MHA CEO Report – Age-Friendly Health Systems

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

“Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.” — Benjamin Franklin

MHA CEO Brian PetersThe aging of the baby-boomer generation — defined as those born between 1946 and 1964 — is among the most significant megatrends affecting America. The number of individuals over age 65 is projected to jump from 21% of the nation’s population in 2012 to more than 39% by 2050. While the impact is already being felt across virtually every industry and every state, I would argue that healthcare is among the most significantly affected industries, and Michigan is among the most affected states. 

As people age, they leave the workforce and transition to a well-deserved new chapter in their lives. That transition means the loss of countless doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other talented, experienced healthcare professionals from our ranks. The transition also includes interacting with healthcare in a different way, where not only the frequency of care increases dramatically, but also the complexity. The projected fiscal viability of the Medicare Trust Fund gets plenty of media attention for this reason, but the other part of the equation is underreported: according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, the average couple retiring at age 65 would need $301,000 in savings to pay for their anticipated healthcare costs that Medicare does not cover. The reality is that most are woefully unprepared. 

Michigan will continue to feel these pressures very acutely: while other states certainly have baby boomers who continue to age, they also have higher birth rates and higher rates of migrants from other states and other countries to effectively create more balance. In relative terms, Michigan does not (as an aside, this is a big factor behind Michigan losing seats in our congressional delegation following recent U.S. census processes). 

The good news is that the MHA has leaned in on this topic, even beyond our traditional advocacy for fair and adequate Medicare funding, protecting the 340B prescription drug program, and much more. Thanks to funding from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the MHA Keystone Center is now launching its second Age-Friendly Health Systems Action Community free of charge to MHA members. The Action Community builds on existing practices of participating organizations and combines them to reliably implement the evidence-based framework of high-quality care with all older adults in the system.

Known as the “4Ms,” these themes identify the core issues that should drive all decision-making in the care of older adults. They organize care and focus on the older adult’s wellness and strengths rather than solely on illness. Together, the 4Ms — What Matters, Medication, Mentation and Mobility — allow health systems to focus on the needs of older adults.  Importantly, actions by health systems to become age friendly extend beyond just the lifesaving care provided within the hospital, but also establish a culture of collaboration across the community that benefits older adults for years to come. 

This work is even more important today, as older adults have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in terms of morbidity and mortality. Most notably, over 71% of COVID-19-related deaths in Michigan have occurred to individuals 70 years of age and older. Currently, with high rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state, every hospital bed and available staff member is crucial in our response to the pandemic. Hospitals need to have the ability to safely transfer patients who no longer need inpatient care to the appropriate post-acute care settings so that front-line caregivers can continue to focus on those with the most acute medical needs.  This very specific issue is just one example of how the healthcare system often fails to address the needs of our seniors in a timely and compassionate way.

We owe a great deal to our seniors. They fought wars on our behalf, raised families, pioneered technologies, bolstered communities and so much more. We can do better for them, and the Age-Friendly movement is one tangible way.      

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

MHA CEO Report – Leaders Become Executives; Not the Other Way Around

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood. Teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

MHA CEO Brian PetersHealthcare delivery systems depend on synergistic teams working together to deliver patient care. These systems are not just dependent on clinicians who are directly providing treatment to a patient, but to a wide variety of support staff, including janitorial, food service and security, just to name a few.

As healthcare executives, we know that the success of our organizations is directly correlated with the success of the staff that we employ and the teams they create. It is not always about how talented an individual is, but how well the collection of talent can work together toward a common goal. It is about leaders helping team members embrace challenges and uncomfortable situations because it contributes to delivering patient care and saving lives.

To achieve those goals, teams rely on leadership, whether formally or informally. These teams identify leaders by asking questions such as:

  • Is my co-worker understanding of the challenges that I’m facing?
  • Are expectations communicated clearly?
  • Is my work contributing to a greater purpose?

Later this week, I have the pleasure to speak at the annual meeting of the Great Lakes Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives, held virtually. The theme of the meeting is healthcare executive career management. Part of my presentation will focus on leadership, including the most valuable skills for a leader.

