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News 1/3/17

January 3, 2017 News No Comments

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Several trade associations quickly weigh in on the Senate’s introduction of a timeline to repeal the ACA. MGMA President and CEO Halee Fisher-Wright, MD assures incoming lawmakers that the association will work with them if the resolution introduced by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) comes to pass. “Many elements of the ACA can be amended and improved with an infusion of new ideas,” she writes in what I assume is an unsolicited statement to President-elect Trump. “As Congress considers legislation that impacts the policies or financial underpinnings of the ACA, it should – above all – minimize disruptions to the nation’s healthcare delivery and payment system during any transition.” Minimizing disruptions is all fine and dandy, but I believe ensuring quality (and dare I add affordable?) patient care should be a Congressional priority – above all.

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Not to be left out, AMA President James Madara, MD also penned a missive to congressional leaders stressing the need to clearly outline any steps being considered as part of an ACA overhaul, especially policies related to healthcare coverage. He stresses that, “Patients and other stakeholders should be able to clearly compare current policy to new proposals so they can make informed decisions about whether it represents a step forward in the ongoing process of health reform.”


Webinars

January 18 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Modernizing Quality Improvement Through Clinical Process Measurement.” Sponsored by LogicStream Health. Presenters: Peter Chang, MD, CMIO, Tampa General Hospital; Brita Hansen, MD, CHIO, Hennepin County Medical Center. The presenters will describe how they implemented successful quality governance programs, engaged with their health system stakeholders, and delivered actionable information to clinical leadership and front-line clinicians. Q&A will follow.

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January 26 (Thursday) 1:00 ET. “Jump Start Your Care Coordination Program: 6 Strategies for Delivering Efficient, Effective Care.” Sponsored by Healthwise. Presenters: Jim Rogers, RN, RPSGT, director of healthcare solutions, Persistent Systems; Charlotte Brien, MBA, solutions consultant, Healthwise. This webinar will explain how to implement a patient-centered care coordination program that will increase quality as well as margins. It will provide real-world examples of how organizations used care coordination to decrease readmission rates, ED visits, and costs


Announcements and Implementations

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India-based RCM vendor ITech Workshop adds patient appointment scheduling capabilities to its billing and PM software.

Cytta upgrades its remote patient monitoring technology to operate on the Oracle Cloud via the company’s VeriSmartPhone technology.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Charlotte, NC-based startup Tesser Health secures $470,000 in seed funding from a group of investors led by Cofounders Capital. The seven-employee company, which will use the cash to build out its sales team and move into new office space, has developed software that helps employee benefit companies identify cheaper prescription drug options. I’m especially interested in news related to prescription drug pricing thanks to a recent virtual consult that ended up with my MD prescribing $200-plus ear drops that had no generic version available. On the advice of my pharmacist, who also tried to help me find online manufacturer coupons for the drug, I called back to request a different, cheaper medication. The NP who facilitated the second, far less expensive prescription half-jokingly told me that doctors “sometimes have to be nudged” into prescribing generics.


People

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Staffing company Supplemental Health Care hires Mary Lucas (Staffmark) as chief talent officer and Donna Carroll (North Highland) as chief sales officer. The Park City, UT-based firm has promoted Missy Blankenship to president of local offices; Monty Houdeshell to chief financial and administrative officer; and Chris Long and Linda McDonnell to SVP of nurse operations and travel nursing sales, respectively.


Telemedicine

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EarlySense adds American Well virtual consult access to its wireless home-monitoring technology, which includes the new Live under-the-bed sensor that monitors and analyzes heart, respiratory cycles, stress, and sleep indicators.

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New York-based payer MVP Health Care begins offering telemedicine services (including mental health consults) from American Well to its members in New York and Vermont this week. Chief Executive Denise Gonick believes the nonprofit is the only health plan that offers virtual visits to Medicaid beneficiaries.


