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Healthcare Orgs May Be Ramping Up Cybersecurity Efforts

Posted on August 18, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

As I’ve noted (too) many times in the past, healthcare organizations don’t have a great track record when it comes to cybersecurity. Compared to other industries, healthcare organizations spend relatively little on IT security overall, and despite harangues from people like myself, this has remained the case for many years.

However, a small new survey by HIMSS suggests that the tide may be turning. It’s not incredibly surprising to hear, as health it leaders have been facing increasingly frequent cybersecurity attacks. A case in point: In a recent study by Netwrix Corp., more than half of healthcare organizations reported struggling with malware, and that’s just one of many ongoing cyber security threats.

The HIMSS cybersecurity survey, which tallies responses from 126 IT leaders, concluded that security professionals are focusing on medical device security, and that patient safety, data breaches and malware were their top three concerns.

In the survey, HIMSS found that 71% of respondents were allocating some of their budgets toward cybersecurity and that 80% said that their organization employed dedicated cybersecurity staff.

Meanwhile, 78% of respondents were able to identify a cybersecurity staffing ratio (i.e. the number of cybersecurity specialists versus other employees), and 53% said the ratio was 1:500 which, according to HIMSS is considered the right ratio for information-centric, risk-averse businesses with considerable Internet exposure.

Also of note, it seems that budgets for cybersecurity are getting more substantial. Of the 71% of respondents whose organizations are budgeting for cybersecurity efforts, 60% allocated 3% or more of their overall budget to the problem. And that’s not all. Eleven percent of respondents said that they were allocating more than 10% of the budget to cybersecurity, which is fairly impressive.

Other stats from the survey included that 60% of respondents said their organizations employed a senior information security leader such as a Chief Information Security Officer.  In its press release covering the survey, it noted that CISOs and other top security leaders are adopting cybersecurity programs that cut across several areas, including procurement and education/training. The security leaders are also adopting the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

According to HIMSS, 85% of respondents said they conduct a risk assessment at least once a year, and that 75% of them regularly conduct penetration testing. Meanwhile, 75% said they had some type of insider threat management program in place within their healthcare organization.

One final note: In the report, HIMSS noted that acute care providers had more specific concerns was cybersecurity than non-acute care providers. Over the next few years, as individual practices merge with larger ones, and everyone gets swept up into ACOs, I wonder if that distinction will even matter anymore.

My take is that when smaller organizations work with big ones, everyone’s tech is set up reach the level better-capitalized players have achieved, and that will standardize everyone’s concerns. What do you think?

Diversity in HIT – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on August 15, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 8/18 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Jeanmarie Loria (@JeanmarieLoria) from @advizehealth on the topic of “Diversity in HIT.”

Diversity has positioned itself at the forefront of social awareness for quite some time now, the apparent need for it heightened by the socio-political climate…but what exactly is diversity? Is it offering apples and oranges? Is it a mélange of people with different experiences and perspectives? Is it working to ensure that your practice or firm meets the standards of an equal opportunity employer? Diversity, in fact, is all of these things and more. Diversity is a noun, a controversy, a buzzword, and most importantly – a social responsibility that we as responsible citizens and harbingers of care should not take lightly.

Healthcare as an industry is inherently diverse, as both health and the subsequent care associated with it are universal needs. Accessibility, method of receipt, measures, and types of care may vary within each community – but the need for healthcare, of any kind, is an absolute. This is why the lack of diversity in healthcare and its peripheral workforces is so perplexing. Diverse needs should equate to diverse solutions; especially where technology plays an integral role. Consider for a moment the diversity (or lack thereof) in the tech industry. Does it parallel healthcare’s own diversity problem? To an extent, yes.

Enter the world of Healthcare IT and you’ll observe a similar deficit. Healthcare IT, an industry born out of the need for diverse solutions in data sharing, patient privacy, and quality of care is progressive in its achievements with the implementation of EHR, the utilization of AI to improve care delivery, and efforts to protect private information, but there is always room for improvement.

This chat will facilitate a discussion on how diversity applies to Healthcare IT considering both the workforce and the technologies developed; and will examine perspectives on diversity in Healthcare IT from those who eat, sleep, and breathe it.

