In the first two installments of this multi-part series about Digital Identity and Access Management (IAM) in healthcare, we examined the critical importance of IAM in bolstering IT security, enhancing data protection, and assuring compliance – all of which must be delivered while supporting and enhancing current and future clinical workflows of our providers.
(Part III in a multi-part post examining IAM in healthcare)
In examining why IAM is so important to healthcare, we also took a close look at the four “planes” of the modern healthcare ecosystem – the users, their operational locations, edge devices being used to access clinical networks, and the apps and services they’re using to deliver patient care – to understand the growing workflow and security challenges within today’s digital healthcare world.
(Gus Malezis, President and Chief Executive Officer, Imprivata)
As we come to appreciate the pivotal role that IAM and digital identity will play in this increasingly complex environment, the essential value of trusted identities becomes clearer – as does the need for healthcare to have the right infrastructure in place to support and manage those identities. This post examines those new infrastructure requirements – beginning with the need for efficient and transparent access to cloud applications.
Digital transformation in healthcare
Healthcare organizations are becoming modern sophisticated digital enterprises with a care delivery ecosystem that extends beyond the four walls of the hospital. In this new ecosystem, where providers and employees across the delivery organization access information from inside and outside the hospital, organizations must establish trusted digital identities across a complex network of people, technology and information.
But it doesn’t stop there – healthcare organizations also need enhanced capabilities that improve productivity and address critical identity and access management challenges while supporting and ideally optimizing and enhancing workflows for their clinical and enterprise users.
And these are only a few of the unique challenges that healthcare organizations face as the industry evolves to become more distributed and remote. The proliferation of cloud applications is helping this increasingly decentralized workforce access the information they need to provide patient care, but it is also contributing to the erosion of the once well-defined network perimeter.
To support the adoption of much-needed cloud technology without disrupting user experience or the delivery of patient care, healthcare organizations need technology solutions that deliver secure, frictionless access to all applications. These solutions must be purpose-built to enable anytime, anywhere access to Web and on-premises applications to support healthcare’s hybrid environments.
High trust digital identities
In our new widely dispersed and diverse healthcare delivery environment, the number of devices, logins, and channels that providers use continues to grow rapidly in quantity and diversity. As a result, clinicians often create widely disparate digital identities, many of which may be simple email addresses or user IDs, and all of which need to be managed, tracked and – naturally for the user/provider – need to be committed to memory so they can be available and be applied, quickly, when needed. This process of creating, remembering and keeping secure a large complement of user IDs and passwords introduces a great deal of complexity. What’s more, that is just the beginning: these IDs are not verified or validated, and therefore are not of high trust. To solve this problem, more healthcare organizations are turning to IAM to validate the identity, facilitate access, and protect against cyberattacks.
What do these solutions look like? Many products that exist today are built to address individual challenges, but today’s digital world requires an end-to-end system that is capable of authenticating, managing, and monitoring identities across the board. To survive in the future, healthcare organizations will need to move beyond password management and basic single-sign on (SSO) solutions and deploy more robust, comprehensive systems that can ensure that the right people have access to the right things at the right time.
When done right, an IAM system should enable fast and secure access to on-premises and cloud applications, regardless of where providers are located, or what device they are using to access systems. From private or shared workstations, to mobile devices and notebooks – to be effective, IAM solutions must now support every person and device that exists in healthcare’s hybrid environment. Unfortunately, that is simply not the norm for most solutions available in today’s market.
Healthcare organizations also need an agile IAM solution that can easily integrate with other systems and tools, including EHRs and on-premises clinical applications. Modern solutions, for example, integrate with an array of innovative, convenient, and secure multi-factor authentication modalities, including push tokens, fingerprint biometrics, and hands-free authentication, which also comply with DEA regulations for electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS).
Adaptable technology – to all locations
Many healthcare organizations are just beginning their transition to the cloud. Regardless of where they are on the digital transformation journey, they all still have some systems on-premises – that’s just the nature of healthcare – so they need more adaptable technology that can work in any environment. This technology must support the adoption of cloud technology without disrupting user experience or the delivery of patient care.
The industry is under enormous pressure to innovate – but with the unique goal of streamlining physicians’ work, improving patient outcomes and lowering costs. Digital technologies have huge potential to help achieve these goals and make a positive impact, but security remains a significant battle. A modern IAM solution can alleviate the challenge of balancing security and convenience by not only establishing trust across networks – people, technology, and information – but then sustaining and confirming that trust throughout the patient care lifecycle.
For more information, browse the infographic.
Gus Malezis is President and Chief Executive Officer of Imprivata.