Research and Innovation

A new survey from payer-focused health data company Healthmine highlights the ongoing disconnect between the plethora of digital health tools available to consumers and their ability to incorporate them into health and wellness programs. Of the 2,500 health plan members surveyed, 75 percent are willing to share health data collected via apps but only 32 percent report this happens automatically. Though 60 percent of consumers access their EHRs to stay informed, just 22 percent use that digital data to make healthcare decisions – a stat that belies the need for more discussion between physician and patient on the role, if any, such tools can play within a particular practice. Most surprising to me is the fact that 39 percent of those surveyed – all users of digital health tools – have never heard of telemedicine. Perhaps I have lived in my health IT bubble for too long …


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News 1/2/17

January 2, 2017 News No Comments

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Walgreens Boots Alliance subsidiary Duane Reade closes its 11 clinics in New York City amidst “scattered closures” in other cities. While the number isn’t exorbitant, it’s a move that makes me wonder if the market has finally reached full walk-in clinic saturation. Walgreens already operates a national chain of 400 Healthcare Clinics within its eponymous retail pharmacies, and has made headlines recently through its clinic partnerships with local health systems. By comparison, CVS operates 800 MinuteClinics within its stores. Accenture predicts 3,000 will be in operation by the close of 2017.


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Webinars

January 18 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Modernizing Quality Improvement Through Clinical Process Measurement.” Sponsored by LogicStream Health. Presenters: Peter Chang, MD, CMIO, Tampa General Hospital; Brita Hansen, MD, CHIO, Hennepin County Medical Center. The presenters will describe how they implemented successful quality governance programs, engaged with their health system stakeholders, and delivered actionable information to clinical leadership and front-line clinicians. Q&A will follow.

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January 26 (Thursday) 1:00 ET. “Jump Start Your Care Coordination Program: 6 Strategies for Delivering Efficient, Effective Care.” Sponsored by Healthwise. Presenters: Jim Rogers, RN, RPSGT, director of healthcare solutions, Persistent Systems; Charlotte Brien, MBA, solutions consultant, Healthwise. This webinar will explain how to implement a patient-centered care coordination program that will increase quality as well as margins. It will provide real-world examples of how organizations used care coordination to decrease readmission rates, ED visits, and costs.


Announcements and Implementations

Ezderm adds MIPS-qualified registry reporting resources from Healthmonix to its EHR and PM software.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Automotive News profiles a new concept clinic built for employees of auto supplier and diesel-engine manufacturer Cummins. The LiveWell Center, which is run by healthcare management company Premise Health, offers up front pricing for traditional primary care plus chiropractic care and cooking classes. Its 46 employees – many who have come from private practice – are enjoying the move away from fee-for-service. “In private practice, it’s a diagnostic approach,” says Medical Director Jill Beavins, MD. “The tools we had in our toolbox were much more limited. When you’re in a high-volume private practice, it’s hard to do justice to some of these conversations around diet and exercise in a 10-minute conversation. At the LiveWell Center, we have a lot more time.”


People

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Healthcare analytics company MetiStream adds Denny Lee (Microsoft) to its advisory board.


Government and Politics

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A number of states are using healthcare data in their fight to keep Medicaid expansion efforts alive ahead of potential cutbacks to the $545 billion program. Several, such as Ohio and Alaska, have created dashboards to display the positive effects of Medicaid expansion on care quality and outcomes. Avid tweeter and Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt highlighted Louisiana’s encouraging statistics in an effort to highlight the state’s expansion success. 

NEPR looks at the impact a new law requiring Massachusetts providers to use HIE-friendly EHRs will have on private practices. The law’s “fully interoperable” phrasing has left some physicians scratching their heads. Massachusetts Medical Society President James Gessner, MD admits that it’s not “going to be easy at all, and it might be fairly expensive, and it might be prohibitively expensive for small practices.” Valley Medical Group President Joel Feinman, who admits he wasn’t even aware of the law before being contacted by the media outlet, echoes the time-honored frustrations of independent MDs everywhere: “There’s a gap between what the legislature thinks needs to happen and what’s actually possible in the industry in any given moment.”


Research and Innovation

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Researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology develop a breathalyzer test capable of diagnosing up to 17 diseases from a single breath. Early-stage testing of the device has led to accurate disease detection nearly nine out of 10 times.


Other

The Nevada Dept. of Health and Human Services confirms that an unspecified vulnerability in a website portal for residents applying to sell medical marijuana leaked the driver’s license and social security numbers of 11,700 applicants. The portal has been taken offline while the department attempts to fix it.

Did you feel it?: Citizens of the Western hemisphere experienced the world’s 28th leap second on New Year’s Eve. (You can read about the origins of the extra second here.) Those in the Eastern Hemisphere experienced the same phenomena just after the start of 2017.