Questions we will explore in this week’s #HITsm chat include:
T1: What words or phrases come to mind when you hear the term “diversity”? #HITsm #Diversity

T2: How is Healthcare IT affected by diversity in any capacity, and have we already seen an impact on the industry from diversity initiatives? #HITsm

T3: How can diversity be leveraged to improve patient care and/or outcomes? #HITsm

T4: Has the recent push for diversity had any NEGATIVE impacts on Healthcare IT? #HITsm

T5: Which is more important to the goals of Healthcare IT: diverse technologies or diverse people? #HITsm

Bonus: Should diversity in Healthcare IT be heralded as a priority, and how is your firm working towards achieving that goal? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
8/25 – Consumer Data Liquidity – The Road So Far, The Road Ahead
Hosted by Greg Meyer (@Greg_Meyer93)

9/1 – Digital Strategies for Improving Consumer Experience
Hosted by Kyra Hagan (@HIT_Mktg_Maven from @InfluenceHlth)

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always, let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

Despite Privacy Worries, Consumers Trust Apple With Their Health Data

Posted on August 14, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

These days, everyone seems to want access to consumer health data. We’re talking not just about healthcare companies, but also financial firms, insurance companies and technology giants like Apple, Google and Amazon.

Consumers have every reason to be concerned how their data is used, as companies outside of the healthcare realm, in particular, might use it in ways that make them uncomfortable. After all, these health-related companies may not have to follow HIPAA rules. Not only that, laws that govern data collection of any kind are still evolving on the state and federal level. It’s just not clear where privacy rules for health data are going.

Troubling ambiguities like these may be why 37% of the 1,000-plus people responding to a new Twitter poll said they wouldn’t share their data with anyone. Perhaps they’ve begun to realize that companies like Google could do a lot of harm if they act recklessly with the health data they’re accumulating.

Nonetheless, there’s at least one company they trust more than others with their PHI, according to the poll, which was conducted by a CNBC writer. That company is Apple, says columnist Christina Farr. When asked which companies they trust with the health data, 41% picked Apple. Meanwhile, Google and Amazon came in at 14% and 8% respectively. That’s a pretty big gap.

Why do consumers trust Apple more than other technology companies?  It’s far from clear. But Andrew Boyd, a professor of biomedical and health information sciences at the University of Illinois, suggests that it’s because Apple has taken steps to foster trust. “Apple has done a big push around health and privacy to breed familiarity and comfort,” Boyd told CNBC.

He noted that Apple has announced plans to make aggregated health information available on smartphones. Next, it plans to integrate other medical data, such as lab results, which usually aren’t part of an integrated health record, Farr points out. Apple has also promised users that it won’t sell health data to advertisers or third-party developers.

Ideally, other companies should be following in Apple’s footsteps, suggests health data privacy expert Lucia Savage, who responded to the Twitter poll.

Savage, who is currently serving as chief privacy and regulatory officer at Omada Health, believes that any company that collects health data should at least provide consumers with a summary of the data they collect on their users and promise not to sell it. (She didn’t say so directly, but we know most non-healthcare firms can’t be bothered with such niceties.)

I think we all look forward to the day when every company takes health data privacy seriously. But giants like Google, with effectively infinite resources, are still pushing the envelope, and we can only expect its competitors to do the same thing. Unless consumers mount a massive protest, or there’s a radical change in federal law, I suspect most non-healthcare firms will keep using health data however they please.

Patients Want Customizations – Just Not Too Much!

Posted on August 10, 2017 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Cristina Dafonte, Marketing Associate of Stericycle Communication Solutions as part of the Communication Solutions Series of blog posts. Follow and engage with them on Twitter:@StericycleComms
cristina-dafonteEverything around us is customizable: your laptop background, the layout of applications on your phone, any product dashboard you have access to. Customization sells, and consumers crave it. Consumers love to think that something is unique or special for just them, even if they know in their hearts that isn’t the case.

Patient engagement, especially appointment reminders, shouldn’t be the exception to the rule. We’ve far surpassed the days of the robo-dialer letting you know your doctor’s office was calling. Today, patients look for custom communications.

