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“We are alerting Windows users of a new type of ransomware that exhibits worm-like behavior,” Microsoft’s Malware Protection Center alert reads. “This ransom leverages removable and network drives to propagate itself and affect more users.”
Microsoft has released an alert today warning about a new ransomware variant called ZCryptor, which comes with the ability to self-propagate via removable and network drives.
A security researcher named Jack, behind the MalwareForMe blog, first discovered and wrote about this threat on May 24. Three days later, Microsoft ‘s security team also took note of the new wave of infections.
It has happened again. Another hospital system has been attacked by a ransomware. A malicious software that locks down our systems, encrypts our files and will only release them once a fee has been paid. This time It’s MedStar Health in the Baltimore area. http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/bs-hs-medstar-computer-outage-20160328-story.html
Tennessee Orthopedic Alliance, Presbyterian Medical Center in Southern California, Kentucky Methodist Hospital, Chino Valley Medical Center and Desert Valley Hospital have all been in the headlines for ransomware attacks recently. Thousands of infections go unreported and the nefarious programmers who designed this are making serious money. One FBI agent is quoted during a cyber security conference as stating “the easiest thing may be to just pay the ransom… the ransomware is just that good.” –rrstar.com
As the CEO of a national IT firm, I’ve watched my team battle with the rise in virus and ransomware attacks over the past couple of years. I’ve even found myself standing in front of a teller at a national bank, transferring money into a total stranger’s account for an express bitcoin purchase to pay the ransom for a client who had no other choice. Trust me, the entire exercise is unnerving. The reality is we do have a choice, but only before the infection. We have to educate, plan and protect to avoid falling into a situation where the only options left are to either sacrifice the data or pay these cyber thugs.
The primary point of entry for ransomware is through an unsuspecting employee who really thought there might be a FedEx tracking number attached to that email, or Amazon was truly rewarding them for being a loyal customer with a gift certificate. The lures are getting smarter and so should we. Sound the alarm.
Warn the team that we all have to be incredibly conscientious when opening emails. Unless you know the sender and you are expecting it, do not click on a download, link or attachment. If its suspicious, ask administration or your IT support to take a look. Additionally, we need appropriate security measures in place as well as a solid backup solution. Onsite backup strategies with multiple generations as well as offsite snapshots of our data is a must. No data that is important to us should be stored on individual machines that are not backed up. Centralize the files for simplified backup and security. Reevaluate your disaster and recovery safeguards to include contingencies for malicious software attacks. At the rate this epidemic is spreading, the question is not IF you will face this challenge, but WHEN will it happen.
Fortunately, 98% of our clients who have endured ransomware infections have been prepared. We were able to avoid paying the ransom by tracking down the installation, removing the threat and restoring valid data from backups. Pre-planning and strategic preparation is the only way to currently protect our businesses. We’ve helped hundreds of businesses, like yours to put these preparations in motion. If you have any concerns about how ready you might be for a ransomware infection or disaster of any kind, I invite you to schedule a call with one of our security specialists. We’d be happy to review your current strategy and help plug any holes we find.
As you know MedCo Data manages medical practices and businesses all across the United States. We’ve witnessed an alarming rate of ransomware infections over the past several weeks.
Ransomware is a malicious application that is usually introduced into the office via email, or a website that, “you” the recipient believes to be safe. Once launched, it encrypts all files on you PC and shared drives where all the important stuff is stored. The only options are to restore from a backup, forgetting what might be lost because it wasn’t backed up, or pay the ransom, over the internet with bitcoins to a foreign maleficent organization. Please be cautious and aware.
If you don’t know who it came from, do not open any attachments. Walmart, Amazon.com, Target, etc.… are NOT sending you gift certificates or awards of any kind for being loyal. You do not have a personal message from the IRS, even though it is tax season. You have not won the lottery, or even a scratch off. There is no package with a tracking number attached.
There may be a yes or no choice attached to the message. Both mean yes, so either way you are infected. It doesn’t matter what you select, it invites the infection. Close the message, delete and move on. If it’s a popup from the web, do not click any choice. Best bet is to shut down the PC and start it back up if you don’t know how to open task manager and close the browser.
At work or at home, the game has changed. Be very, very careful. There is a cost if you make the wrong decision.
In my travels throughout the country, I get asked a lot of questions. The hottest topic, by far, is ICD-10 and what it will mean to the average independent practice. To be candid, as Chief Medical Information Officer for MedcoData, it is my responsibility to speak with medical professionals regarding the various solutions we’ve designed to help practices transition to ICD-10. As such, I have a vested interest in making sure that you are properly forewarned of the implications associated with what could prove to be a very disruptive event for the average independent practice.
Regardless of my interests, though, you, as a medical professional, need to be acutely aware of how different your day at the office could be on October 1st if you haven’t taken the necessary steps to prepare. More importantly, you’ll need to be fully prepared for just how different the patient experience projects to be.
