What purple, Pantone’s 2018 color of the year, means to us at Protenus

Last week, Pantone announced that a vivid shade of purple will be its color of the year for 2018. Experts at the Pantone Color Institute picked the hue because it “communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.”

This news made perfect sense to the team at Protenus. In fact, Protenus in latin means “onwards” or “upwards,” and we chose it as our name — and purple as our color — because our goal of leveraging advanced technologies to better secure patient data can only be accomplished with originality, creativity, and not a small amount of vision.

Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, said one of the reasons the color was chosen this year was because, “It’s also the most complex of all colors,” she said, “because it takes two shades that are seemingly diametrically opposed — blue and red — and brings them together to create something new.”

She added: “It’s a reflection of what’s needed in the world today.”

When we founded our company in 2014, we viscerally felt that type of diametric opposition inside the healthcare industry. That year, before the Protenus platform became the go-to solution for protecting patient data, my co-founder and I attended two back-to-back industry events in Washington, DC. First, we attended the Health Datapalooza conference where the message was clear: Open up the data. The more we share health data, the more we’ll be able to innovate and create new solutions and solve many of healthcare’s most pressing challenges.

Just a few days later, we attended the Health Privacy Summit, where the message was in stark contrast: Lock down the data. The more people who can access health data, the more likely it is to be abused, stolen, or misused.

As opposed as these two messages are, we knew them both to be true. Healthcare organizations have an incredible burden to ensure safe and secure sharing of health data, for the explicit purpose of improving patient care, conducting research, and enabling the sort of innovation that impacts lives.

We saw the diametric opposition in the industry’s branding choices, too.

Healthcare organizations tend to choose blue colors for their logos and themes (of the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Hospital Rankings, sixteen out of 20 choose blue, including Johns Hopkins Hospital, Duke University Hospital, UCLA Medical Center, and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center). Cybersecurity organizations, on the other hand, often pick red colors (think Raytheon, FireEye, RSA, Rapid7).

Just browse the Cybersecurity 500 list, and you’ll notice that Protenus is one of the few purple-themed cybersecurity companies in healthcare. This was an intentional choice on our part because Protenus was built to address the two conflicting needs of healthcare data: enabling the sharing of data that’s needed for top-notch medical care and life-saving innovations, while securing access to some of the world’s most sensitive information.

At Protenus, we took on those opposed goals with a solemn understanding of their complexities, and immediately saw the industry needed a novel approach. As health systems grow and become more interconnected, the number of individuals accessing patient data is increasing exponentially, with billions of accesses to health data are taking place every single day. We saw, right away, that leveraging artificial intelligence is the only way healthcare privacy and security leaders — the individuals charged with protecting patient data — can ensure that all accesses are appropriate and job-related.

We built Protenus with analytics that monitor and audit every access inside a hospital, to proactively identify misuse or abuse of patient data, at an unprecedented scale. We did so because we knew advanced technologies could make a meaningful impact on this emerging challenge, clearing the way for the breakthroughs made possible by the emergence of electronic health data.

We know, and prove every day, that defending health data need not be in conflict with using that very same data to improve the lives of patients everywhere. We chose purple to communicate this vision to the world, and help healthcare organizations point their health data security postures towards the future.