There are two ends of the spectrum that I have seen with customization of appointment reminders. The first is no customization at all.

Example: My dentist sends an email that is “Please click to confirm your appointment. We look forward to seeing you!” And includes a large CONFIRM button.

This message leaves me wondering a few things: when is my appointment? Which dentist am I seeing? What if I need to reschedule? What kind of appointment did I schedule? The message wasn’t personalized to my appointment or to me.

The second end of the spectrum is too much customization. I didn’t know it was possible to personalize a message too much until I received the following text message from my eye doctor:

(1/2) Hi Cristina, your contacts are ready for pick up. Please stop by the office at your earliest convenience to get them. Our office hours are 7-3pm on the first Monday of every month, 8-4pm every

(2/2) other Tuesday, and 8-6pm on the second Thursday of every month, and 7-12pm on Friday. Thank you for choosing [my eye doctor].

The first time I received that text message, I read it at least 3 times, trying to figure out what the office hours were for the day I needed to go get my contacts! That, my friends, is a reminder with too much customization.

Fortunately, the team at Stericycle Communication Solutions has figured out just the right amount of customization. Our patient communications are built on 4 pillars:

  1. Arrive: what needs to be done when the patient arrives
  2. Bring: what they need to bring for the appointment
  3. Prep: if there is any pre-appointment prep work that needs to be completed
  4. Do: any specific instructions for the patient’s arrival.

These best practices ensure that the patient feels the communication is specifically for them and that they have enough information to confidently and comfortably arrive at the office – without feeling bombarded with facts or instructions.

Want to learn more about Stericycle Communication Solutions’ patient engagement customizations? Download our FREE overview “Customizing Your Patient Engagement.”

The Communication Solutions Series of blog posts is sponsored by Stericycle Communication Solutions, a leading provider of high quality call center & telephone answering servicespatient access services and automated communication technology. Stericycle Communication Solutions combines a human touch with innovative technology to deliver best-in-class communication services.  Connect with Stericycle Communication Solutions on social media: @StericycleComms

More About Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on August 8, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 8/11 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Prashant Natarajan (@natarpr) on the topic of “More About Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare.” Be sure to also check out Prashant’s HIMSS best selling book Demystifying Big Data and Machine Learning for Healthcare to learn about his perspectives and insights into the topic.

Healthcare transformation requires us to continually look at new and better ways to manage insights – both within and outside the organization today. Increasingly, the ability to glean and operationalize new insights efficiently as a byproduct of an organization’s day-to-day operations is becoming vital to hospitals and health systems ability to survive and prosper. One of the long-standing challenges in healthcare informatics has been the ability to deal with the sheer variety and volume of disparate healthcare data and the increasing need to derive veracity and value out of it.

The potential for big data in healthcare – especially given the trends discussed earlier is as bright as any other industry. The benefits that big data analytics, AI, and machine learning can provide for healthier patients, happier providers, and cost-effective care are real. The future of precision medicine, population health management, clinical research, and financial performance will include an increased role for machine-analyzed insights, discoveries, and all-encompassing analytics.

This chat explores participants thoughts and feelings about the future of artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry and how healthcare organizations might leverage artificial intelligence to discover new business value, use cases, and knowledge.

Note: For purpose of this chat, “artificial intelligence” can mean predictive analytics, machine learning, big data analytics, natural language processing and contextually intelligent agents.

Reference Materials

Questions we will explore in this week’s #HITsm chat include:
T1: What words or short phrases convey your current thoughts & feelings about ‘artificial intelligence’ in the healthcare space? #HITsm #AI

T2: What are big & small steps healthcare can take to leverage big data & machine learning for population health & personalized care? #HITsm

T3: Which areas of healthcare might be most positively impacted by artificial intelligence? #HITsm #AI

T4: What are some areas within healthcare that will likely NOT be improved or replaced by artificial intelligence? #HITsm #AI

T5: What lessons learned from early days of ‘advanced analytics’ must not be forgotten as use of artificial intelligence expands? #HITsm #AI

Bonus: How is your organization preparing for the application and use of artificial intelligence in healthcare? #HITsm #AI

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
8/18 – Diversity in HIT
Hosted by Jeanmarie Loria (@JeanmarieLoria) from @advizehealth