Here are just a few of the more significant implications of the roll-out;
- Physicians/clinical staff will need comprehensive training on coding
- Fundamental changes to templates, superbills, etc. will be necessary
- Interfaces may need to be re-written to accommodate codes
- Custom reports will likely need to be re-written
- Patient’s problem list & family-history must be updated to ICD-10 codes
- Cash flow may very well be a serious concern if you’re not prepared
As a physician, I understand the vital need for comprehensive and efficient processes when it comes to the management of a medical practice. As a business executive, I understand that no enterprise, much less a medical practice, can survive externally imposed changes to process without a plan. Likewise, no enterprise can survive a sustained downturn in receivables caused by the negative impacts of change, and this is likely the most significant issue of all. As you and your team adjust to the new ICD-10 reality, it is highly probable that fewer patients will be seen. Fewer patients equates to less revenue, of course, and so the need for preparation becomes clear.
For a great resource on all things ICD-10, please go to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website, cms.gov. Once there, you’ll have access to a number of great resources and articles on how to prepare for October 1st and beyond. There is a lot of information to dig into, of course, and very effective recommendations as well. If you’re curious or concerned about where to begin, or if you’re coming to the conclusion that perhaps you’ll need some expert assistance to get the job done, the following list of links will take you to the many solutions MedcoData offers to help the independent practice manage what may prove to be a truly challenging time.
As you’ll see when you go to the cms.gov website, the clock is ticking. If you think MedcoData may be able to help, give us a call today and breathe easier, knowing that our team of trusted advisors will be there for you every step of the way.
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With numerous opportunities to market healthcare practices (such as dermatologists, radiologists, plastic surgeons, and orthopedic surgeons), the primary social media platforms that will have an impact on your business are Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. These three tend to have the most impact on the healthcare profession than other outlets. In a poll by Pulse Digital Marketing, 51% of patients say that they feel more valued as a patient when doctors use social media, blogs, and other digital means to communicate. The poll also found that 41% said social media influenced their selection of a healthcare provider. However, directing the focus of your social media posts is really the key.
Facebook is the obvious choice for digital marketing, especially for healthcare professionals in B2C (Business-To-Consumer). Your target audience is looking for healthy living ideas, such as diet and exercise, to health education and events to videos from hospitals and healthcare providers just like you. Along with Facebook’s options to create display ads, and develop engaging posts, the ability to target specific users, it can also become the “voice of the patient”. You can select options like location, connections, demographics and interests. Here are some marketing benefit you can find for your healthcare practice:
- It is FREE and not much time is required to get started.
- Facebook provides a huge connected and targeted community. Why not try advertising on Facebook?:
- Connections: You have the ability to contact people who are connected to your event, app, or page. You can also connect with their friends, offering you a plethora of potential patients.
- Demographics: You can select the audience based on the demographic parameters you want, such as age, education, gender, and more.
- Interests: Find new patients based on their interests, hobbies, and pages that they already like on Facebook.
- Listening to interaction and feedback—sometimes, candid feedback—is extremely valuable to understanding the needs and wants of the customer/patient.
- It is excellent for search engine visibility and visitor traffic. With a PageRank of 1, creating a Facebook page and linking it to your website, blog, or other online accounts will help capture more traffic.
Obviously, there are more benefits to establishing your healthcare business on Facebook. Getting started on Facebook is easy, and will enable you to begin forming personal relationships with patients and other professionals.
Google+ should be in your arsenal of social media and can be a useful tool for marketing your practice. Google+ tends to be more about sharing ideas and content.
According to a 2013 Pew survey, one-third of U.S. adults who have ever gone online to try to figure out a medical condition they are dealing with – diagnosis, and 59 percent of U.S. adults say they went online in the past year to gather health information.
- Rise in the ranks: Participating in Google+ give you an advantage because the content you share has an “edge” against other stories. Everything you post on Google+ is automatically indexed by Google, significantly boosting your search engine results without any extra work.
- Your activity is amplified: As your following gets larger, content that is shared with your followers will also show up on those followers’ relevant Google.com searches. This helps keep your, say, dermatology practice on the top of followers’ minds.
- Be noticed in the crowd: Google+ allows you to create circles to group the people or companies you would like to follow. You can create custom circles, like Customers, Colleagues, Friends, Competitors, etc. without them having to ‘follow you back’. This will help you avoid sharing irrelevant content with people and tailor content you share to specific groups.
There are other advanced tools such as Circles, Communities, and Hangouts (Video chats…a webinar maybe?) that a healthcare marketer can utilize that will increase your visibility. I recommend that everyone that wants to promote themselves via social media familiarize themselves with all the tools at their disposal through Google+…there are many.
Over the past several years, the number of healthcare professionals on LinkedIn and their use of the platform have grown at an increasing rate. At the end of 2013, there were over 4.4 million healthcare practitioners, executives, channel followers, and opinion leaders on LinkedIn. It has over 332 million users and is a place where you can do professional networking. If you have been in business long, you know how crucial networking with others in your field or area is to stay abreast of the latest news, and create “referral” based relationships.
- Engage in groups by joining industry-specific groups that allows you to interact with potential patients and take part in discussions by posting to group forums.
