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Privacy Tech | Protenus offers hospitals a dynamic patient-monitoring platform Related reading: IAPP publishes '2021 Salary Survey'




Protenus co-founders Robert Lord and Nick Culberson spent a lot of time working with electronic health records when they were in med school. Despite the fact the U.S. government spent a lot of money to launch EHR technology, one important attribute was sorely lacking.

“The government spent 19 billion dollars rolling out electronic health records, but unfortunately, not much of that money was put toward security and very importantly, privacy protection as well,” said Lord. “What ends up happening is you have these electronic medical records that essentially anyone in a hospital system or network can access.”

The pair asked themselves some important questions:

“How are we protecting this data? Are we being good stewards of it as members of health care?”

Lord and Culberson knew the answer was no. The duo decided it was time to create a platform to help eliminate privacy concerns, while also streamlining the health care process.

Protenus, which just won the HPE-IAPP Innovation Award for technology, gathered a team of individuals with backgrounds ranging from particle physics, big data analytics, national security and human user interfaces to create their patient privacy monitoring platform.

The platform consists of two distinct pieces helping a health care organization monitor all the different actions going on within its walls.

The first part of Protenus’ patient monitoring platform is the “analytics and proactive detection piece.” Lord said the analytics platform takes the modern advances of big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and mathematical and computational advances and combines them to paint a picture of every single patient and EHR user within a hospital.

The analytics segment of the platform discovers a user’s workflow, incorporating HR data, pattern data, and various other elements.

“Basically what that analytical platform does is it takes HR data and it takes electronic medical record data, and it weaves it together to create a second-by-second picture of everything that happens in their electronic health record,” said Lord. “When we have that picture, we can make it user by user and understand their unique digital fingerprint. We can figure out what’s typical for them, their characteristics, what’s appropriate, what are their normal patterns of practices.”

The “forensics and investigation” part of the platform allows EHR users to easily sift through patient information, while also limiting the amount of false positives when responding to alarms.

Lord said privacy and security officers spent a lot of time investigating various cases, determining the who, what, where, when and why, then putting the entire puzzle together. The Protenus platform makes the entire process much simpler.

“What we’ve done is create a really easy to use point and click interactive interface that allows them to have all the data they need right at their fingerprints to resolve these cases,” said Lord. “They’ve got all the clinical information, administrative information, the second-by-second logs of everything that has happened, and it’s all presented with such easy visualizations and summaries, as well as actual language explanations that take all of that analytics and complex math and pushes forward into readily explainable compliance and reporting ready explanations of risks and mitigating factors.”

The reductions in false positives is only one of the benefits Lord has heard from users, with the platform accurately finding 97 to 99 percent of all alerts. Lord also said the platform saves organizations both time and money by simplifying their workflows.

One benefit Lord noted was the platform gives organizations the confidence to both identify threats, and root out bad actors. “A lot of it is around creating an environment where people know that they are being held accountable for actions,” said Lord. “What Protenus does is it allows you to create a culture of trust, where individuals are held accountable for inappropriate access to patient data … sometimes people make an honest mistake, but sometimes it reveals more systematic problems in training and understanding execution that can be addressed.”

Lord sees education as an important part of instilling a culture of privacy, but also believes there will always be a segment of individuals in the privacy and health care industries who will simply tune out the message. By adding technology such as the Protenus platform to the process, Lord feels it makes education more effective, by showing how privacy officers do their job, and the ways the technology affects the lives of patients.

Protenus will continue to work on their platform, and hopes it becomes the industry standard for monitoring activity in hospitals and remedying threats. With the industries Lord works in never staying stagnant, the company knows it needs technology capable of growing with the organization it is assisting.

“In the cybersecurity and privacy industry, there’s one consistent, and that’s change. That means you need a system from the bottom up,” said Lord. “We think of Protenus as this underlying analytics platform. It’s a true big data solution, that as it solves cases, it works side by side with an intelligence companion and with compliance and security officers. It allows you to learn and evolve the platform.”

“Protenus is growing every single day it’s deployed. Every single additional hospital, health system, payer or an environment in which it functions, it’s capable of continually getting better and learning from threats, as well as incorporating the latest advances in technology. It’s not just about what you need now. It’s about putting in place an analytics platform that is going to grow with you, with your institution, with the world around you in order to make sure your security and privacy posture is just as strong in the future as it today.” 

Top Photo: Robert Lord accepts the HPE-IAPP Innovation Award on behalf of Protenus.


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