PeopleFluent outlined the five most important skills as:

  1. Empathy
  2. Communication
  3. Strategic decision-making
  4. Self-awareness
  5. Customer-first oriented.

If you reflect on the strong leaders that you’ve worked with, I’m sure many of these skills will come to mind. As the chief executive officer of the MHA, I have relied on these skills throughout my career, as well as sought them out when identifying other leaders within our association. The fact is leaders and executives do not become executives first and then develop these skills after accepting the position. These skills have been apparent and practiced throughout a career and are often one of the main reasons someone is deserving of an executive position.

Within these skills is whether we, as leaders, are modeling the appropriate behaviors to those we are leading. Simply put, are we practicing the same behaviors that we are stressing?

Our country is experiencing a far greater surge of COVID-19-positive cases than experienced in the spring. Leaders from both the healthcare and business communities have come together to convey the seriousness of our situation. Recently, hospital chief medical officers in Michigan release a joint statement on the topic, a day after members of the Michigan Economic Recovery Council issued a letter to Michigan’s political leaders expressing similar sentiments. We know that it is only a matter of time before another peak in hospitalizations and deaths follows. Unfortunately, our healthcare workforce is not immune. They live in our communities and are not exempt from community spread.

This workforce has served on the front lines of the pandemic for nearly eight months. They have experienced significant trauma. The mental and physical stress they experience is difficult to imagine. Burnout is real.

As our most valuable asset, we need to protect our caregivers. With physician and nursing shortages that were concerning even before the pandemic, our staffing resources are finite. We have the means to acquire and add more physical beds if necessary; acquiring hospital workers is much more difficult.

Recently, a growing concern of the executives of our member hospitals is that the rates at which healthcare staff are contracting COVID-19 is increasing, with many of these cases traced back to social exposure, as staff let their guard down and do not completely adhere to COVID-19 prevention guidelines. It can be as simple as getting too close with others while eating in a breakroom. It may be getting together over the weekend with friends indoors and without masks.

A key tenet of leadership is doing the right thing, no matter how difficult it may be. As healthcare leaders, we know that simple things such as wearing masks, staying physically distanced from others, washing our hands regularly and staying home saves lives. If we aspire to be the best versions of ourselves and the best leaders, we must model these behaviors to the best of our ability. Our staff, our teams and the public at large are looking to us for guidance. For us to be there and at the ready to care for them, practicing these guidelines is an absolute.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

MHA Monday Report Sept. 14, 2020

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Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Weeks of Aug. 31 and Sept. 7

The MHA continues to keep members apprised of developments affecting Michigan hospitals during the pandemic through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. …

Healthcare Issues Considered by Michigan Legislature

The Michigan House and Senate took up multiple pieces of legislation that would impact hospitals during the week of Sept. 7. Those bills address multiple areas of COVID-19-related liability, prescription drug transparency, authorization for health professionals with Canadian licenses to practice in Michigan, Michigan’s inclusion in an interstate …

CMS Requires More Hospital Price Transparency as it Plans Payment Overhaul

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently released a final rule to update the Medicare fee-for-service inpatient prospective payment system for fiscal year 2021, which begins Oct. 1. Key information from the final rule includes …

CMS Releases Final Rule for Long Term Care Hospitals

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently released a final rule to update the Medicare fee-for-service long term care hospital prospective payment system for fiscal year 2021, which begins Oct. 1. Key information from the final rule includes …

MHA CEO Report – Mental Health Impact from COVID-19

MHA CEO Brian Peters focuses on the mental health impact from COVID-19 on the healthcare workforce in Michigan. 

Upcoming Virtual Workshops Address Slips, Trips, Falls and Sharps Injuries

The MHA Keystone Center is hosting two virtual workshops in September as part of its statewide Workplace Safety Collaborative. Both workshops are offered free of charge to MHA members. The webinar Preventing Sharps Injuries will take place from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 15. …

Register Now for Sept. 23 MHA Virtual Member Forum on 2020 Election​

MHA members are invited to join the virtual forum on the 2020 election and politics presented by David Wasserman, house editor for The Cook Political Report, from 11 a.m. to noon EDT Sept. 23. Because political candidate positions on healthcare are critical as the COVID-19 …

Learn CMS Rules for Medication Administration in Sept. 29 Webinar

Medications are involved in 80% of all healthcare treatments, which is the primary reason the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services closely monitors medication procedures. Surveyors are thoroughly reviewing how hospitals are promoting safe opioid use, complying with …

