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Healthcare IT -- An Investment Choice For The Future

Healthcare IT -- An Investment Choice For The Future | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

The very first time I saw real innovation in healthcare IT was in 2003 in Chicago, when Linda Hall presented QuickMedix (later named MinuteClinic). What really impressed me was the simplicity of the premise, based on the easy “in and out” of 1 Hour Photo. If people could drop off their film and pick up the photos at a mall kiosk within an 1 hour, why couldn’t we do the same for diagnosing and treating common maladies such as strep throat, ear infections, viruses, high fevers and the flu? The technology wasn’t so simple, but it’s what made possible a walk-in kiosk staffed by a nurse practitioner who could see a patient, take a swab, send it via e- processing and get a read-out for a prescription within 15 to 20 minutes. That prescription could then be filled at the in store pharmacy, with the patient on their way in less in 30 or 45 minutes. I just knew this would be a success.

Linda explained what a convenience the service would be, particularly for women who often sacrifice an entire day at work getting to a doctor’s appointment with a sick child, driving to the pharmacy to get the prescription filled and finally returning home to tend to her child. This convenience kiosk, introduced at Target and CVS, could be a real breakthrough in healthcare IT and people’s lives. The company became a national success when it was recognized as a forerunner to urgent care in the US. Linda and her team successfully raised $30 million to market this service which was acquired by CVSin 2006 for $214 million.


Now, years later, one of the most robust investment categories for investors in start-up companies is healthcare technology, or healthcare IT. Much of this has been prompted by the Affordable Care Act of 2010. In that year, there were only 17 seed and Series A healthcare software and application companies that were funded. Even with this astonishingly low number, we began to see more development of healthcare IT atSpringboard Enterprises, where a raft of companies applied to the Springboardaccelerator program and three were accepted.


The numbers began to build from there; several dozen companies were screened by our expert life science advisors and 22 have since been accepted into the program. This isn’t to say that Springboard, the accelerator accepting companies founded or co-founded by women, vetted a majority of the pack out there. We are just one of many, but it was an indication that the demand for technology improvements in the market was there and the investors were buying in.


Just a few examples could illustrate the range and targets of these companies. Ubiqi Health, founded by Jacqueline Thong, developed a mobile program for tracking migraine headaches. It not only tracks migraines, but provides the user with tools to help determine what causes their onset and potential options for reducing their effect. One user named Shantel wrote on their site that, “I noticed from my Ubiqi tracker that certain foods triggered my migraines, then I changed my diet”.


The potential impact of managing migraines can be huge. For example, one study on kids with migraines revealed that kids with migraines are out of school 32 days to 3 months a year compared to an average of 3 to 13 days for other kids. Being able to manage the migraine and reduce days absent would have a profound impact on kids, teachers, administrators and healthcare providers. Ubiqi has moved into tracking other chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes.


ZappRX, presented in 2012 by one of our youngest entrepreneurs, Zoe Bary, is developing a mobile wallet for subscription orders. What fascinated me about Zoe’s presentation is that she taught herself to write the patent for ZappRX technology and her investment documents by researching both online. Her start-up costs were next to zilch, primarily because she took on the tasks herself. In addition she was extraordinarily confident.


And it’s a good thing that she is because what she is trying to do is take the pain out of getting prescriptions filled. So many people find glitches in the prescription fulfillment process, from connecting the doctor with the pharmacy, to providing the healthcare provider with accurate pharmacy records. ZappRX intends to make this process a pharmacy agnostic one. While that certainly would make sense for consumers, it isn’t an easy process to penetrate. The biggest pharmacy chains: Wal-MartTarget,Walgreens and CVS are more interested in keeping their customers in-house.

According to a report from CrunchBase, the number of funded companies tackling problems in healthcare rose from 17 in 2010 to 89 in 2013. That doesn’t really speak to the amount of capital invested across all 195 companies in the same period. According to a report from investment firm Rock Health, a total of $1.9 billion was invested in healthcare related-firms that raised at least $2 million in capital during this time.


