Observations from the 2009 Cerner Health Conference

I just left the annual Cerner Health Conference in Kansas City, where clinical and technical users of Cerner software gather to share ideas, best practices and technology solutions that are molding the future of healthcare.

As is the case year after year, I am truly amazed at Cerner’s representation of the worldwide market. There were representatives from healthcare facilities from around the globe - Australia, Dubai, South America, Canada - all here to discuss their Cerner healthcare IT systems and share their experiences with new and innovative healthcare solutions.

As expected, discussions surrounding the migration to electronic medical records and the HITECH Act swirled around both the sessions and the hallways consistently, but one of the surprising topics that dominated the conversations I had was access management. Access management is a significant pain point for hospitals and after speaking with dozens of organizations at the event, it is clear that healthcare IT executives are eager for fast, convenient and secure access to critical data. It’s notable that with compliance challenges and numerous, high-profile patient privacy violations making front page news, healthcare organizations are still looking for ways to properly protect patient information while providing seamless access to heterogeneous technology environments.

I did have the opportunity to meet with end users at organizations that have committed to providing its clinicians with fast and secure application access to data. These organizations (including Advocate Health Care, BJC Healthcare, Baycare and Albert Einstein Medical) all stressed that the faster the provider can access patient information, the more positive the health outcome is for the patient. Each respective organization described similar challenges within their unique environments which single sign-on and strong authentication solutions are addressing to provide secure access to critical applications, while improving user productivity.

The healthcare industry is certainly experiencing some exciting changes and opportunities, which will continue as we look to turn the page to 2010. I’d be interested in hearing about the solutions and initiatives your organization is looking to deploy to help secure application access.