Michigan Launches Initiative to Provide Free Education for Essential Workers

Michiganders who worked in essential industries during the second quarter of 2020 and put their health on the line for their communities amid the pandemic have earned an educational opportunity that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced during a Sept. 10 news conference. …

MHA Hosts Mental Health Twitter Chat

The MHA hosted a Twitter chat Sept. 9 to help educate and encourage the conversation around mental health as it relates to COVID-19 and National Suicide Prevention Awareness …

The Keckley Report

The COVID Economy is a One-two Gut Punch to Healthcare

“Last week, the Congressional Budget Office’ issued its updated outlook for FY 2020 predicting a record deficit of $3.3 trillion this year which includes $2.2 trillion for pandemic relief funding.

“It also noted that the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will have funds to cover only 95% of its 2024 obligations decreasing to 80% of its obligations in 2030. That’s two years sooner than its pre-pandemic warning.”

Paul Keckley. Sept. 8, 2020

News to Know

  • In preparation for Election Day 2020, the MHA’s MI Vote Matters campaign encourages voters to engage in the election and to support healthcare priorities on Nov. 3. ​

MHA in the News

Read recent coverage about the MHA, including an article from Second Wave Michigan that featured quotes from Jim Lee, vice president, data policy & analytics, MHA, on how data has been used to make informed decisions on the pandemic response, such as resource allocation and health disparities.

MHA CEO Report – Mental Health Impact from COVID-19

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” Fred Rogers

MHA CEO Brian PetersBefore COVID-19, increasing demands on physician and administrative leaders created an epidemic of burnout. The Triple Aim, a framework developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, is built on achieving better patient outcomes, creating a better patient experience and lowering healthcare costs. Over the past several years, the model also began focusing its efforts on a fourth goal of improving the work/life balance of healthcare providers, while incorporating the other three aims, in order to address the issue of burnout.

Yet, even our most successful organizations that implemented the Quadruple Aim could not have foreseen the challenges faced by the healthcare workforce from the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only have they experienced significant physical demands, but they arguably have endured an even greater strain on their mental health. Besides their roles as physicians, nurses and clinicians, hospital workers are parents and caregivers. They have dealt with the stress and fear of treating patients with a highly infectious disease and possibly transmitting that disease back to their loved ones at home. They have shared the grief and loss of their patients at rates they may have never experienced before, all while providing comfort when patients’ loved ones weren’t able to be physically present due to new infection control protocols that include strict visitation policies.

According to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, over half of adults in the U.S. reported poor mental health due to worry and stress over COVID-19. Specific to healthcare professionals, a review conducted by the medical journal QJM found that the rates of anxiety could be as high as 70% with rates of depression as high as 40%. Other issues reported by these sources include insomnia, burnout, emotional exhaustion, difficulty eating, increases in alcohol consumption or substance use, and worsening chronic conditions.

While we have been successful in flattening the curve of hospitalized COVID patients in Michigan, the mental recovery needed for those suffering from these traumatic experiences can take months or years. This month is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and over recent years we have seen a tragic increase in physician suicide, which is now among the highest of any profession. We recognize that nurses and other clinicians are subject to similar stressors as well. We want to convey to the over 234,000 staff who work in our member hospitals that sharing your mental struggles and seeking help is encouraged. Resources exist and are offered through both our hospitals or health systems, and community partners.

To bolster those resources, the MHA successfully advocated for the distribution of $5.1 million in behavioral health grants to inpatient psychiatric hospitals and psych units from the prepaid inpatient health plans. The MHA appreciates the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services initiating the payments, which are being funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act.

The MHA Council on Behavioral Health Integration also plays an important role in exploring and examining issues unique to our members who deliver behavioral healthcare services. Chaired by Selena Schmidt, director of outpatient services, Ascension Michigan and staffed by Laura Appel, senior vice president and chief innovation officer, MHA, the council develops recommendations addressing access and fostering integration with the greater healthcare delivery system. A key initiative currently being worked on is standardizing guidance for care of emergency department patients in psychiatric distress.

To increase awareness, the MHA is also hosting a Twitter chat from 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9 on the topic of mental health as it relates to COVID-19, which will feature input from guest expert Brian Ahmedani, PhD, Center for Health Policy & Health Services Research at Henry Ford Health System. For those unfamiliar with a Twitter chat, the MHA Twitter account will be facilitating several questions during the hour to spark conversation among participants on this very important topic. We encourage you to consider participating or having your organization participate to demonstrate your support for our healthcare heroes.

