all of the icons that have been downloaded. If your smartphone app is one that has been added to their phone, you now have the opportunity to engage with them, gain more top-of-mind-awareness, build on your relationship with them and secure them as loyal customers.

When you consider that 77% of Americans owned a smartphone in 2018, there are a lot of opportunities or “eyes” you could be reaching several times a day, simply by having an effective application for your business. Additionally, there is a growing share of Americans now using smartphones as their primary means of online access at home. The use of traditional broadband services has slowed. This fact is validated by a study by the Pew Research Center showing that one-in-five adults are “smartphone-only” internet users with no traditional home broadband service.

Leveraging Smartphone Dependency
As people become more dependent on their smartphones, businesses will need to be proactive in harnessing the available “real estate” on those device screens. Apps are where it’s at!

But not just “any” app will do. The market is saturated with apps. There are  approximately 2 million on each of the leading app stores (Google Play and Apple App stores). (source: statista.com). So before getting started on developing an app for your business, spend time researching what works, what hasn’t and what your consumers may want or expect.

Should your business take advantage of the growing smartphone dependent market? It’s a big task to tackle, but as you can see, the potential benefits are worth exploring. Growth will continue as smartphones and other mobile devices become our all-in-one tool for life.

Should Your Business Develop An APP?
NCN Technology can provide information on how to get your business app developed and launched into this growing market. Even if you’re not sure how an app could be applied to your business, we’ll talk through ideas and determine the best features to offer your consumers. This can be your year to “tap” into one of the biggest marketing tools available to you. Contact NCN Technology today by email consulting@ncntechnology.com or by phone 703-757-2209.

What Is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

What Is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The internet landscape is growing at an exponential rate. It’s no longer just about computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones – the Internet of Things (IoT). It almost seems like there’s a new device coming out every day! Washing machines, robotic vacuum cleaners, door locks, toys and even toasters are labeled “smart” because they are internet connected. This was a future we were promised in science fiction stories not that long ago, but now it’s turning up everywhere we look, and consumers are itching to own a piece of that promise.  As a result, we now have a new umbrella term added to our vocabulary, the “Internet of Things.”

The Internet of Things (IoT), in its most basic form, is everyday devices that are able to be connected to each other and the internet. These everyday objects, such as smart watches, CCTV cameras or even traffic lights, are able to communicate with each other and to the applications that allow you to configure them. Just as you can use an app on your phone to setup your wifi-enabled air conditioner, a wearable device can alert health care professionals when a patient is in need of critical attention.

Not all devices are created equally when it comes to security.

Automating our life at home and at work naturally reduces human labour and as we move more and more towards smart cars, smart homes and wearable devices, we gather more and more objects that are considered part of IoT.

This has both pros and cons, some of which may seem fairly obvious to many.  As with anything relating to the internet, users are wise to do their best to understand the risks involved with using the technologies they bring into their lives. With understanding, they are better-equipped to implement security measures that protect their private information and thus make using these convenient devices work to their advantage.

Anything connected to the internet is vulnerable to cyber attacks. This is particularly true of IoT devices for one very simple reason. Not all IoT devices have security settings that can be easily configured. Because of this, plug-and-play type devices should be carefully researched before they are connected to the internet.

As exciting new gadgets make our homes smarter, they’re also making them more vulnerable.

With the rush of the IoT craze in the consumer market, many manufacturers are working to get their products to market as quickly as possible, thus security can be overlooked at the point of design and release to the public. However, you have probably paid close attention to your PC passwords and are running an antivirus software plus being careful when browsing online. Now think about this. Hackers know that the general population operates the same way, therefore they have moved to hacking routers instead of computer systems.

This is where the home router plays a very important role. The router is essentially the entry point of the internet into your home  or business. While not all connected devices can be protected by themselves, the router has the ability to provide protection at the entry point. Although today’s typical router does provide some additional security (i.e., password protection, firewalls, and the ability to configure them to only allow certain devices on your network), they do not come with installed security software. This makes it possible for malware to sneak through. With the popularity of IoT devices, and the high vulnerabilities they carry, attackers are already focusing on ways to exploit them.  So it’s certainly an area to consider when implementing security measures within your home and workplace.

When it comes to the Internet of Things, there are so many benefits that could improve the way we work and make our home lives easier. But keep in mind that whatever is connected to the internet is available to anyone who knows how to take it. Therefore, it’s wise to do your research before you connect a product to the internet, learn how to configure any security settings and consider how much access a device really needs to your personal information.

We live in an exciting time for technology. There’s no reason to shy away from taking full advantage of efficiency, we just need to do so with some considered security measures.

Mobility and Productivity

Mobility and Productivity

The “Office” feature for the Samsung Focus 2 mobile phone is an excellent opportunity to turn your device into a productivity center. This application allows you to create different types of documents directly from a device. Create text-based documents, presentations, spreadsheets and more! Think of the “Office” feature as a mobile version of Microsoft’s own Office productivity suite.

Getting Started:

Step 1

Open the “Office” software on your Samsung Focus 2 mobile phone by first opening the “Apps” window on your device’s screen. Next, tap the yellow icon labeled “Office.” A display with options pertaining to the types of documents you can open or create will fill the screen.

