Ransomware Underscores Value of Secure Messaging


May 15, 2017 Kirk Paul Kirkman, President, TigerText Client Organization

On Friday May 12, 2017, the world witnessed the effect that a ransomware attack can have on a large health system as the United Kingdom’s National Health System (NHS) became the latest victim of this serious and malevolent act. While U.S. health systems have been dealing with the ransomware threat as far back as 2012, this most recent event starkly reminds us that dependence on all-in-one software systems can leave hospitals especially vulnerable during unexpected attacks and system outages.

As a provider of a cloud enabled clinical communication and collaboration platform, we at TigerText find ourselves advising our health system customers more frequently on the importance a standalone solution can play as their contingency plan in the event of an attack. Our recommendation is simple: Your communication channel (system of action) must reside separately from the central information system (system of record).

Because cloud-based communications solutions operate in fortified data centers, they enjoy a clear advantage over on-premise solutions as they can be more nimble when critical situations arise. Having an architecture that separates communications from data preserves a vital workaround that can be leveraged for both care team communication (in the absence of EHR access), and for broadcasting organization-wide status updates to employees. Executives and IT teams can also use the platform to maintain protected health conversations and coordinate action plans for patient, family member, or public-facing communications.

Growing cyber attack threats are not a simple problem to solve. But there is one obvious and cost effective way to prepare for cyber attacks like those that have struck hospitals including Hollywood Presbyterian and Methodist Hospital in Kentucky and now the NHS: Redundancy.

With cloud-based platforms, any hospital unable to access its on-premise software could rely on a secure cloud platform (in TigerText’s case – a HITRUST Certified platform) to ensure critical communication and collaboration activities remain isolated during a ransomware attack. Care teams can coordinate activities without disruption via secure text messaging.  Doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals can continue caring for patients and ensure real-time, secure access to critical care team members.

While healthcare organizations primarily utilize TigerText to optimize their daily communication workflows, it is also true that if the unexpected happens and IT systems are compromised, a cloud based communication platform like ours will ensure care teams continue seamless operations on a separate, dedicated, secure platform.

We are in a new and disturbing era of emerging threats and failsafe thinking is vital to preserve continuity of care.
See how TigerText can help your organization optimize your workflows with its clinical communication platform. Learn more about it here.