Funding isn’t the only engine driving healthcare IT. The $10 million X Prize competition funded by Qualcomm and supervised by Dr. Daniel Kraft , a serial entrepreneur and faculty member at Singularity and Stanford University, is another route.  The challenge is to put “Healthcare in the Palm of Your Hand” by  enabling your vital medical signs to be transmitted on a mobile device connected to your doctor for up to the minute tracking. Imagine how that will bear fruit for early detection and treatment. This truly could be life saving


One Springboard company that raised funds is Tiatros, which presented at our class of 2012. Kimberlie Cerrone, founder and CEO, was trying to solve a problem of her own; it turned out that her son had been shipped overseas to the battle zone in Iraq. Kimberlie wanted to have all of his vital mental health and treatment information in one place in case it was needed for emergency life support in battle. She couldn’t find a simple solution to bringing all his vital information together in a combined and secure file where doctors would be able to view all other medical history at the same.


Kimberlie, who has multiple degrees in biochemistry, an MBA and a law degree, started out to find a solution. She began with her colleagues at the San Francisco Medical Center for Research. If she could figure out how to bring together patient research from various potentially unrelated fields, Tiatros could be a life saver for the troops facing traumatic brain injury in war zones.


Already proven successful in beta tests in San Francisco, she may have cracked on of the most vexing problems dogging the healthcare industry: coordination among different physicians treating the same patient, with all the medical partners accessing the same data that’s housed in a secure cloud accessible via any internet connected device. Providing that info in one place could vastly improve coordination among physicians treating a patient and reduce healthcare costs.

Without a doubt, the rise of healthcare IT start-up companies is starting to grow from a stream to a fast flowing river. The San Francisco Bay area leads the charge followed by New York, Boston, Atlanta and Los Angeles. Investors are combing the stream of start-up companies for entrepreneurs and companies that can scale.


companies have been tackling the vexing problems of making healthcare more efficient and effective since the turn of this century but early attempts during internet 1.0 just couldn’t penetrate the complex system. Now nearly a decade and a half later, we are beginning to see real traction. This is good news for the industry and consumers alike.

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Windows 10: No More Monthly Patches

Windows 10: No More Monthly Patches | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

For its soon-to-be-released Windows 10 operating system, Microsoft will abandon its longtime practice of issuing a batch of "Patch Tuesday" product and security updates once per month. Instead, the company will begin offering 24/7, cloud-based patching, which will become the new default for consumers. For the enterprise market, a new Windows Update for Business will enable IT managers to take advantage of these anytime updates or define their own patch-release schedules.


Those are just some of the new Windows 10 features announced this week at Microsoft's Ignite conference in Chicago. Windows 10 could ship as early as summer 2015 for PCs, the company says, but the OS will launch later for smartphones, tablets, the Xbox and other devices. The operating system is the successor to Windows 8 - Microsoft skipped "Windows 9" - which was released in late 2012.


"Windows 10 follows the path first taken by the smartphone sector where iPhones, versions of Android and Windows Phones pioneered getting updates delivered to users as soon as they become available," says Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of security firm Qualys. "This strategy has worked out exceptionally well when it comes to security." Indeed, Verizon's 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report found that a scant 0.03 percent of smartphones get infected with "higher-grade" malicious code, which is orders of magnitude below PC infection rates.


But some notable Windows 10 security questions as yet remain unanswered. Microsoft has yet to reveal if its cloud-based approach to updating devices will work with just Windows 10, or also with Windows 7 and Windows 8. It's also unclear whether Windows Update for Business will replace the widely used Windows Server Update Services.