Step 2

To open a file, begin by swiping your finger to the left across the screen and open the “Locations” window. If the document is saved on your phone, tap the option labeled “Phone.” Choose the file name of the document that you want to open. If you don’t know the name but do know keywords in the document, tap the word “Search” to perform a basic search. You can also use the “Office 365” and “SharePoint” features to access shared documents that you have worked on using other devices.

Step 3

To create a document, swipe your finger across the right of the screen to reveal a list of various document types. Tap “Explore OneNote” to begin composing a new virtual notebook and “Explore Excel” to begin creating a new spreadsheet. Choose “Explore Word” to create a new text document using Microsoft Word. Select “Explore PowerPoint” to begin creating a new multimedia presentation.

Step 4

Use the toolbars to create and formate new documents. Toolbar buttons will vary depending on the type of document you’re creating. The mobile versions of the Microsoft productivity programs are very similar in design to the full desktop versions. The only major difference is that all features have been reorganized to take advantage of a smaller touch screen. Text is entered into all programs using the virtual keyboard, similar to the way you compose an SMS text message or e-mail on your phone.

Step 5

When you’re finished creating your document, tap the “Save” option from the toolbar to save your progress. You can also tap “Share” to share the document using e-mail, Facebook and other types of online services.

5 Ways for Healthcare Providers to Streamline Their Communications System

5 Ways for Healthcare Providers to Streamline Their Communications System

In the healthcare industry communication and IT infrastructure lies at the heart of operational effectiveness. Alerting staff for emergencies or simply making sure that the right people are given the information they need to manage caseloads is a daily challenge. Communication disruptions or breaks in the alert chain can have disastrous consequences. A multi-spectrum communication system is essential, with multiple methods of communication to ensure that the message will get through. However, this can present a logistical nightmare for any organization to manage. A healthcare provider needs to somehow integrate this electronic hydra into a seamlessly connected alert system. While this is easier said than done, here are five steps can take an organization in the right direction.

1. Catalogue All Communication Methods

The communication tools at the disposal of modern healthcare providers have served to increase the possible lines of communication and made their management a much larger challenge. The web of email, pagers, smart phones, radios, and communication apps has given healthcare managers headaches for years. A good starting point in tightening up the alert system is to make sure that all these avenues of communications are taken into account.

2. Look For The Gaps In Communication

If there have been deficiencies in communication in the past, sometimes the best way to solve the problem is to do a virtual autopsy. With so many possible ways to reach your personnel when they are needed, what was it, exactly, that went wrong? It could be as simple as a physician being away from his phone on his personal time or a paramedic parking in a cell phone dead-zone during lunch. Sometimes finding these gaps can lead to procedural changes that act as a roadmap for future contingencies.

3. Combine Unnecessary Redundancies

Redundancy is a necessary component of any communications system. Much like any system, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Since Murphy’s Law never takes a vacation, a facility can tend to feel more secure by piling on additional back-ups to systems that have the potential for failure. However, a communications manager should evaluate how effective a redundant communication method will be to the overall communications plan. If these methods can be combined or replaced with a more effective method, take that plunge.

4. Build A Communications Hub

Whether it is an actual communication center in your facility or a virtual hub online or in the cloud, you need a place where all of your communication methods can be accessed directly. At a moment of crisis, there needs to be a place where the cooler heads can gather to resolve the problem. This centralization of communication will go a long way toward cutting down on human error in the alert process.

5. Choose An Effective Mobile Management Tool

Mobile communications, to include SMS and text messages, have become a cornerstone of the communication plan for healthcare providers. A comprehensive mobile communications tool that is customized to the particular needs of the healthcare industry, to include such unique considerations as HIPPA compliance, is essential to communications in the industry. Mobile management and targeted alerts can bring communications systems into the 21st century and provide a sleek, streamlined method of communication with every component of the healthcare facility.

Trust the Experts

Trust the Experts

I had the opportunity to zip line recently and realized how important it is to trust the experts. The zip line trainer was serious yet she reminded us to have fun. She new the potential danger of not staying connected the entire time we are up in the trees and was the subject matter expert in safety for the sport.

We ask new clients to trust us every day with their projects, data, business processes and we know the seriousness of having the best experts and tools to execute the desired outcomes. It takes a high level of trust knowing you have the right people helping you complete the zip line course. Similarly, you need the right development team with expert knowledge and proven methodologies to ensure your project is successful.

NCN SharePoint, Mobile and web development Subject matter experts create requirement documents with business objectives ALWAYS in mind. We architect, develop and test while using the agile methodologies to ensure client projects are safely delivered. For zip lining, the process of hooking up varied depending on the effort, such as climbing a ladder, zipping thousands of feet down into the dirt, or jumping from a Tarzan swing into a net. But the methodology was the same: always stay connected! NCN processes vary based on projects; but agile development methodologies and hand picked tools are the same; chosen to ensure the safety of each project.

We know and respect the seriousness of jumping off the platform with NCN to develop your project. This is the reason our experts and processes follow agile application development methodologies to lower risk and deliver successful projects. Let’s go!!