Keys to Winning the Cybersecurity War

A cryptographer, a cyber security guru, and an NSA agent walk into a bar. Who buys the first round of drinks?
This is not farfetched, 43k people descended on San Francisco in February for this year’s RSA to discuss the future needs to secure our data and the technology that we use. Hot relevant topics to healthcare and pharma included – privacy, cyber threats, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and of course… hacking.

The Keys to Winning the War on Cyber Crime: Think Small & Collaborate: Chris Young of Intel security raised concern about the integrity of small data and called for collaboration in the industry as the only way to effectively secure our future. He expressed concern about the ways in which small data can be manipulated to disrupt our decision making and more.  For example, false information can be fed into automated cars to disrupt traffic systems. He focused in on the homes and the smart devices being recruited into the Mirai botnet army. He highlighted three collaborations: GitHub/OpenDXL,, and the Cyber Threat Alliance.

The call to cooperate and collaborate was echoed by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe who pointed out that states manage massive amounts of constituent data, and would benefit from a ‘unified national cybersecurity framework’. Coincidentally, during the conference, a security company, Recorded Future released a list of more than 60 organizations that had been hacked. The list included universities, city and state government, and federal agencies.

Geneva Convention for Cyber Crime: Microsoft president, Brad Smith called on governments of the world to unite in the fight against cybercrime.  He proposed a group of global tech experts, academics, civil society, and public and private sectors to examine attacks to determine whether it was made by a specific nation-state. While there are currently some information sharing efforts, privacy concerns remain an obstacle.

Nutrition-Like Security Labels: In his keynote at the RSA Security Conference, Hugh Thompson, CTO at Symantec talked about consumer labeling for devices that can be used to spy on us or recruited for another purpose. A possible solution, he said is to require manufacturers divulge the potential faults of their devices and called for a set of ‘security certifications’

Regulating the Internet of Things: Saying the risks of doing nothing are too great, Bruce Schneier, CTO at IBM Resilient called for creating a new government agency focused on IoT regulation to address threats like the Mirai botnet.  The market, he warned is not going to fix the problem of vulnerable devices because neither the buyer nor the seller cares.  “The market tends not to fix safety or security problems without government intervention” he said.

Can Artificial Intelligence Fill the Cyber Security Skills Gap?: As the need for cyber security grows, so too does the global talent shortage. That shortage was evident this month when 17 tech companies took their first public stand against a government policy when they filed a friend of the court brief in the lawsuits on the immigration executive order. They said that tech companies were already competing against each other for limited tech talent.  Can AI fill the skills gap? The consensus is that it cannot single-handedly detect and automatically respond to every possible attack. However, while AI cannot do it alone, several tools using some form of AI were showcased at the conference. Potentially ‘disruptive’ uses of AI are using it to sort the ‘good guys’ from the bad guys.  Those leveraging AI to better understand human behavior focused on identifying insider threats and suspect behavior.

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To HIMSS or Not To HIMSS? Find the Answer With 5 Questions

What’s reality vs perception?

The decision to exhibit at HIMSS or any other large trade show is usually made a year in advance. Do companies really know how to work a large show to get the most ROI? Is it really just about deep pockets? Are there other less expensive ways to have a competitive edge? This blog outlines the 5 questions to answer to HIMSS or not to HIMSS.

What is so magical about HIMSS? Does it really produce results? What’s reality vs perception?

With an estimated 40,000 attendees, the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Meeting is among the largest trade shows focused on healthcare information technology.  This year HIMSS will take over the Orlando Convention Center from February 19-23.

In many ways, HIMSS is no different than any other massive trade show. But, is HIMSS really the mecca for making HIT deals happen? Let’s look at the numbers.

There are over 1,200 exhibitors scheduled for this year’s exhibit floor. But, …

  • only 50% of the exhibitors are returning from 2016
  • only 25% of the exhibitors exhibited in 2015 and 2016
  • only 80 of the exhibitors go back to 2014
Based on the Lodescore Analytics database, HIMSS has churned through 3,000 exhibitors on its exhibit floor in the past three years.

Is HIMSS a bad trade show?

Why do companies decide not to exhibit at HIMSS? What does the churn really represent?

Not enough return on investment
Companies invest millions of dollars on concrete floor space, booths, and entertainment for 4 days of HIMSS exhibit time. It would be very difficult to justify this kind of expense without measurable return on investment from new partnerships and measurable new revenue.
Companies are flaming out
Healthcare is slow to evolve and change. It’s a $7 Trillion market. Huge opportunities for innovation and technology. Many start-ups run for the prize, but flame out before they get beyond the Valley of Death.
Not the right trade show or do not do the pre-work
HIMSS might not be the right event for a company. Even with 40k attendees, they may not fit the customer profile or have the decision authority to buy. Also, the exhibit floor is massive and many first timers are not prepared, don’t pre-seed or pull traffic to their booths, and drown in the sea of logos on the exhibit floor.