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And speaking of the New Year, my ears perked up when I heard that President-elect Trump celebrated the eve at an event headlined by Party on the Moon – a HIStalkapalooza favorite for several years now. Media outlets reported that tickets to the event rang in at $500 a pop. (That’s 100-percent more than what it costs for dedicated HIStalk readers to attend our HIMSS networking party thanks to Mr. H’s faith in the generous support of our sponsors.)

This would never fly in the workaholic USA: France passes a law giving employees the right to ignore work emails sent outside of typical working hours. Applicable to companies with 50 or more employees, the “right to disconnect” ruling is the country’s attempt to stem the tide of employee burnout and improve work-life balance. Compliance is voluntary, and no penalties have yet been associated with it.


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Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

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News 12/22/16

December 22, 2016 News No Comments

Top News

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At the behest of Santa Claus, the American Telemedicine Association establishes a Telehealth Command Center at the North Pole. “Now that my husband spends most mornings in traction recovering from ‘excessive egg nog’ the night before, life now is about making things easier and more affordable,” explains Mrs. Claus. Fred Keebler, head of toy manufacturing, believes the access to virtual consults will especially help Santa deal with such chronic healthcare issues as obesity, sleep apnea, hypertension, and early-stage diabetes. The center’s services will be made available to the elves as an added employee benefit.


Webinars

January 18 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Modernizing Quality Improvement Through Clinical Process Measurement.” Sponsored by LogicStream Health. Presenters: Peter Chang, MD, CMIO, Tampa General Hospital; Brita Hansen, MD, CHIO, Hennepin County Medical Center. The presenters will describe how they implemented successful quality governance programs, engaged with their health system stakeholders, and delivered actionable information to clinical leadership and front-line clinicians. Q&A will follow.

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January 26 (Thursday) 1:00 ET. “Jump Start Your Care Coordination Program: 6 Strategies for Delivering Efficient, Effective Care.” Sponsored by Healthwise. Presenters: Jim Rogers, RN, RPSGT, director of healthcare solutions, Persistent Systems; Charlotte Brien, MBA, solutions consultant, Healthwise. This webinar will explain how to implement a patient-centered care coordination program that will increase quality as well as margins. It will provide real-world examples of how organizations used care coordination to decrease readmission rates, ED visits, and costs.


Announcements and Implementations

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Sentry Data Systems offers analysis of physician compensation reporting with the launch of Provider Analytics.

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The Center for Rheumatology (NY) selects EHR, PM, and cloud hosting services and support from TSI Healthcare.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Alignment Healthcare launches Alignment Health Services to offer its partner companies access to the managed services company’s clinical model and population health technology. The California-based company serves over 40,000 patients through its work physician groups, hospitals, and payers in three states. The company has promoted COO Jenna Geiger to president of the new business unit, and hired Robert Lonardo (CareMore Health Plan) to take over the COO role.


Government and Politics

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Perhaps taking a cue from IBM CEO Ginny Rometty, DirectTrust President and CEO David Kibbe, MD offers President-elect Trump several recommendations, including appointing a National Coordinator who exhibits strong leadership skills – “someone respected by the medical community and thoroughly versed in current and emerging healthcare technologies;” and avoiding “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” when it comes to EHR adoption and interoperability policies. “We’ve made significant progress in the areas of increased HER adoption and interoperability during the past four years,” Kibbe says. “Our hope is that the momentum established to this point will continue under the new administration.”

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The HHS Office of the Inspector General highlights the need for IT systems development in an early-implementation review of Quality Payment Program management. The OIG specifically outlines the importance CMS should place on establishing individualized user accounts within the QPP portal, and the necessity of expanding the service desk. As one CMS official relates, “We understood early on that the portal was going to make or break the physician experience with the MIPS program. The way we communicate to them and how much of a hassle it is for them to communicate with us is important.” The review also stresses the need for backend testing of the new systems.


Other

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‘Tis the Season: FDA Historian John Swann recounts a time when the FDA was affectionately known as the “Food, Drug, and Toy Administration,” regulating playthings akin to those sold by SNL toy salesman Irwin Mainway – flammable dolls; infant and toddler toys that posed serious puncture, laceration, and crushing risks; and the “infamous” lawn darts. Perhaps none made as much of an impression as “clacker balls,” which the FDA found in the early 70s could “rupture and spew fragments, or become wayward missiles through detachment from or fraying of the cord itself.”


