Seamless onboarding for travel nurses: Providing day one access without risks or password sharing

Don't let the demand for travel nurses put patient safety at risk. Discover how your organization can ensure seamless onboarding with day-one access, all without compromising security.

The demand for travel nurses has surged in recent years, driven by the ever-changing healthcare landscape and the need for specialized expertise. However, onboarding these healthcare professionals comes with unique challenges. The crucial role nurses play in patient care requires access to sensitive patient information, medications, and treatment plans. Ideally, you want to provide day-one access to critical systems and information while mitigating risks. However, a concerning practice has been on the rise in healthcare settings: nurses sharing their access to healthcare systems and patient records with colleagues. In addition to the slow and manual process in getting appropriate access to the applications for these nurses.

Clinicians take these shortcuts with the best of intentions, but doing so carries significant risks and consequences that deserve our attention. Let’s take a closer look at the risks of credential sharing and rushed onboarding, and strategies that ensure a seamless onboarding process without compromising security or encouraging poor password hygiene.

The hidden dangers of nurses sharing passwords and access

The privacy predicament

One of the most pressing concerns when nurses share credentials is the violation of patient privacy. Every individual has the right for their personal health information to remain confidential. When multiple nurses use the same login credentials, it becomes nearly impossible to track who accessed what information. This can lead to unauthorized access and breaches of patient confidentiality, a grave violation of trust that can have lasting consequences.

The accountability abyss

Accountability is a cornerstone of healthcare. When multiple nurses share access, it becomes challenging to pinpoint who was responsible for actions taken within the system. This lack of accountability can hinder investigations into medical errors, patient record inconsistencies, and potential cases of misconduct. The ability to trace actions back to a specific individual is vital to quality care and patient safety.

The regulatory rumble

The healthcare industry is subject to stringent regulations designed to protect patient data and ensure the highest standards of care. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States is a prime example. Password sharing among nurses can easily lead to legal and regulatory non-compliance. Violating these regulations can result in severe penalties, including hefty fines and legal actions against both individuals and healthcare organizations.

The data dilemma

Patient care relies heavily on accurate and up-to-date information. When nurses share access to patient records, medication lists, and treatment plans, data inconsistencies can arise. Multiple individuals accessing and updating information without proper coordination can lead to errors that compromise patient care decisions and safety.

The security slip

Nurses sharing access credentials may inadvertently reveal sensitive information, making it easier for unauthorized individuals to infiltrate healthcare systems. Such security breaches can result in data theft, identity theft, and harm, not only to patients but also to the reputation of healthcare facilities.

The risks of rushed onboarding

Most organizations need more nursing help. And they needed it yesterday. Therefore, they want to onboard nurses as quickly as possible. But rushing the onboarding process without taking the right precautions leads to serious risks.

Security vulnerabilities

Rushed onboarding can inadvertently expose healthcare organizations to security vulnerabilities. Providing travel nurses with immediate access without the proper authentication and authorization protocols can open the door to data breaches that compromise patient privacy.

Compliance concerns

Healthcare facilities are bound by stringent regulations, such as HIPAA and GDPR. Failure to comply with regulations during onboarding, or creating security vulnerabilities through a rushed process, can result in substantial fines and legal consequences. Travel nurses must be educated about these regulations and the importance of adhering to them from day one.

Data integrity

Preserving the accuracy and integrity of patient data is paramount. Rushed onboarding can lead to errors or incomplete documentation, which can adversely affect care decisions and the overall quality of healthcare services.

The recipe for seamless onboarding

To navigate these challenges while providing travel nurses with day-one access, healthcare organizations should adopt a comprehensive onboarding strategy that includes the following capabilities.

Role-based access control

Implementing role-based access control (RBAC) provides nurses access to the specific systems and information they need for their roles — no more and no less. This specificity minimizes the risk of unauthorized access by ensuring employees can only access sensitive data if they need it to effectively perform their job duties. RBAC is especially helpful for organizations with a large volume of third parties and contractors, which can make it difficult to closely monitor network access.

Multifactor factor authentication

Enforcing multifactor authentication (MFA) for access to critical systems adds an additional layer of security, ensuring only authorized individuals can log in, even if their credentials are compromised.

Passwordless onboarding

Relying on IT admins or managers to provide first-time passwords to employees, traveling nurses, or temporary workers, has proven to be both inefficient and a security risk. Most organizations are not prepared to collect, maintain, and secure sensitive data for non-employees.

But the right identity governance solution can enable passwordless onboarding that can securely onboard new users by email. With Imprivata, for example, a unique code is created and sent to the associated email ID. When users click on the link, the server triggers an action to verify if the code is valid. Users can then set their Active Directory (AD) password based on the organization's password rules. This functionality also works for users who have forgotten their password and need to reset it inside or outside the domain.

Regular auditing and monitoring

Regular auditing and monitoring of system access and data usage can be leveraged to detect and prevent unauthorized activities. Many recent HIPPA breaches are due to users having too much access. But with a robust identity governance solution, organizations can manage employee access, provisioning, and de-provisioning in ways that reduce the risk of data breaches resulting from the misuse or compromise of privileged credentials and entitlements. Tracking and monitoring user access allows organizations to identify users who increase security risks by having forms of access that might not be necessary to perform their jobs.

The prescription for change

The risks associated with nurses sharing credentials are substantial and should not be underestimated. Patient privacy, accountability, legal compliance, data accuracy, and security all hang in the balance. By implementing secure access control measures and promoting a culture of responsibility and respect for patient privacy, healthcare organizations can protect both patients and their own reputation in the increasingly digital healthcare landscape.

Seamlessly and securely onboarding travel nurses while providing day-one access is achievable with careful planning, the strong security measures, and a robust identity governance solution. With the right tools and planning, healthcare organizations can easily integrate travel nurses into their teams while continuing to safeguard patient information and support the highest standards of care.

With these strategies in place, travel nurses can confidently contribute their expertise from day one, ensuring continuity and quality of care for patients. And you can be confident in the security of your organization.

Check out our identity governance solution to discover how Imprivata role-based access can help your organization.