- Creating Showcase Pages now allows companies that have unique aspects of their business with their own message to share, and a unique audience to share with. This LinkedIn page explains, “Showcase Pages allow you to extend your Company Page presence by creating a dedicated child page for those aspects of your business. Interested members can then follow your Showcase Page as they follow any Company Page”.
- Write “Influencer” Posts if you are a blogger. Linkedin announced its new blogging feature last year allowing anyone to become an “influencer”. However, to properly post the published posts they should be your own original views, not something copied and pasted from your company blog.
- Seek out recommendations and referrals by getting to know other healthcare professionals on the site. Then ask them to refer you to patients in need of your healthcare services.
Social media continues to expand and add tools to aid in building professional contacts so establishing yourself as a trusted medical expert is only going to become more important over time. It is a unique way to market yourself and your healthcare business by choosing a variety of social media marketing tools in today’s fast-paced digital world. With the cost of healthcare rising, patients won’t hesitate traveling longer distances to get better treatment at a lower cost either.
Okay, your blog may not be “life-saving” but healthcare practitioners should realize that social media interaction is important to the longevity of a business even if they haven’t quite grasped the concept of user engagement. It is crucial to use technology and incorporate a variety of elements into your digital marketing strategy that go beyond social media. Successful practices need an interactive, mobile responsive website, and most importantly, a blog.
Why a Doctor’s Blog?
Blogs serve a number of purposes:
- It helps position you as an authority in your field, creating a demand for your expertise….creates trust.
- It increases your SEO and search engine results…builds exposure.
- It drives traffic to your site…generates revenue.
- It helps build your brand…builds exposure.
- It helps foster potential patient engagement…creates trust.
You can see the common theme and purpose points to generating revenue.
Why are these elements important?
The more content you contribute to your blog, the more your content is seen. This helps build your brand and drives patients to your site to see what else you have to offer. User engagement keeps patients focused on your expertise which translates into revenue and referrals.
Using your social media to drive traffic to your blog is key. The use of visuals and videos to enhance your message also keeps visitors engaged along with fresh, unique content. If you don’t write then hire a writer to enhance your message through specific keywords in your content.
A blog opens up an entire world of possibilities where you can link to other trusted experts which establishes a professional network of resources. The more valued information you disburse, the more your brand will grow.
The trick to effective business management is to become an expert through the use of your engagement vehicles. Interesting, relevant content goes a long way. Visitors enjoy being able to get first-hand information and responses from your practice rather than going through red tape. The more effective you are at communicating with your visitors, the larger your reach and impact.
So get out there and blog.
I have noticed that I recently lost “Likes” on my Dermatology Facebook page. Why are my fans “unliking” me?
It is not just happening on your Dermatology Facebook page. It is happening all across Facebook.
Facebook rolled out a new policy on March 5, 2015 to update how Likes are counted and to make Likes more meaningful. Facebook provided the following explanation: “We’re updating the way Page Likes are counted by removing memorialized and voluntarily deactivated accounts. Over the coming weeks, Page admins should expect to see a small dip in their number of Page Likes as a result of this update. It’s important to remember, though, that these removed Likes represent people who were already inactive on Facebook.” Read more on their Page Likes update.
Facebook cites two key benefits:
- Business results: Removing inactive Facebook accounts from Page audience data gives your business up-to-date insights on the people who actively follow their Page and makes it easier for businesses to find people like their followers through tools like lookalike audiences.
- Consistency: Theye already filter out likes and comments generated by deactivated or memorialized accounts from individual Page posts, so this update keeps data consistent.
So, although you might see a dip in your page Likes, ultimately, it will benefit everyone and give you more accurate insights into your audience.
The Google Mobile Friendly update launched recently (or appropriately named #Mobilegeddon ). The mobile friendly update will potentially give a ranking boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results. If you took a look at your website’s Google Analytics you would probably find that more than 50% of your visitors are now using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets (1).
More often than before, people are searching and surfing the Web from mobile devices — around 60 percent of online traffic is now generated by mobile devices, according to a report published in mid-2014 by research firm ComScore. (2)
- Affects only search rankings on mobile devices
- Affects search results in all languages globally
- Applies to individual pages, not entire websites
If you’re not sure what “mobile friendly” means, take out your mobile device (i.e. Iphone, Ipad or other smart phone) and enter the web address of your practice into the search bar. How does the site look? Scrunched, too small to read? Does it force you to pull, pinch, scroll, and enlarge? If it is mobile optimized it should be easy to read and navigate as you scroll down.
So what does this mean for your business? The more mobile-friendly the site, the higher it will likely appear in the search results.
How do I know if Google thinks a page on my site is mobile friendly? Individual pages can be tested for “mobile-friendliness” using the Mobile-Friendly Test.
Don’t worry, all new websites developed along with our partners are mobile friendly and will meet Google’s new mobile friendly standard.
1. According to a study of 100 top mobile properties by Branding Brand, search accounted for nearly half of all smartphone traffic (43 percent) in Q1 2015, up 5 percent from the prior quarter. In addition, organic search produced 25 percent of all revenue on smartphone-optimized sites.