Lastly, the MHA is also receiving assistance from the American Hospital Association (AHA) on this issue. While circumstances related to the pandemic have necessitated the cancellation, the MHA was prepared to offer in partnership with the AHA a three-day retreat later this month to help physicians and other clinicians process the emotional toll and loss of normalcy created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We remain optimistic that similar offerings will be available in the future.

The health and well-being of our workforce continues to be a priority, and we will always assist and advocate for our members and the healthcare heroes that make up their organizations. The jobs of our healthcare providers rarely slow down, and as healthcare leaders, we must make sure our attention to safety goes beyond that of patients and includes our caregivers. They have selflessly served on the front lines of an unprecedented global pandemic and deserve all our support.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

MHA Monday Report Aug. 10, 2020

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Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Aug. 3

The MHA continues to keep members apprised of developments affecting Michigan hospitals during the pandemic through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. …

Corrected Unemployment Bills to Be Issued to Reimbursing Nonprofit Employers

In mid-July, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency issued the second quarter 2020 unemployment bills (UIA Form 1763) to “reimbursing” employers (nonprofit employers). …

CEO Report – Making Progress Against COVID-19

In this month's CEO Report, MHA CEO Brian Peters focuses on the progress the MHA and its members have made across a variety of challenges facing hospitals because of the COVID-19 pandemic. …

Changes Proposed for 2021 Medicare Outpatient Prospective Payment System

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently released a proposed rule to update the Medicare fee-for-service outpatient prospective payment system. Its proposals would become effective Jan. 1, 2021, unless otherwise noted. …

2020 Election Focus of MHA Virtual Member Forum

MHA members are invited to join a virtual forum on the 2020 election and politics presented by David Wasserman, house editor for The Cook Political Report, from 11 a.m. to noon EDT Sept. 23. …

CMS Releases Final Rules for Medicare Post-acute Care Services in FY 2021

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services made minor changes in the recently released final rules to update the Medicare fee-for-service inpatient psychiatric facility, inpatient rehabilitation facility and skilled nursing facility prospective payment systems for fiscal year 2021. …

Webinars Explore COVID-19 Health Inequity and Future Disease Treatments

The MHA webinar series Leadership and Resiliency: Navigating Through and Beyond COVID-19 explores several mission-critical leadership qualities that leaders need to help traverse this difficult time. …

New Lansing Senior Park Aligns with MHA Keystone Center Age-Friendly Efforts

The city of Lansing recently installed a senior-friendly park that features an exercise bike, stair stepper and handcycle, among other equipment. The FitLot park is near a senior community and market-rate apartments to further support the community’s access to recreational activities. …

Promote Vaccination during National Immunization Awareness Month

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, which highlights the efforts of hospitals and healthcare professionals to protect patients of all ages against vaccine-preventable diseases through on-time vaccination. …

Merritt Hawkins Releases 2020 Review of Physician Recruiting Incentives

Merritt Hawkins, an endorsed business partner of the MHA, has released its annual examination of the starting salaries and other incentives used to recruit physicians nationwide. Now in its 27th year, the firm’s Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives provides national benchmark data on physician recruiting incentives as well as a comprehensive analysis of the physician recruiting market. …

The Keckley Report

Four Healthcare Workforce Issues that Require Attention

“The U.S. healthcare industry employs 16.8 million. In the pandemic, it is considered an “essential industry” among several considered necessary to managing the crisis. Its frontline workers in nursing homes and hospitals enjoy heightened appreciation and public trust. But four problems in its workforce lurk beneath the surface.” …

Paul Keckley, Aug. 3, 2020

CEO Report – Advancing Health Equity

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

"Of all forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane." — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

MHA CEO Brian PetersAt this point one month ago, the wounds of George Floyd’s death were fresh as protests across the country called attention to the racial injustices faced by people of color in our society. Together with then MHA Board Chair John Fox, I made it clear that racial inequities present in Michigan communities are unacceptable and must end. Since then, healthcare leaders and organizations across the country have declared racism a public health emergency, conveying the seriousness and urgency that is being dedicated to the issue. At the MHA, we’ve held to our promise to listen, and we will continue to do so to be a part of the solution to eliminate implicit bias and inequities in care and to address social determinants of health.

