Clinicians on the move: Is there more to the healthcare exodus than COVID-19?

The inefficiencies of manual identity governance have plagued clinicians for years. It’s time to consolidate and automate – across your entire tech stack. Here are 10 reasons why.

With over 735,000 deaths officially recorded to date, COVID-19 recently exceeded the death toll of the 1918 influenza outbreak to earn the dismal distinction of being the most devasting public health event in U.S. history.

One in five Americans have lost a family member, friend, colleague, or other relation. And since August 1, 2020, more than 3,202,000 people have swamped the nation’s hospitals seeking life-saving treatment, according to a CDC estimate.

An unprecedented health emergency tests the limits of a long-stressed industry

The 20 months following the country’s first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus have proven exceedingly difficult for a notoriously short-staffed and over-worked healthcare system. Especially given that most public health agencies and other governmental entities, were woefully unprepared for an event of this magnitude.

In time, we’ll likely forget the unfortunate scramble to provide even the most basic personal protective equipment (PPE) to clinicians and staff rushing to form a first line of defense against a wave of infection that crossed oceans and continents at frightening speed.

But we won’t forget the legions of dedicated doctors, nurses, and specialists that continue to save thousands of lives and inspire us by their dedication and personal sacrifice in the face of conditions perhaps best described as war-like.

Yet even the most determined of us have limits. Additional complexities, including an increasingly remote workforce, have exacerbated these conditions – making it even more difficult for clinical staff and HDOs to safeguard data, protect privacy, and deliver the best possible outcomes.

And endless months of marathon shifts saw clinicians endure severe physical hardships and intense emotional trauma, leaving many exhausted, overwhelmed, burned out, and increasingly frustrated by their inability to consistently provide quality patient care.

Clinician burnout: Record departures exacerbate critical staffing shortages

So unfortunately, historically high numbers of healthcare professionals, especially nurses, are resigning their positions to retire early or find less stressful or higher paying opportunities. And others are engaging in labor disputes or leaving the field altogether – even more bad news for an industry already crippled by labor shortages.

Citing a new poll of 1,000 U.S. healthcare workers, Morning Consult estimates that, to date, roughly 18% of healthcare workers have resigned their positions throughout the course of the pandemic.

Earlier this month, National Public Radio spoke with Matthew Crecilius, a traveling contract nurse who recently decided to abandon his career. Describing the chaos witnessed at a New York City hospital last year, he recalled, “It was like watching a bomb go off in slow motion… That plays out again and again, day by day, at many hospitals. And in my opinion, I think it's getting worse,” said Crecilius, who worked for several HDOs during the COVID crisis.

A July 2020 report by the International Journal of Nursing Studies examined the collective results of 20 studies on the adverse effects of nurse burnout. Describing the phenomenon as “an occupational hazard affecting nurses, patients, organizations, and society at large,” the report concluded that the main “organizational-related outcomes associated with nurse burnout” include:

  • Reduced patient safety and quality of care
  • Decreased organizational commitment and productivity
  • Diminished patient satisfaction

And in a new POLITICO article, Mark Wietecha, CEO of the Children’s Hospital Association, told reporters, “You can do anything for a week, but not when it looks like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. No one thought we’d still be in this place in October of 2021.”

Yet here we are, warily waiting for news of the delta-plus variant that recently emerged in the U.K. – amid hopeful expectations from some that COVID-19 will soon become endemic, less transmissible, and result in far fewer hospitalizations and deaths.

Beyond COVID: Automating IGA to ease clinician workloads, save time and money, and more

COVID pressures aside, it’s time to ask what we can do now to improve the basic working conditions of our country’s health workers. Because pandemic-related stressors are not the only reason for the outsized workload pressures on clinicians – or the severity of staffing shortages. In an age of digital transformation, the logical step is to consolidate, automate, and streamline identity governance and administration (IGA) capabilities.