8/25 – Consumer Data Liquidity – The Road So Far, The Road Ahead
Hosted by Greg Meyer (@Greg_Meyer93)

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always, let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

eClinicalWorks Settlement Hasn’t Led To Customer Defections, Yet

Posted on August 7, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Loyalty is a funny thing. You’d think that when a vendor let you down spectacularly, you wouldn’t do business with them anymore. But the truth is, when it comes to health IT it’s not that simple. In many cases, vendor-customer relationships are more like marriages than formal agreements. Even if things start to go south, customers have so much invested in their vendor relationship that backing out may not seem like a realistic possibility.

Yes, I’m pontificating here, but not without a point. What I’m responding to here is a recent KLAS survey which found that while many customers of the now-tarnished eClinicalWorks have lost confidence in the company, many are still on board for now.

As many readers will know, in May eCW settled a whistleblower suit against the company for $155 million. The suit, which was brought by the US Department of Justice, asserted that the vendor got certified for incentive payments by putting deceptive kludges in place.

After agreeing to pay a massive penalty to the feds and putting a “Coprrporate Integrity Agreement” in place, it’s little wonder that some customers don’t trust eCW anymore. But the reality of the situation is that they’re not exactly free to jump ship either.

The study, which was reported on in HIT Consultant, found that 66% of customers polled by KLAS said their perception of eCW had moderately or significantly worsened after the settlement. Meanwhile, 34% of current eCW customers plan to look elsewhere when they make their next health IT investment.

Another third of respondents said they felt stuck in their current eCW contract, though they would consider switching vendors when the contract expires or they have more resources to invest. Still, only 4% of KLAS respondents said they were leaving specifically because of the settlement.

Meanwhile, there’s apparently a subset of eCW customers who aren’t that worried about the settlement or its implications. One-third of respondents said that it had little impact on them, and some noted that eCW is probably just the first of many vendors whose meaningful use certification will be called into question.

The reality is that while eCW customers were a bit shaken by the settlement, it didn’t exactly come as a shock that the vendor was playing it close to the edge, with one-fifth noting that the settlement was “unsurprising.”

I would tend to side with the eCW customers who predict that this settlement is the tip of the iceberg, and that it’s likely to come out that other health IT vendors were gaming the certification process. The question is whether these settlements will merely inconvenience providers or lead to serious problems of their own. If the feds ever decide that providers should have known about faked certifications, the game will get a lot more complicated.

Engagement Cartoon – Fun Friday

Posted on August 4, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This week’s Fun Friday healthcare cartoon was shared by the Society for Participatory Medicine. If you don’t know about this organization, take a minute and go check out what they do and see how you can support them. You’ll see why they shared this cartoon.

Sadly, this is the experience of many patients with their doctors. The Society for Participatory Medicine has been working hard to change that mindset. We all need to support these efforts in our own circle of influence. It’s not about what our actions look like, but that we’re really engaged in a relationship with our patients. Doing so will have a powerful effect on everyone in healthcare.

Healthcare Blockchain Use Case

Posted on August 3, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

There’s been a lot of talk about using blockchain in healthcare. While I don’t think that it’s the end all be all solution that many make it out to be, I do think that healthcare could benefit in a lot of ways from blockchain.

David Chou recently shared this healthcare use case for blockchain which it looks like he got from Deloitte:

I’d be interested to hear blockchain experts thoughts on this use case. Is this reasonable? Could this be reasonably achieved with blockchain? Are there risks to implementing this use case?

We all know about the major challenges associated with interoperability in healthcare. Blockchain itself doesn’t solve a lot of these interoperability problems. It can’t because most of the interoperability problems in healthcare are business problems and not technology problems. However, I wonder if we can make data sharing in healthcare so simple that it would be embarrassing not to do it. Then, we might be on to something.

Other thoughts on blockchain in healthcare? I still have a lot to learn about this new technology.

Will ACOs Face Tough Antitrust Scrutiny?

Posted on August 2, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

For some reason, I’ve always been interested in antitrust regulation, not just in the healthcare industry but across the board.