So, do you HIMSS or not? Here are the 5 questions to inform your HIMSS decision:

1. Are you a true start-up that is looking for its first customers?
You will get lost at HIMSS. You could get a badge and go guerrilla, but it probably would be best to find other smaller, more targeted HIT events that will cost less time and money.
2. Are you a start-up with tech partners?
See if your partner will allow you to hang and use their booth for demos and potential client meetings. If not, go guerrilla at HIMSS and focus on other smaller, more targeted HIT events. NOTE – Not all pavilions are the same. The Intelligent Health Pavilion does a phenomenal job showcasing tangible use cases and qualified HIT solutions. It doesn’t matter where it is on the show floor – just go. Then, there are pavilions filled with kiosks and are the lowest level entry for start-ups. I have never seen them get good foot traffic and  they usually turn into ghost towns by end of Day 2.
3. Are you a start-up with customers?
Go guerilla. Pack your schedule with customer meetings/dinners. Analyze the education program. Identify speakers that match your customer profile and then plant yourself in the front row during their presentation. Be prepared to recognize something specific about their interests when you introduce yourself following their presentation.
4. Are you a company between $1M-$15M?
DO NOT EXHIBIT. I know that it is so tempting and your marketing company will be chomping at the bit. But, you will be a small fish. You will be located on the side walls and will not get the traffic that you hoped for. Save up until you can get into the middle and/or the aisles to run with the big companies. Invest your money towards guerrilla tactics – send more employees and work the show beyond the exhibit floor. Work the educational programs, plan customer meetings and dinners, entertain like a King. You’ll probably spend as much, but if your tactics are focused and customer-centric, it will deliver the ROI that you need to grow revenue.
5. Are you a company >$15M?
Do a 20×20 foot booth (or bigger) and hand out Jelly Belly’s, Starbuck’s, or branded bottled water (my favorite!). Location matters; use the McDonald’s vs Burger King strategy and try to get near a cluster of your competitors. Their traffic becomes your traffic. Just think of that qualified lead visiting the booth next door and you lure them as they are leaving. Pre-plan meetings and find ways to show off your C-Suite executives through off-site events and dinners. Finally, make sure that you actually do something with all of your badge scan data. It’s unbelievable statistic but a reputable badge company shared with me that 80% of badge data is never touched post event. How’s that for effective pull-through tactics?

The reality is that HIMSS is what you make of it. Your success and decisions will depend on many factors. Ultimately, businesses need to be smarter about where, when, and how much they invest. They need to critically assess customer and competitor activities and tie them to quantifiable ROI. Lodestone Logic is the only company that provides a suite of productivity tools, data tools, and consulting services to simplify these processes and help you to have a competitive edge.

If you are heading to HIMSS and want to learn more about our Conference Optimization Services, let’s meet up in person. Send me an email at

Here’s to happy HIMSS-ing!

J.P. Morgan 2017 and FDA Chair Possibilities

This week, the ‘super bowl’ of biotech J.P. Morgan 2017 kicked off in San Francisco and Senate confirmation hearings on Trump nominees began in DC. While there is no official nominee for FDA chair, Jim O’Neill and Scott Gottlieb are under discussion.  Either way, the new Chair is likely to oversee much needed changes to our drug approval process.

National Cancer Institute Drug Formulary

At J.P. Morgan, Vice President Joe Biden spoke in favor of transparency and cooperation among cancer researchers as the fastest way forward and highlighted the National Cancer Institute Drug Formulary. The formulary is a public-private partnership with 20 – 30 pharmaceutical and biotech companies intended to facilitate research on new purposes, new compounds, and new combinations. The NCI Formulary is set to open next week.

No FDA Nominee on the Senate Confirmation Hearings Schedule YET

Trump’s intent for the FDA is not yet clear but he has indicated a focus on reform with an eye toward innovation and patient need which is consistent with the recent 21st Century Cures Act. Tech Pay Pal mogul Peter Thiel has been identified as someone involved in vetting the candidates.

Current estimates show that it costs over $2.5B and 12 years to move an innovative new pharmaceutical through the testing and approval process. No only do patients not gain access to life-saving drugs during these lengthy cycle-times, but these costs are translated into the very controversial pricing of drugs. So, with Trump’s focus on encouraging innovation while reducing overall drug prices (and costs of overall healthcare), it is no wonder that more progressive candidates are being considered.