Windows 10 Security Overview

Ahead of the new operating system's debut, Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft's operating systems group, took to the stage in Chicago to describe four key information security areas that are being addressed in Windows 10:

  • Device protection: Hardware-based Secure Boot can restrict the types of software that load when the device is powered on. A new Device Guard can be set to only allow a "white list" of approved applications to run, backed by Hyper-V, a native hypervisor that creates virtual machines. And Microsoft is touting a "new device health capability" that ensures endpoints are free from malware and bugs, and fully updated, before they're allowed to connect to enterprise resources.
  • Identity protection: Microsoft says the Windows 10 Passport - which also uses Hyper-V - can protect credentials and handle secure authentication with networks and websites without sending passwords, thus providing a defense against phishing attacks. The new Windows Hello feature, meanwhile, allows for biometric access controls via faces or fingerprints.
  • Application protection: Microsoft will certify the security of applications purchased via its Windows Store for Business. Businesses can also set Device Guard to only allow those certified applications to run on a device. All applications will also be restricted to only using kernel-level drivers that are digitally signed by Microsoft. "Windows 10 will not allow older drivers to run unless fully compatible with Windows 10," says Sean Sullivan, security adviser at anti-virus vendor F-Secure. "Microsoft expects developers to tighten up their old code ... which is better for both security and the user experience."
  • Information protection: Enterprise Data Protection can be set to automatically encrypt all corporate data, including files, emails and website content, as it arrives on the device from online or corporate networks.
Security-Only Patching

With the introduction of Windows 10, Microsoft is also planning big changes to how Windows devices can be updated.

One notable change centers on updates for mission-critical systems - such as medical equipment or the supervisory control and data acquisition systems that power factories and refineries - that must never be allowed to crash, and for which IT managers thus often never install any Windows updates. As a result, such devices are often at risk from exploits that target known vulnerabilities.


With Windows 10, however, Microsoft will now issue "Long Term Servicing Branches" that will "contain only security updates, without any functional updates," Microsoft's Myerson says. That way, businesses should be able to keep these mission-critical systems patched against attacks that target known flaws, without worrying that various feature changes or upgrades will crash the system.

Windows Update for Business

With Windows 10, businesses will also have new types of patch-distribution capabilities, via Windows Update for Business, which Myerson says will be a free service for business-focused Windows Pro and Windows Enterprise devices. Windows Update for Business will offer four options that are designed to make updates easier and less expensive to manage, while also enabling IT managers to get security and functionality updates into users' hands more quickly:

  • Distribution waves: IT managers can specify update waves, so critical devices get untested patches first. Others could be set to still receive monthly patch updates. F-Secure's Sullivan says that this "looks like good stuff," because it will allow businesses to reduce the time they need to patch enterprise systems.
  • Maintenance windows: Patch managers can specify when updates should - or should not - occur.
  • Peer-to-peer delivery: P2P can be used to get updates to remote offices or workers. "The peer-to-peer distribution model for these updates will help with connectivity bottlenecks," Kandek says. "It's an attestation to the power of this networking technology which has been well tested in gaming and video distribution."
  • Integration: Microsoft says the new patching capabilities will work with existing systems management tools that handle patching, such as System Center and the Enterprise Mobility Suite.
Goodbye, Patch Tuesday

Windows 10 marks a big change to Microsoft's policy of releasing patches in monthly batches, which dates back to 2003. The rise of agile programming has changed businesses' and consumers' expectations about how - and how quickly - their software should receive updates.


Some vendors now patch and release fixes for flaws in a matter of days, or less. At the annual Pwn2Own hacking contest, for example, after security researchers demonstrate new flaws in widely used software products, Google and Mozilla regularly issue patches for those vulnerabilities in their Chrome and Firefox browsers in less than 24 hours.


Recent versions of those browsers have been built using agile development techniques - including rapid development "sprints" - that might see new versions of an application get released at least every few weeks. Coupled with those browsers having the ability to automatically receive and install updates, these more frequent releases allow developers to patch products more frequently, and that's led some companies, including Google, to adopt more rapid patching as the norm.


With Windows 10, Microsoft is positioning itself to embrace these techniques too, in part via its new "Microsoft Edge" browser, known previously by its "Project Spartan" code name.


"For enterprises, IT teams there do have the option to continue with tighter patch control and testing," Kandek says. "However, I don't doubt that most IT teams will see the advantages of shifting over to the new model, as it supports fast patching on the desktop level. More and more, our desktop PCs and laptops have become pure Internet-connected workstations that will have no dependencies on legacy applications that force the use of outdated software versions, so the old model for patching becomes less relevant over time."