According to Computer Weekly, “Modernizing identity governance and administration (IGA) is essential for organizations to manage identities effectively and ensure they remain competitive, compliant, and secure. Digital identities are at the heart of digital transformation, information security and privacy. Therefore, if organizations have not done so already, no time should be wasted in reviewing their IGA capability, which is at the heart of identity and access management (IAM).”

Far too many HDOs still wrestle with outdated, unsecured, decentralized approaches – causing front-line healthcare workers to waste time juggling multiple passwords and usernames to gain access to EHRs and other critical systems, applications, and devices. And with clinical staff (many temporary and remote) in a constant state of flux, HR staff, IT admins, and security teams also struggle with inefficient and costly manual processes.

Healthcare organizations have also seen a proliferation of mobile (iOS and Android) devices, further complicating efforts to effectively manage and secure systems and applications, digital identities and user activities – as well as critical patient health information (PHI).

If this sounds like your organization, it’s well past time to consolidate and automate your manual IGA processes. Here are some of the most important reasons why your HDO can’t afford not to.

10 reasons why you need to consolidate and automate your identity governance tech stack

Manually intensive and error-prone identity management systems and practices squander valuable time and IT resources and open the door to cyber attackers and data thieves. An automated identity governance solution – purpose-built for healthcare – can help you reduce IT cost and complexity, strengthen security, and mitigate risk.

The benefits are many. Here are just a few:

  1. Access more applications from more devices – anywhere. Federate access services across all your systems, applications, devices, and locations – to provide your workforce with fast, secure, and time-saving access to critical resources
  2. Go password-less across your applications and devices with single sign-on processes and technologies for improved clinician and patient experiences.
  3. Reduce IT costs and save time by streamlining processes and workflows and putting an end to the burdensome, slow, and error-prone manual administration of user accounts – for both clinical and non-clinical applications and systems.
  4. Provide day-one, role-based access to only the systems and applications your users need. Grant rapid access to clinical and non-clinical applications as roles change and efficiently terminate inactive user access.
  5. Speed role-based onboarding for temporary clinicians so they can immediately access the systems and applications they need for patient care – all protected by multi-factor authentication (MFA) for secure remote access.
  6. Help clinicians be more productive by avoiding system-access frustrations, enabling them to spend more time on patient care. Minimize password reset issues and free-up help-desk resources with self-service password reset and application request portals.
  7. Always know who’s accessing what, whether they have the right access – or are remote, on-site, or on the front line. Improve compliance with internal policies and government regulations with comprehensive analysis, reporting, and auditing.
  8. Get a holistic view of security vulnerabilities by proactively analyzing risk, identifying mismatched entitlements, eliminating orphaned accounts, and preventing PHI theft. Provide greater and more granular controls for compliance with security policies and regulatory guidelines.
  9. Automate enforcement of role policies through certification and remediation workflows. Generate fast, straightforward responses to internal and external audit requests – which can often require multiple days or weeks of IT resource time.
  10. And don’t go it alone. Digital transformation projects can be daunting. But Imprivata experts are ready to share what we’re learned over decades of IGA implementations. Together with our partner VMware, we’ll help you develop and implement a solution that’s purpose-built to meet the demands of your HDO environment.

It’s time your HDO enjoyed the benefits of automated identity governance – including password-free mobile device access – from Imprivata and VMware

Empower your team to deliver better patient care, reduce IT costs, and establish better security policies by consolidating and automating identity management with the Imprivata Identity Governance® end-to-end solution.

And free your organization entirely from having to type passwords on mobile devices by combining Imprivata Ground Control®, Imprivata OneSign®, and VMware Workspace ONE™. This new integration unlocks the full power of both company offerings with the tap of a badge – to give clinicians highly secure, password-free access to any app from their mobile devices.

By automating identity management, you’ll save valuable time, reduce IT costs, increase data security – and enable your clinicians to renew focus on patient care. So, whether you need desktop (Imprivata OneSign), virtual (Imprivata Virtual Desktop Access), or mobile solutions (Imprivata GroundControl for iOS and Imprivata Mobile Device Access for Android), Imprivata and VMware have the right solution for you.