A fresh reminder of inequities in care and social determinants of health can be seen in how COVID-19 has disproportionately affected people of color in southeast Michigan. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, recently testified to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, stating that the COVID-19 pandemic “has also further unveiled the tragic injustice of racial inequality in our society.” Food deserts, lack of readily available transportation and access to healthcare are all key social determinants of health that can lead to higher rates of obesity, heart disease and hypertension, which increases the risk of suffering adverse effects from COVID-19. While we may not be able to prevent the spread of a novel virus to our country, we can influence the health of our communities and our communities’ ability to respond to an outbreak. Within our organizations, we’re currently evaluating improvements our organizations can take to be better prepared for a surge of COVID-19 patients, such as increasing inventory of personal protective equipment, expanding bed capacity, ensuring vulnerable populations have access to testing and appropriate care and improving infectious disease protocols. At the same time, we can and should make an impact by helping the populations of our communities eliminate barriers to achieving a healthy lifestyle.

Another stark reminder of our need to address health disparities in our state is maternal mortality and the fact that women of color are 2.4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes in Michigan. During this year’s State of the State address, Gov. Whitmer brought attention to this issue that the MHA Keystone Center has been actively working to improve. While we work to remove implicit bias within society, one clear target for our attention is the health of our mothers and their babies.

Improving health equity is a giant lift, but the MHA Keystone Center is equipped to support healthcare systems in leading this change. Besides just focusing on improving maternal health outcomes, the MHA Keystone Center will soon be releasing a new guide, Eliminating Disparities to Advance Health Equity and Improve Quality. This tool will be used by our member hospitals to first identify health disparities within their communities and then develop a plan for how best to address them. The guide will direct our members on how to ensure equitable care is provided to all patients through an organizational approach that starts with establishing health equity as a strategic priority. While acknowledging the problem and the issues that cause it is half the battle, the guide outlines concrete actions that can be implemented today to drive improvement moving forward. 

There is no question that ensuring health equity needs to be a focus for the MHA and the healthcare field moving forward. Despite the examples of improving health equity, more can still be done. The MHA is a member of the American Hospital Association Institute for Diversity, and just as we work closely with the AHA on a range of federal advocacy issues, we will be collaborating with them on this effort as well. The mission of the MHA is to advance the health of ALL individuals and communities, and that mission has never been more relevant than today.     

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

MHA Monday Report April 6, 2020

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Combating the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of March 30

The number of confirmed cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan continues to grow rapidly, but the MHA and Michigan hospitals are coordinating with local, state and federal governmental agencies and others on several…

CEO Report – We Are in This Together

MHA CEO Brian Peters emphasizes the MHA’s continued support for Michigan’s hospitals and healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Whitmer Signs Supplemental Budget and Coronavirus Relief Bill​

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed two bills March 30 that will send additional funding to Michigan hospitals: a supplemental budget bill that raises Medicaid rates and a bill providing $50 million in funding for healthcare providers during the 2019 novel coronavirus…

American Hospital Association Takes 100 Million Mask Challenge Nationwide

To increase hospitals’ supply of personal protective equipment during the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Providence, a comprehensive healthcare organization based in Washington state, began the 100 Million Masks Challenge. One response to the challenge…

On-demand Webinar on COVID-19 Offered for Human Resources Professionals

As the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues, the employment landscape is rapidly evolving. Human resources professionals play an integral role in supporting their company’s workforce during challenging times. …

Governance Resources Focus on the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the American Hospital Association (AHA) continues to support hospitals and health systems and their governing boards, AHA Trustee Services is making available to AHA members a podcast about the COVID-19 pandemic with governance…

Headline Roundup: Week 4 of COVID-19 in Michigan

As Michigan enters the fourth week responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MHA has been actively fielding and responding to media requests on topics such as bed, testing and supply…

CEO Report – Mitigating Cybersecurity Risk

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." — Pablo Picasso

MHA CEO Brian PetersWhat comes to mind when you hear the word “tailgating”? Meeting with friends on a crisp fall afternoon outside the football stadium of your favorite team, firing up the grill, enjoying a few drinks before the big game? Until a few years ago, that is exactly what came to my mind. Unfortunately, “tailgating” has taken on a new meaning for me, and words and phrases like phishing, spear-phishing, smishing, vishing, spyware, malware, ransomware, and social engineering have conspired to keep me up at night. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, you need to get up to speed, and in a hurry. 

