Thursday, December 1, 2022

The Number of Data Breaches in Healthcare Doubled in Three Years...

 I happened to come across an article recently on the website that dealt with the continuing problem of data breaches in healthcare.  Due to the amount of computing infrastructure in healthcare, combined with the NEED for fast access to data to save lives, that sector of the market is a big target for cyber criminals.

What I get upset about is the aspect that criminals mucking around in hospital networks could very easy cause loss of life.  Now I realize that also applies to lots of other sectors that are battling Ransomware and other threats... the Colonial Pipeline hack could have affected EMS or other emergency departments that save lives.  However, hacking hospitals seems to have a very direct "cause and effect".

I suppose that criminals don't let those trivial details really enter into the mental equation, but it should.  The basic idea is that because of the need to access medical data quickly and efficiently, hospitals will face huge pressure to pay a ransom as the data is in the best interest of the patients.

Dental offices, while not frequently dealing with life and death issues, can still be targets of cyber criminals.  However, since many dental offices are still privately owned, the potential for high dollar payouts are not there.  Large corporate dental clinics might be better targets for ransomware, simply because they have more money for ransoms, but there is also the fact that encrypting a private practice system would take the owner's livelihood away and perhaps they might be willing to pay to get that back.  I once had a doctor tell me their cyber security posture was "stay small and they won't think I have any money".  While it IS a strategy, it's not one that I would endorse.

To read the article on bankinfosecurity, follow this link.  

There is also a really great article on the DPR website that was written by my good buddy Brett Callow and his friend Meredith Griffanti.  They are both experts in cyber security and were awesome about writing this article on "Protect Your Dental Practice from Ransomware".  These 2 are well known and established experts in the field of cyber security, so if you are a dental professional, be sure to follow the link and read this article.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

AMD Lasers has Special Pricing During Cyber Week!


Over the years I've worked with AMD Lasers quite a bit, both with the products and the company.  I've found their products to be reliable and best of all... affordable.  As anyone in dentistry  will tell you, the cost of equipment can be a serious impediment to adoption.  The good thing is that companies like AMD exist that produce quality equipment while also making that equipment affordable.

I've been using lasers in my practice since the late 1990s and I can tell you from personal experience that they give me a tremendous advantage in what I do.  There are a lot of things that lasers allow you to do and I use them almost every day.

So it's great to be able to tell you that AMD is having a tremendous sale this week.  As you can see from the graphic above, their Picasso diode lasers are 50% off and the Monet handheld curing laser is 30% off.

If you are interested in exploring what a laser can do for you as far as soft tissue surgery or high speed curing, head on over to the AMD website and take advantage of the discounts they are offering this week.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Tech Titan Mark Cuban Working Toward Helping Hospitals to Eliminate Drug Shortages

Most folks, whether you are in healthcare or not, are well aware of all kinds of supply chain issues that were caused by all of the shutdowns during the stop the spread part in the early days of the pandemic.  It's been amazing to see what things are and what are NOT readily available since then.  The automobile industry has been especially hard hit as they depend on *lots* of parts from many, many companies.  Getting things back on track since 2020 is *still* a challenge.

 As most of us in healthcare know, since the whole Covid-19 supply chain problem began to rear its ugly head, there have been shortages of different drugs at different times.  Obviously shortages of medications can be hugely impactful for patients that require certain medications to stay healthy or stay alive.  If you've ever wondered what drugs are impacted by shortages, the FDA has a website that you can consult to find out.  That FDA page also has a link to the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store where you can download mobile apps that will also give you the info.

Needless to say, the solution needs to be uncovered because drug shortages can have serious consequences.  That's why I was happy to come across some info regarding tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban, putting his efforts behind a way to help solve this problem.  He has created the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company.  The idea is that the company will produce low-cost versions of costly generic drugs.  He has also said the company plans to "provide radical transparency in how we price our drugs."

It seems that in February 2022, the company began construction on an $11 million facility in Dallas to manufacture some of those drugs.  The plant is said to be due to open early in 2023.  

If you are interested in more info on this project, Mr. Cuban recently discussed the concept on a podcast popular with investors.  You can listen to the podcast by following this link...  

Monday, November 28, 2022

General Motor OnStar Partners with NORAD to Track Santa


I will have more info on NORAD Tracks Santa as Christmas Eve approaches, but since today is really the beginning of the Christmas Season I thought I would make today's post about. OnStar's partnership in that endeavour.

Most of us have a preferred car company and for some reason, mine has been Chevrolet.  I have no idea why, but I have a loyalty to the brand.  So I was excited to learn that the General Motors OnStar program has had a long standing partnership with NORAD.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracks Santa every Christmas Eve; and as I said earlier, I'll post more on that program on December 23rd... before Christmas Eve.  However, the important takeaway from today's post is that since 2009 General Motors OnStar has been teaming up with NORAD to help in that tracking.