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The first Apple Watch update arrives with faster app performance

The first Apple Watch update arrives with faster app performance | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

The Apple Watch arrived on the scene with at least a few rough edges, but the crew at 1 Infinite Loop is trying to smooth at least some of them today. The company has released a 1.0.1 update for the Watch that improves performance across the board, and should be a particular help with third-party apps hosted on your iPhone -- many of which seemingly took forever to load in the original release. The difference isn't dramatic in our experience, but it is there. Your wristwear should also do better jobs with Siri voice recognition and calculating fitness data (such as calories and distance), and the interface supports seven extra languages ranging from Brazilian Portugese to Turkish. This doesn't include any of the big interface-level features hinted at in recent rumors, but it's good to see Apple's first wearable get some much-needed polish.


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Why It's Tough to Pass Data Breach Bill

Why It's Tough to Pass Data Breach Bill | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Backers of a national data breach notification law say it would greatly simplify compliance for businesses, which now must comply with laws in 51 different jurisdictions - 47 states, three territories and Washington, D.C.


But does that simplification come at too high a cost? Some federal lawmakers thinks so. They say passing a national data breach notification law would weaken data security protections found in certain states' statutes, thus doing more harm than good.

And those concerns are a major reason why building a consensus that paves the way for enacting a national breach notification law will prove difficult, if not impossible.

'Confusing for Businesses'

Last January, President Obama noted when he proposed his version of national data breach notification: "Right now, nearly every state has a different law on this, and it's confusing for consumers and it's confusing for companies, and it's costly, too, to have to comply to this patchwork.


Almost every bill introduced in Congress over the past decade to create a national data breach notification standard would pre-empt state statutes. But that comes at a price. Several states, most notably Massachusetts, prescribe specific steps businesses must take to safeguard personally identifiable information. Most national data breach notification proposals don't require safeguards beyond saying businesses should take "reasonable" steps to secure PII.


Some industry experts - such as Larry Clinton, president of the trade group Internet Security Alliance - say they have seen no evidence that consumers' PII is more secure in those states that have more stringent security requirements. "To the notion that states can enact strong laws is, from a consumer perspective, a red herring," he says.

Middle Ground?

But some senators strongly disagree with Clinton's point of view.

"There are a number of like-minded senators who are paying attention to this issue and trying to push for a federal law ... that keeps state laws untouched as a middle-ground approach," says Chris Pierson, general counsel and chief security officer at payments provider Viewpost. "While this is more palatable for Congress, it does little to stem the growing diversity of state laws and the burden of conflicting state requirements."


One of those senators seeking a middle-ground approach is Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who, along with five other Democratic senators, has introduced legislation creating a national data breach notification law with a proviso: It won't pre-empt more stringent state laws.


"We must ensure consumers have strong protections on the federal level, but in so doing, we must make sure Congress doesn't weaken state protections that consumers rely on to keep their information safe," Blumenthal says. "Importantly, this measure strikes the right balance between state rights and strong federal enforcement and extends consumer privacy protections into a new digital era."

A right balance? Sasha Romanosky, an associate policy researcher at the think tank Rand Corp., characterizes the Democratic senators' bill as a "workaround" that sets a "national floor for breach compliance." But Romanosky is concerned that "then you'd just have the same issue as there is now: 47 potentially distinct state laws."


The Democrats' bill - like the Massachusetts statute - contains a list of security requirements with which businesses would have to comply. That makes the bill unpassable. Nearly every GOP lawmaker opposes any measure that that would place additional requirements on businesses.

60-Vote Threshold

Consumer advocacy groups generally oppose national data breach notification legislation that would weaken states' security standards. And those groups might have the clout to get enough Democratic senators to oppose any measure that would pre-empt state laws.

Sixty votes generally are needed for a bill to be considered by the Senate; the upper chamber has 44 Democrats and two independents who caucus with them. So getting 41 senators to block a vote on a data breach notification bill is possible.


Whether stricter state laws actually provide consumers with better security protections is debatable, but the perception among a number of lawmakers - mostly Democrats - is that they do. If at least 41 senators agree with that notion, then Congress will not enact a national breach notification law.


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