Dark Reading: When Bad IAM Kills

By:  Ericka Chickowski

How healthcare's urgent need for single sign on could drive better identity and access management practices across all industries

In healthcare organizations, the log-in processes that give emergency care physicians access to critical information can be so unwieldy they can potentially lead to “death by clicking,” where precious moments are lost due to inefficient IAM and patients die as a result. While this is a case specific to healthcare, no matter what vertical you’re in bad IAM leads to all sorts of detrimental effects on the business, ones that technology like single sign on (SSO) and good IAM practices can drastically reduce, IT experts say.  "The technology to simplify access really plays a role in saving you maybe five seconds up to three minutes and in healthcare that's the difference between someone surviving or dying right there," says Frank Villavicencio, executive vice president for Identropy. "In many organizations, single sign on is really a convenience element. But in situations like this, single sign on is tested in a life or death situation."

Similarly, a complicated sign in process could mean the difference between paralysis or full recovery when a stroke patient hits the ER doors, says Dr. Sean Kelly, an emergency physician for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. In these cases, which Kelly says he sees once or twice a shift, a doctor has to decide quickly about what kinds of medicine to give. Many of the options have a lot of benefits but could pose significant risk of things like bleeding in the brain if the patient has other pre-existing conditions. What's more, the patient is likely to be confused or unable to talk, so there's no way for the doctor to find out from them if they have an allergy or are already on blood thinners.