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Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

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Readers Write: Spotting a Spoofed Email in Healthcare

December 22, 2016 News No Comments

Spotting a Spoofed Email in Healthcare
By Matt Mellen

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Over the past year, healthcare organizations of all sizes have been impacted by cyberattacks. Most of them involve malware of one sort or another. As a former security operations lead at a hospital network in the San Francisco Bay Area, I learned what my research at Palo Alto Networks has confirmed: By far, the most common way for malware to make its way into Healthcare networks is by spoofed emails.

Spoofed emails are intended to fool the recipient into clicking a link or attachment that’s actually malicious. Once clicked, malware is typically downloaded and executed on the hospital workstation. There are plenty of technical approaches to filtering out these type of emails, but none are perfect. For that reason, it’s always prudent to also take some steps to educate your staff to help prevent them from clicking on malicious links and attachments in emails.

I’ll outline a few ‘tells’ or things your staff should look for to spot spoofed emails.

Tell #1. Look for Warning Signs
Before you click a link, look for warning signs that will help you determine its legitimacy. For example, was it sent by an unknown sender? Is it unsolicited? Are there any missing or replaced characters? Is it a shortened URL? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have received a phishing link.

Tell #2. Unofficial “From” Address
Look out for a sender’s email address that is similar to, but not the same as, a company’s official email address. Fraudsters often sign up for free email accounts with company names in them (such as “hospitalABC@gmail.com”). Users that don’t carefully review the sender’s email may miss the suspicious sending address.

Tell #3. Emotional Motivators
Fraudsters often prey on emotions to drive users to click on a link immediately. Emotions like fear, urgency, and curiosity are effective and frequently used. Additionally, be wary of emails containing phrases like “your account will be closed,” “your account has been compromised,” or “urgent action required.” The fraudster is taking advantage of your concern to trick you into providing confidential information.

Some examples:

  1. You have a new voicemail.
  2. Your mailbox is almost full.
  3. You have a new e-fax.
  4. We have detected a fraudulent credit card charge.
  5. Your account has been locked.
  6. View your invoice.
  7. Your package is at the front desk.

Tell #4. Generic Content
Fraudsters often send thousands of phishing emails at one time. They could have your email address, but they usually don’t know your name. Be skeptical of emails with a generic greeting like Dear Healthcare Professional or Dear Customer.

Tell #5. Grammar and Spelling Mistakes
Fraudsters will often make spelling or grammar mistakes when creating a phishing email. If an email sounds unprofessional, this is a red flag that the email may be a fake.

Tell #6. Fake and Obfuscated Links
Phishers include links in their emails to lure you to fake sites that look like the real ones to steal your login credentials or to sites that will infect your computer with malware. To find out where a link is really taking you, always hover over the hyperlink. If the URL that is displayed is only an IP address, does not match the URL that is shown in the email content. or is long and confusing but includes a familiar term, you are likely looking at a phishing link.

For example: https://login.hospitalXYZ.com.av6shj825.com/login.htm

Next-generation security technologies can stop many threats before they even reach the user, but for those that slip through, whether or not the attack is successful depends on the behavior of the staff. If you educate your personnel on what to look for, they’ll be much less likely to make a mistake and click on that malicious link or attachment.

Matt Mellen is security architect, healthcare at Palo Alto Networks in Santa Clara, CA.


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Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

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News 12/21/16

December 21, 2016 News No Comments

Top News

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CMS anticipates that 171,000 physicians will see a “downward payment adjustment” (such an innocuous way to say penalty) in 2017 for not meeting Meaningful Use requirements in 2015. The cut is slightly below the 209,000 who took a penalty in 2016, and far below the 257,000 EPs – almost half of those eligible – who saw punitive penalties in 2015. As you probably already know, Medicare MDs will transition out of the MU program into MIPS beginning with reporting periods in 2017 for the 2019 payment year. Medicaid physicians will attest to their respective states for MU incentive payments.


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Listening: My absolute favorite Christmas album is the soundtrack to 1965’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Fun facts: The holiday special was sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, written in just a few weeks, and animated in six months. Both its producers and the network predicted it would flop because it didn’t have a laugh track.

I plan on posting tomorrow, provided there is enough news to warrant readers’ time. HIStalk Practice will take a break next week, returning on Monday, January 2. Wishing you a Merry MACRA in 2017!