Jim O’Neill

In a 2014 speechJim O’Neill, a colleague of Peter Thiel’s and an unconventional FDA Commissioner candidate, outlined the following perspective: “We should reform FDA so there is approving drugs after their sponsors have demonstrated safety–and let people start using them, at their own risk, but not much risk of safety. Let’s prove efficacy after they’ve been legalized.”  

Current regulators may struggle to translate what this type of wild, wild west concept for drug approvals would really look like. Yet, rare disease patient groups have been advocating for this model for many years. Sarepta’s Duchenne drug approval in 2016 shows encouraging transformation of the agency towards a more progressive model; Janet Woodcock is truly the hero.

While O’Neill is currently managing director at Mithril Capital Management, this is not his first trip to Washington. He is the the former HHS Deputy Secretary under George W. Bush.

Many are voicing concerns over O’Neill’s revolutionary thoughts and lack of medical background for the FDA post. If he were to be confirmed, it is predicted that it would cause disturbances at the agency and limit his effectiveness to do the transformative work that is needed.

OR Scott Gottlieb

Fan favorite Dr. Scott Gottlieb is also being vetted. Gottlieb has already done a tour of duty at the FDA and has been actively influencing policies regarding the recent 21st Century Cures Act. During a speech to the Energy and Commerce Committee, Gottlieb stated that “regulators made the barriers higher, not lower” and encouraged “as we improve our scientific understanding of rare diseases, and our ability to target their molecular origin, we’ll have more opportunities to treat and even cure the rarest disorders.”  

A partner at venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, fellow at the conservative think-tank the American Enterprise Institute, Gottlieb is an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act and has deep ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Some feel he is the better choice. He will push for and encourage change at the Agency. But, will it be transformative or fast enough for Trump?

Is Digital Health Living up to the Hype?

The Digital Health Summit at CES 2017, some new industry reports, and the likelihood of large scale changes to the ACA in the very near future, make now a good time to ask: “Is digital health living up to the hype?”

Digital Health is Still Growing

No doubt digital health is big business. The global market, according to a recent report, is valued at $11.47 billion in 2014 and is projected to grow to $102 billion by 2022.  Blood pressure monitors and blood glucose meters have the largest share of the market which includes pulse oximeters, multi-parameter trackers, sleep & apnea monitors, fitness sensors, neurological monitors, heart rate meters, EKG monitors, cardiac monitors, and more.

No Real Clinical Utility for Pricey Conditions

While there has been a sharp increase in consumer adoption of both mHealth and telemedicine the majority of mhealth users are still people who are in good health. More than half of those who report using a wearable are not doing so to monitor a health condition. An Accenture report found that only 2 percent of the patients at the 100 largest hospitals are using mobile health apps even though 66 of those hospitals offer them.

While the digital health market is growing, it has not established itself (or begun to do so) as effective in treating the chronic conditions that drive-up healthcare costs. A recent analysis of spending by disease identified diabetes as the most expensive condition accounting for $101 billion in diagnosis and treatment costs in 2013 and its cost is growing 36 times the second most pricey condition, ischemic heart disease. Real clinical utility for these chronic conditions is not yet at hand. Brian Kalis, managing director in Accenture’s Health practice says that apps are not engaging patients.

MHealth experts: Healthcare Providers need to take Digital Health Seriously

While some say that the apps are not good enough, others say that healthcare is not taking them seriously enough. In fact, healthcare is beginning to move toward serious adoption of mhealth but have continuing concerns about efficacy, privacy, and safety.

Last month, the AMA adopted a set of principles on mHealth apps. Among the guidelines for incorporating digital tools into their practices were effectiveness, data protection, and safety. The AMA recommends that physicians consult lawyers to ensure that privacy and security laws are met.  However, the recently passed 21st Century Cures act limited the FDA’s ability to regulate apps and devices and this could reduce the clarity about safety and effectiveness.

Patients share their physician’s concerns about privacy.  No doubt privacy concerns are fueled by ongoing hacks of healthcare data. A recent poll of consumers found that patient concerns about data privacy are climbing. Interestingly, this feeling also involves their assessment of their physician’s tech abilities.  69% of patients confirm their belief that their current primary care physician does not demonstrate enough technology prowess for them to trust divulging all their personal information.

Healthcare providers are beginning to show up at CES. The 2017 Health Care Summit at CES includes executives from Phillips, UnitedHealth Group, Harvard Medical School, the Cedars-Sinai Health System, the Mount Sinai Health System and more. Topics on the agenda include gamification in diabetes management, digital tech and obesity, the opioid epidemic, precision medicine and more. Additionally, this year, Dr. Mehmet Oz & ResMed are expected to release the results of a national sleep study. Interestingly, it could be that apps that promote our sleep health may also have an impact on diabetes costs because our sleep health appears to be tied to risks for both obesity and type 2 diabetes.