By pushing the blue OnStar button in your vehicle on Christmas Eve, you'll be connected with an OnStar Advisor that can provide you and your child a location of Santa as he journeys around the globe.  In case a child is concerned Santa won't be able to find them, the OnStar Advisor can assure them that the big guy will indeed be on his way!

The service will run from 6 a.m. EST Christmas Eve to 5 a.m. EST Christmas Day.  Also, every time someone pushes the button during those times, GM will donate $1 to the Canadian Red Cross (up to $3000).

A big Thank You to OnStar as well as the great folks at NORAD!

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Timeout for Thanksgiving!

 The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us here in the U.S. so I won't be posting again until next week.

With the idea of "thanksgiving" in mind for the next few days, I'd like to share a story with you and i hope it puts things into perspective...

When I was a little boy I would occasionally have one of those "kid meltdowns" that all parents are familiar with.  Now not all of these occurred around my mom & dad.  My grandmother used to let me come stay with her on a regular basis and sometimes I'd have one of those moments while I was in her care.  During those moments, my grandma was prone to say, "oh just count your blessings..."

We all have a lot to be thankful for.  Lately I've been talking to patients about the term "first world problems" and when I talk about that, I think of my grandmother.  Somewhere she is smiling knowing that I finally figured out that waiting an  extra 60 seconds for an 8 dollar latte isn't really a problem at all.  There are people out there waking miles to find clean drinking water for their children and I can just turn on the faucet.

I still get frustrated sometimes, but I have learned my "first world problems" aren't really problems at all.  I think we all need to "count your blessings".  Thanks, Grandma.  I miss you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

FDA says Naloxone (Narcan) is Likely Safe for OTC Availability

 For those of you who are not healthcare providers, you may not be familiar with the drug Naloxone (also known as Narcan).  The medication is an incredibly fast acting reversal agent for narcotics.  Basically if a person is suffering from an overdose, administering Narcan can completely reverse the overdose situation and bring a patient back from a potentially fatal situation.  

The drug was developed in the early part of the 1960s by Jack Fishman who was a researcher at Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research.  However, he developed Naloxone while working part time at Endo Laboratories Narcotics Division.  When initially synthesized,  no one saw much use for the drug.   

Fast forward to today and Naloxone has become a major life saver.  It is carried by most police officers who answer emergency calls as well as EMTs.  It works *amazingly fast* and can, in some instances, mean the difference between life and death for an individual.

In my office we have 2 nasal spray units in our emergency medical kit.  These are small unidose dispensers that allow us to insert it into the nasal opening of a patient and then shoot a fine spray of the drug into the nasal passages where it is rapidly absorbed through the sinus lining and quickly delivered into the bloodstream.  These are the same dispensing units that are frequently carried by the first responders.

The FDA is giving consideration to the 4mg nasal spray units as well as the 2 milligram dose that can be given through an auto injector, which is similar to the "epi-pen" many people are familiar with.  Naloxone has a high degree of safety and would be easy to use in these delivery options.

If approved, this decision would have a tremendous opportunity to save lives.

You can read the FDA information on this subject by following this link.  

Monday, November 21, 2022

Amazon Clinic is Coming as The Everything Store Pushes into Healthcare


An interesting move in the telehealth space has been announced recently.  Amazon, which is the world's largest online retailer, has announced Amazon Clinic.

The system will operate in 32 states when it starts.  The idea is to provide "virtual care" for 20 common health conditions such as allergies, acne, and hair loss.  It will be a message based virtual telehealth service that will strive to connect doctors with patients in way that is more convenient for patients and more efficient for doctors.

The basic idea is 

  1. The patient selects the condition they need help with
  2. The patient selects a provider from a list
  3. The patient completes a short intake form questionnaire
  4. The patient is then connected to the provider through a secure message-based portal

While I am a firm believer in the doctor patient relationship, I also realize that many folks need an affordable healthcare option that is available when *they* are.  There are also folks who lack transportation or are in rural areas where a trip to the doctor could require a lengthy amount of travel.  Let's face it, as a doctor of the head and neck, I see certain situations where I could do some remote diagnosis and triage.  There are times when a doctor doesn't absolutely need to "touch" the patient to make an accurate diagnosis.  Now, the flip side is that there ARE times that a physical visit is *absolutely* necessary.  However, if it isn't needed, why make people jump through unnecessary hoops?

My personal feelings are that this is filling a definite need.  There are some "holes" in the U.S. healthcare system and filling those holes is necessary and a *good* thing.  We are seeing rapid expansion in telehealth by many companies currently.  Almost everyone has an Amazon account and if utilizing this service can help some people.  My thoughts are, let's get help to those people.