Webinars

January 18 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Modernizing Quality Improvement Through Clinical Process Measurement.” Sponsored by LogicStream Health. Presenters: Peter Chang, MD, CMIO, Tampa General Hospital; Brita Hansen, MD, CHIO, Hennepin County Medical Center. The presenters will describe how they implemented successful quality governance programs, engaged with their health system stakeholders, and delivered actionable information to clinical leadership and front-line clinicians. Q&A will follow.

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January 26 (Thursday) 1:00 ET. “Jump Start Your Care Coordination Program: 6 Strategies for Delivering Efficient, Effective Care.” Sponsored by Healthwise. Presenters: Jim Rogers, RN, RPSGT, director of healthcare solutions, Persistent Systems; Charlotte Brien, MBA, solutions consultant, Healthwise. This webinar will explain how to implement a patient-centered care coordination program that will increase quality as well as margins. It will provide real-world examples of how organizations used care coordination to decrease readmission rates, ED visits, and costs.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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New Jersey-based Allegiance Health Group’s ACO sees $2 million in savings across its 2,867 Medicare patients – a figure it attributes to population health management technology and services from HealthEC. The ACO has 43 physicians working in 28 practices. “We are a small group of providers working with patients from the inner cities of central New Jersey who still managed to achieve federal savings, reduce spending, and significantly have an impact on cost utilization,” says Allegiance ACO CEO Marc Whitman, MD adding that the PHM technology helped to alleviate back-office work so that physicians could spend more time with their patients.


Announcements and Implementations

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Behavioral health agency Our Children Our Future (FL) selects EHR and PM technology from the TenEleven Group.


Telemedicine

Fort Worth, TX-based Online Doctor Visit joins what seems like an already saturated market in launching direct-to-consumer virtual consults.


Government and Politics

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ONC releases an updated (and more interactive) catalog of interoperability standards and implementation specifications to help stakeholders better understand federal program requirements and utilization. “The Interoperability Standards Advisory is a key step toward achieving the goals we have outlined with our public and private sector partners in the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, as well as the Interoperability Pledge announced earlier this year,” explains National Coordinator Vindell Washington, MD. “We incorporated detailed stakeholder feedback to provide a consolidated, public list of standards and specifications that can be put to use to address clinical, public health, and research needs for sharing electronic health information.”

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HHS releases details on the Track 1+ ACO model announced as part of the final MACRA rule. In an effort to encourage more small practices to participate, the new track will offer more limited downside risk than Tracks 2 or 3 – a move the department attributes to physician practice feedback. It expects 70,000 clinicians to qualify for Advanced Alternative Payment Model incentive payments in 2018. Those working in the trenches are slightly less confident.


Research and Innovation

Walgreens will tap into Chicago-based incubator Matter’s network of entrepreneurs as it looks to stay on top of innovations in healthcare and pharmacy. The retail clinic and pharmacy chain, which announced this week that it will become the exclusive retail pharmacy provider for the University of Miami Health System and is in the midst of acquiring Rite-Aid for $9.4 billion, will lend its mentoring capabilities and development expertise to Matter’s 150-plus startups. (Perhaps it will share lessons learned from its ties with Theranos, which has resulted in a $140 million lawsuit.) Both organizations are founding members of the new business development-focused Healthcare Council of Chicago.


Other

The local news highlights a new pilot program in New Jersey that provides state employees with free direct primary care through managed primary care company R-Health. Physicians in the three-year pilot will be limited to 1,000 patients and receive a per-member fee per month, as well as incentives based on clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.

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Spoiler Alert: Slate takes a humorous look at the lax cybersecurity practices of the Empire in the new Star Wars film Rogue One. New America’s Open Technology Institute Director Kevin Bankston astutely observes that “best practices dictate that you should at least wait until you’ve ‘been able to conduct a meaningful forensic examination’ before testing out your planet-killing super weapon,” adding, “It seems like the guys who developed digital security for the Empire are the same guys who developed that completely useless storm trooper armor.”


Sponsor Updates

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PerfectServe employees are supporting charitable programs that include donating duffel bags packed with personal items for adolescents completing treatment services; providing financial support to a co-worker who lost belongings in an apartment fire; collecting food and supplies for families affected by the Gatlinburg, TN fires; and collecting food for the Chicago food bank.

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