HMT: Security hacks, Medicare penalizes hospitals, Google docs, and more
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Health Management Technology News
November 18, 2013

In this issue:

The human hack: How to fight an Internet risk technology can't fix

Nearly 1,500 hospitals penalized under Medicare program rating quality

Start-up leaders recall choice to cash in or stay independent

Will Google Docs kill off Microsoft Office?

Why Google cut off SEO keyword data - And what marketers can do about it


Security

The human hack: How to fight an Internet risk technology can't fix

A year ago, James Robinson played a trick on about 600 salespeople at a company where you wouldn't expect the employees to be easily fooled.

Staffers at Websense Inc. got a generic-looking e-mail that encouraged them to click on a link to learn which product they could sell to earn a bigger bonus. The link led to an unfamiliar website that asked for their user names and passwords.

"What came back to us was crazy, it was in the 60 to 70 percentile – people were clicking on the link," said Robinson, security architecture and strategy officer at the San Diego-based company. Of those who clicked, 80 percent proceeded to obediently type in their log-in credentials, which is the kind of information that could allow a hacker to break into a corporate network and steal critical data.

Even more alarming? These folks sell cyber-security products for a living.

As businesses spend billions every year to shore up their cyber defenses against sophisticated hackers, many companies are realizing that relatively unsophisticated attacks can still be the biggest risk when they're targeting what's often the weakest link: the employees.

Read the Bloomberg article.

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Medicare & Medicaid

Nearly 1,500 hospitals penalized under Medicare program rating quality

More hospitals are receiving penalties than bonuses in the second year of Medicare’s quality incentive program, and the average penalty is steeper than it was last year, government records show.

Medicare has raised payment rates to 1,231 hospitals based on two-dozen quality measurements, including surveys of patient satisfaction and – for the first time – death rates. Another 1,451 hospitals are being paid less for each Medicare patient they treat.

For half the hospitals, the financial changes that started last month are negligible: they are gaining or losing less than a fifth of one percent what Medicare otherwise would have paid. Others are experiencing greater swings. Gallup Indian Medical Center in New Mexico, a federal government hospital on the border of the Navajo Reservation, will be paid 1.14 percent less for each patient. Arkansas Heart Hospital in Little Rock, a physician-owned hospital that only handles cardiovascular cases, will get the largest bonus, 0.88 percent. The bonuses and penalties are one piece of the health care law’s efforts to create financial incentives for doctors and hospitals to provide better care. They come at a tumultuous time as the technical problems of the healthcare.gov insurance portal and premium prices are stoking questions about the law’s viability. The incentives are among the law’s few cost-control provisions that have kicked in, but it is too early to tell how effective they will be in making hospitals operate more efficiently.

"This program is driving what we want in health care," said Dr. Patrick Conway, Medicare’s chief medical officer. He said most hospitals have improved since the program began a year ago. However, even some hospitals that have gotten better are still losing money because they are not scoring as well as others or have not improved as much.

Read the KHN article.

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The Business of Technology

Start-up leaders recall choice to cash in or stay independent

The reactions last week flowed like those to a Rorschach test.

Were the young founders of Snapchat, a mobile-messaging start-up, delusional for turning down a multibillion-dollar buyout offer? Greedy to think they might get more later? Or courageous to chase their dreams?

The decision they faced – to cash out or remain independent – is one that all successful technology entrepreneurs eventually confront. The founders face cold business considerations: pressure from investors and workers who want liquidity, and complex calculations about timing in a dynamic industry. But the choices also involve ambition and exhaustion, competition and loyalty, dreams and reality.

The successes get the attention. But Silicon Valley is littered with stories of companies that gave up money by rejecting offers and of those that sold too early. “It’s never obvious whether to sell or hold,” said Ben Horowitz, of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, an early investor in Instagram, which was co-founded by Kevin Systrom and sold to Facebook for $1 billion. “When Kevin sold Instagram, people said he was a genius, and now they’re asking whether he did it too early, and they’re saying Snapchat is so bold,” he said. “Who was right? We don’t know yet.”

When Snapchat’s founders rejected the buyout offer, it conjured memories among start-up founders who once faced a similar decision. Nine recounted their thoughts in that moment – when the money was on the table and the future was unpredictable.

Read the NY Times article.

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Business Applications

Will Google Docs kill off Microsoft Office?

For years, Microsoft has stockpiled a large amount of cash from sales of its Office productivity software suite.

Yet over the past year, something peculiar happened. Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) has made it easier for consumers to access Office via the cloud and online downloads, regardless of what computer you're using. In the past week, Office even enabled real-time, collaborative document editing for its free offering, Office Web Apps.

Why the big push into making these offline money makers into cheaper cloud services? Blame Google (GOOG, Fortune 500).

When Google Docs first launched in 2006, it was mostly a curiosity. Cloud-based services were not yet a way of life, and support with Microsoft's Office formats was minimal. But Google Docs has been improved upon bit by bit over the past few years and is now an extremely useful and increasingly popular collection of software.

Google Docs is no longer a curiosity. It's a legitimate threat to Microsoft.

Google's productivity tools may lack some of Office's advanced features, but are easier and simpler to use than anything Microsoft offers – especially when it comes to the cloud-centric features.

Microsoft is still a huge player in this business of course. It claims that Office is installed on more than 1 billion machines. In 2012, Gartner estimated that Office had a 90% market share in the enterprise market.

If you focus on the cloud, however, the story changes.

Read the CNN article.

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Search Engine Optimization

Why Google cut off SEO keyword data - And what marketers can do about it

Google confirmed a few weeks ago that moving forward, all keywords from organic search will be encrypted, or secured through the HTTPS protocol. From an SEO perspective, this means site owners and marketers will no longer benefit from organic referral keyword data.

"Not provided" is a term that SEOs have been familiar with for the past couple of years now. For those unfamiliar with "not provided," this is how a referral keyword is listed in Google Analytics as a result of an encrypted search. "Not provided" started in October 2011, when Google decided to change its privacy policy to protect users who were logged into their Google accounts. These logged-in users performing a query through Google would then have their keywords suppressed from Web analytics tools. These keywords showed as "not provided" in Google Analytics, as "keyword unavailable" in Omniture and as "search phrase not provided" in WebTrends.

Over the years, the amount of traffic from "not provided" referrals grew. This was not only due to an increasing number of users logged into their Google accounts, but also, back in the middle of 2012, Firefox 14 included secure search in its search bar. This was shortly followed by Safari on iOS6. Then earlier this year, Chrome started encrypting search performed through its address bar. All of this contributed to progressively growing "not provided" referral traffic.

In September, something drastic occurred.

Read the Target Marketing article.

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