Cybersecurity has leapt into the public consciousness in a big way, and the terrifying reality is that, according to all the experts, healthcare is now the number one target of cybercriminals across the globe. The average cost of a healthcare-related breach is nearly three times the industry average, as personal health information can be as much as 10 to 50 times more valuable on the black market than credit card information. Beyond the financial risk, reputational harm — jeopardizing the trust of the patients and communities we serve — could be even more expensive.

In Michigan alone, we know all too well that no hospital, health system, physician practice or health insurance company is immune from an attack — and those are just the cases that we know about, which have been reported in the media. It isn’t just patient health and financial data that is a target, but even medical devices. Three years ago, the first documented cyberattack that affected medical device operability occurred; more recently, Medtronic in 2019 recalled certain MiniMed insulin pumps due to cybersecurity risks. To state the obvious, hospitals care for the vulnerable, the sick and the injured. Our need to be open 24/7/365 makes us soft targets for cybercrime, particularly ransomware attacks. The possibility of having to close an emergency department, or the inability to access an electronic medical record, is literally a case of life and death.

The MHA is taking this threat very seriously. My top priority as MHA CEO is the physical and psychological safety of our staff, as well as the safety and confidentiality of the data that we have been entrusted to house. As a result of a comprehensive review of our protocols, including both physical and cyber “penetration testing” by an expert consultant, we have implemented significant new safeguards. All MHA employees now must wear a photo ID badge/swipe card, and entry to our headquarters requires dual-factor authentication (using the physical swipe card, as well as entering a passcode). Visitors can no longer simply gain access to our facilities (and potentially our servers and computers) by walking in the front door, as we now have a state-of-the art badging process to proceed beyond the lobby. All MHA employees — myself included — are required to complete periodic cybersecurity training. And we routinely test ourselves with phishing schemes generated by our consultants to gauge whether we are recognizing and appropriately dealing with fraudulent and potentially damaging emails. We have deployed a new, more robust Barracuda service that, in the last month alone, successfully prevented 259 real-time phishing attempts against the MHA. Finally, we have implemented dual-factor authentication to gain access to our work PCs and laptops, thereby creating another line of defense should these devices fall into the wrong hands.

I am proud to say that the MHA is also working with our members to address this critical issue. Together with several partners, including Beaumont Health, Michigan Medicine, Munson Healthcare and Cyber Force Q (formerly Sequris), the MHA helped found the Michigan Healthcare Security Operations Center (Mi|HSOC), based in Plymouth. The Mi|HSOC is an advanced cybersecurity capability created for healthcare providers by healthcare providers, with the proven ability to prevent, detect, analyze and respond to cybersecurity events. This entity — the first of its kind in the nation — is operating 24/7/365; has created a shared workspace for the exchange of technologies, practices, processes and lessons learned; and is actively aligning with both state and federal critical infrastructure protections. In addition to tracking a steady stream of metrics, the Mi|HSOC is routinely engaging with authorities such as the Michigan State Police Cyber Division, the FBI and even the Secret Service. For those who are familiar with the MHA Keystone Patient Safety Organization (PSO), you can easily see many parallels here in terms of our approach; for years the PSO has allowed us to collect and analyze patient safety data from our members while also convening experts and caregivers in “safe table” meetings to learn about risks and how to deploy best practices.

MHA Chief Information Security Officer Mike Nowak and MHA Senior Vice President of Corporate Support Services Charlie Johnson have been doing a great job “running point” on these internal and external cybersecurity efforts. We also continue to work with our friends at the American Hospital Association (AHA); the AHA recently hired John Riggi, a former leader of the cybercrime unit at the FBI, to a new, full-time position to facilitate work in this space. In addition, the Healthcare Sector Coordinating Council has released a guide to help healthcare organizations attract and retain skilled cybersecurity talent, while a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services task group has released cybersecurity guidelines for the healthcare field.

Complacency is not an option when it comes to cybersecurity; we must continue to be vigilant and cautious. Doing everything in our power to mitigate this evolving risk is our best option to allow our physicians, nurses and staff to do what they do best: care for our patients. As with other important challenges, please know that the MHA is here to help.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.