In Healthcare, Digital Identity is More Important than Ever
Imprivata is proud to be an Identity Management Champion for the first annual Identity Management Day, recognized on April 13, 2021. This day of awareness is designed to educate business leaders, IT decision makers, and the general public about the importance of managing and securing digital identities. Explore additional resources and learn more at https://www.idsalliance.org/identity-management-day-overview/.
Expect the unexpected. That seems like the theme for the past year. The pandemic exposed hidden vulnerabilities in our daily routines and the systems upon which we rely. Particularly in the healthcare industry, success in defending points of vulnerability against unpredictable change is crucial.
Digital identity is the foundation of a modern healthcare IT system, and though the benefits of cloud-based services and digital workflows are incredibly important, increased reliance on digital identity comes with increased vulnerability to identity theft, financial damage, and data loss. Digital identity management is key to protecting medical information, ensuring proper access, and optimizing efficiency – all invaluable pillars of an increasingly complex healthcare system, and even more so in the face of an unprecedented health crisis.
In a healthcare organization, “identity” encompasses all constituents in the ecosystem, from patients and practitioners, to external vendors and even non-human entities such as medical devices. These ecosystems demand highly tailored Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions to fit their needs and defend their points of vulnerability. Healthcare organizations can position themselves for success by implementing a solid digital identity framework that allows them to reap the following benefits.
Protection Against Attacks
Healthcare systems are frequent targets of cyberattacks, and this trend dramatically spiked during the pandemic. Hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations are seen as particularly vulnerable targets during normal times, and even more so under the strain caused by COVID-19, as attackers have taken advantage of the circumstances. Cyberattacks on U.S. healthcare organizations cost hundreds of millions of dollars in 2020, hurting finances, day-to-day hospital operations, patient care, and further burdening staff. As these targeted efforts continue, it’s never been more crucial to have a solid digital healthcare framework in place in order to protect confidential information, preserve resources, and prevent workflow disruptions.
Ensuring the Right Access at the Right Times
The roles of medical staff are constantly in flux. A hospital employee’s morning role may require half the access they need for a different role that same evening. One doctor may require access to patient information at a number of endpoints in a given day, often at completely different facilities. A good digital identity framework will allow for this crucial fluidity and ensure access is both secure and dependable. With the ever-increasing number of shared devices and apps constantly in use in healthcare organizations, their workflows can’t function without having a strong, unified framework in place.
Streamlined Compliance and Reporting
One of the differentiating complexities of the healthcare industry is its suite of regulations. Healthcare organizations are subject to unique compliance requirements, including HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which protects sensitive patient health information; electronic prescriptions for controlled substances (EPCS), which must meet the Drug Enforcement Administration’s requirements; and countless others. These regulations are supplementary to the non-healthcare-specific standards that are in place to protect data and privacy. By identifying and meeting compliance and reporting standards, a good digital identity framework can keep costs low and avoid adding processes that make it difficult for providers to deliver care.
Enhanced Patient Care
Above all, without secure and efficient systems in place, patients cannot receive the care they need. In a life or death scenario, every second counts – and if a patient cannot be properly identified, they cannot be treated safely. If a system is slowed down by cumbersome technology and users can’t instantly access the information they need, vital medical care will not be delivered. A solid digital identity framework with features like touchless biometric patient identification improves patient safety and satisfaction while also reducing medical errors.
The healthcare industry has evolved and learned countless lessons in the past year, and 2020 showed that it’s more apparent than ever how healthcare’s uniquely complex ecosystems touch each of us. By managing digital identity effectively, healthcare organizations are able to protect each member of these ecosystems in the face of constant, often unpredictable change and a rapidly evolving healthcare technology landscape. Without a secure, efficient digital identity management framework, the modern healthcare system could not serve its most pertinent purpose: delivering quality care.