To me, there’s something fascinating about how federal agencies define markets, figure out what constitutes an unfair level of market dominance and decide which deals are out of bounds. For someone who’s not a lawyer, perhaps that’s a strange sort of geeking out to do, but there you have it.

Obviously, given how complex industry relationships are, healthcare relationships are fraught with antitrust issues to ponder. Lately, I’ve begun thinking about how antitrust regulators will look at large ACOs. And I’ve concluded that ACOs will be on the radar of the FTC and U.S. Department of Justice very soon, if they aren’t already.

On their face, ACOs try to dominate markets, so there’s plenty of potential for them to tip the scales too far in their favor for regulators to ignore. Their business model involves both vertical and horizontal integration, either of which could be seen as giving participants too much power.

Please take the following as a guide from an amateur who follows antitrust issues. Again, IANAL, but my understanding is as follows:

  • Vertical integration in healthcare glues together related entities that serve each other directly, such as health plans, hospitals, physician groups and skilled nursing facilities.
  • Horizontal integration connects mutually interested service providers, including competitors such as rival hospitals.

Even without being a legal whiz, it’s easy to understand why either of these ACO models might lead to (what the feds would see as) a machine that squeezes out uninvolved parties. The fact that these providers may share a single EMR could makes matters worse, as it makes the case that the parties can hoard data which binds patients to their network.

Regardless, it just makes sense that if a health plan builds an ACO network, cherry picking what it sees as the best providers, it’s unlikely that excluded providers will enjoy the same reimbursement health plan partners get. The excluded parties just won’t have as much clout.

Yes, it’s already the case that bigger providers may get either higher reimbursement or higher patient volume from insurers, but ACO business models could intensify the problem.

Meanwhile, if a bunch of competing hospitals or physician practices in a market decide to work together, it seems pretty unlikely that others could enter the market, expand their business or develop new service lines that compete with the ACO. Eventually, many patients would be forced to work with ACO providers. Their health plan will only pay for this market-dominant conglomerate.

Of course, these issues are probably being kicked around in legal circles. I’m equally confident that the ACOs, which can afford high-ticket legal advice, have looked at these concerns as well. But to my knowledge these questions aren’t popping up in the trade press, which suggests to me that they’re not a hot topic in non-legal circles.

Please note that I’m not taking a position here on whether antitrust regulation is fair or appropriate here. I’m just pointing out that if you’re part of an ACO, you may be more vulnerable to antitrust suits than you thought. Any entity which has the power to crush competition and set prices is a potential target.

Inching Toward Health IT Interoperability – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on August 1, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 8/4 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Alan Portela (@AlanWPortela) from Airstrip on the topic of “Inching Toward Health IT Interoperability.”

To some it may seem as though ‘interoperability’ is a stale health IT buzzword, but nothing could be further from the truth. Why? Because interoperability still isn’t a reality.

Data is digital, but not readily available; data exists in EHRs, but isn’t aggregated and shared in a way that makes sense for clinicians. In addition, precision medicine relies upon the ability to collect real time data from medical devices at the moment of care – physiologic phenotypes, genomic data, and the like. Precision medicine fundamentally depends on data to make unique diagnosis/care plans for individuals or populations. That cannot happen easily or effectively without interoperability.

Health IT could play a significant role in addressing more serious health issues, but a lack of interoperability and access holds us back. If we want precision medicine, then we need to recognize that interoperability is a must.

Questions we will explore in this week’s #HITsm chat include:
T1: Where have you seen the most success in health IT interoperability? #HITsm

T2: What have been your largest barriers to health IT interoperability? #HITsm

T3: What is vital to making health IT interoperability a reality? #HITsm

T4: Which industry stakeholder has the biggest responsibility to push health IT interoperability forward? #HITsm

T5: How should governing bodies – national and/or industry specific – support health IT interoperability? #HITsm

Bonus: How can we, as health IT leaders and innovators, drive the change the industry needs? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
8/11 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

8/18 – Diversity in HIT
Hosted by Jeanmarie Loria (@JeanmarieLoria) from @advizehealth

8/25 – Consumer Data Liquidity – The Road So Far, The Road Ahead
Hosted by Greg Meyer (@Greg_Meyer93)

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always, let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.