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Morning Brew December 28, 2022

Healthcare Brew


Happy Wednesday! We’re raising our champagne glasses to you. In only two months (ish), we covered staffing shortages, digital health trends, and a myriad of technologies changing the healthcare paradigm—and you’ve greeted our coverage with such enthusiasm. Thank you! Expect all this and more in 2023. Cheers!

In today’s edition:


Jealousy list

Balancing act

—Michael Schroeder, Maia Anderson, Amanda Eisenberg


Ransomware vs. healthcare

A graphic of a hacked computer mainframe with the words "ransomware" in red and an image of a white-hooded figure. Japatino/Getty Images

Ransomware attacks are big business for cyberthieves, and they’re looking to make a bundle off hospitals.

Health systems are an appealing target for cyber attackers because they store troves of sensitive data within IT systems that rely on wireless technology—leaving hospitals vulnerable to hacks, according to the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

In short, there are ample ways for a cyberthief to sneakily introduce malware—or malicious software that’s installed to gain unauthorized access to a hospital’s IT system.

Malware allows attackers to gain access to data and encrypt it, which makes reading a medical record, for example, impossible. The cyberthieves then hit hospitals with a ransom demand—typically to be paid in cryptocurrency because digital asset trading is more difficult to track—to reverse the damage and avoid affecting patient care.

The type of attack typically “affects not only the encrypted databases and devices, but also the operations and business revenues of healthcare organizations,” according to a report from cybersecurity firm Sophos. It found that the number of ransomware attacks against healthcare organizations doubled in a single year, and that two-thirds were hit just last year. (Apparently, even fictitious hospitals aren’t immune.)

Jon Moore, chief risk officer and head of consulting services for Nashville-based healthcare cybersecurity firm Clearwater, told Healthcare Brew that the damages are difficult to pinpoint but are likely in the billions.

“Of all the various types of cyber attacks which we are faced with—which would include data theft, business email compromises,” added John Riggi, national advisor for cybersecurity and risk at the American Hospital Association, “the ransomware attacks are the ones we are most concerned with because they have the potential to disrupt and delay healthcare delivery and potentially risk patient safety.”—MS



Certified nursing news


What nurses need more than ever is connection. Connection with community and connection to the information that matters most. And now two companies are coming together to offer just that.

Yep, connectRN, the leading nurse community and platform for nurses, has partnered with The Nursing Beat to give nurses the additional resources they need to thrive in and out of work. The Nursing Beat is on a mission to keep nurses and healthcare pros up to speed on industry news and changes in a clear, uncomplicated way, which is no easy feat.

Plus, The Nursing Beat is a community created *by nurses*, so they understand the highs and lows of the job and are well positioned to help create a better healthcare ecosystem and patient experience.

Don’t miss this opportunity. Learn more today.


Jealousy, jealousy

A bullseye with darts all around it and sticky notes listing the titles of newspaper headlines Francis Scialabba

Co-comparison is killing us slowly. Our venerable colleagues have produced great work this year, and some standouts have made us here at Healthcare Brew envious we didn’t write them ourselves. We hope you read these stories—and that our pieces make another publication’s list in 2023 (we’re looking at you, Bloomberg).

Centene showers politicians with millions as it courts contracts and settles overbilling allegations by Samantha Young, Andy Miller, and Rebecca Grapevine (Kaiser Health News)

Somehow KHN made Medicaid overbilling sound sexy. This deep dive into Centene, “the nation’s largest private managed-care provider for Medicaid,” shows how the company has maintained good relationships with politicians as it looked to keep its market share and settle overbilling allegations. I love how the story details the hold political donations have on our healthcare system.—AE

‘It was stolen from me’: Black doctors are forced out of training programs at far higher rates than white residents by Usha Lee McFarling (Stat)

There’s a lot of talk about boosting the number of Black students enrolling in medical schools, but there’s not so much discussion around why Black physicians disproportionately do not complete residency—i.e., they’re “constructively discharged,” per the Texas Workforce Commission, because their workplaces are so hostile toward them. I love the reporter’s storytelling ability and their use of sharp, poignant quotes from Black doctors regarding their residency experiences.—MA

Endgame: How the visionary hospice movement became a for-profit hustle by Ava Kofman (ProPublica)

ProPublica’s unblinking, compassionate look at an industry that uncomfortably reminds us of our own mortality couldn’t have come at a more poignant time. The story shows how rampant fraud and malpractice have upended a “crusade to provide death with dignity.” But what truly makes this piece is how the reporter handled such a difficult, heavy lift with so much grace and flourish.—MS



Goal posts

Three young people sit around a table giggling while drinking coffee or tea. Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

Healthcare leaders are putting the pedal to the metal to pursue professional and personal goals—making up for nearly three years of upheaval wrought by the pandemic.

At least, that’s the picture that emerged out of the responses from nearly a dozen healthcare executives who responded to a recent Healthcare Brew email survey.

Somi Javaid, founder and CMO of women’s healthcare provider HerMD, aspires to expand access to women’s healthcare—which dovetails with growing investor interest in women’s health technology. Currently offering in-person services in three states, HerMD plans to open more in-person locations in Indiana and New Jersey in 2023 to expand its reach across the country.

“My dream is to change women’s healthcare forever. To continue to build HerMD centers around the country in 2023, ensuring all women have access to exceptional healthcare,” Javaid told Healthcare Brew via email.

Some pharmacy chains like Walgreens and Rite Aid have been broadening the range of healthcare services. Already, execs are rethinking the role of a pharmacist and trying to improve the workloads of their employees.

“We are focused on continuing to invest in technology to support our pharmacists, so they can continue to expand their role in the health of our communities,” Karen Staniforth, chief pharmacy officer at Rite Aid, told Healthcare Brew in an email.

Respondents to our year-end survey also spoke about balancing professional and personal ambitions.

“Personally, I’m looking forward to traveling and exploring the world,” added Staniforth.

Sometimes professional and personal hopes for the future are one and the same, like the need for human connection.

“Every Wednesday I see patients at one [of] our clinics in Chinatown, and because of masks I haven’t seen their faces—or they mine—in over two years,” said Mitch Katz, president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “While it’s unclear when we’ll begin to relax mask-wearing, I would love to see my patients’ faces again.”—MS



We’re better together. Nurses team up with healthcare providers to provide the best care, and connectRN is teaming up with The Nursing Beat to offer nurses and allied professionals the community, resources, and direction they need with daily short-form content. Navigating the healthcare industry is a lot of work—let this team help. Join the community here.


A laptop tracking vital signs is placed on rolling medical equipment. Francis Scialabba

Today’s top healthcare reads.

Stat: Women over the age of 65 may not need Pap tests, but many are still keeping up with the exam. (the New York Times)

Quote: “[Young people are] being overly injected and proud of it.”—Michael Prager, a leading cosmetic doctor in the UK, on people under 30 “overdoing” Botox and fillers (The Guardian)

Read: A Montana addiction clinic that plans to offer four-figure incentives to participants has been accused of violating the federal anti-kickback law. (Kaiser Health News)


  • Stat created a video to show how fentanyl test strips work.
  • A Morning Consult analysis found that the overturning of Roe v. Wade was the biggest healthcare issue for voters in 2022.
  • While the majority of adults believe children should be vaccinated for measles, mumps, and rubella to attend public school, the percentage has dropped to 71% (down from 82% in October 2019).
  • Telehealth may help the industry resolve some staffing shortages.


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Written by Michael Schroeder , Maia Anderson, and Amanda Eisenberg

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Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.