It’s easy to understand why this is the case. Protected Health Information (PHI) is highly-sensitive data. Patients could suffer from fraud and extortion attempts if it gets into the wrong hands. On top of that, we must remember that health information is extremely private by nature. Healthcare professionals have an ethical duty to treat this data with confidentiality and respect. But it’s not always easy to do.
According to reports, the healthcare sector suffered 337 breaches in the first half of 2022 alone. This demonstrates that more must be done to protect patient health information. This is where an identity and access management (IAM) solution can make all the difference to a company’s data security and compliance efforts.
By implementing a robust IAM solution, healthcare organizations can enhance cybersecurity, reduce the risks of data loss due to human error and prevent malicious actors from stealing data. On top of that, IAM can also have several operational benefits, empowering healthcare organizations to cut costs, optimize employee efficiency and deliver better patient experiences.
Below, we’ll take a look at the four major benefits of IAM in more detail.
Enhance Cybersecurity and Protect Patient Information
Under HIPAA, healthcare organizations can face fines from as little as $100 to $50,000 per violation (or per record), with a maximum penalty of $1.5 million per year. Undoubtedly, achieving data privacy is crucial for all healthcare companies. The PHI and personally identifiable information (PII) these companies store is extremely lucrative to malicious actors. Therefore, it must be protected at all costs.
Unfortunately, healthcare organizations are innately tasked with protecting huge amounts of PII and PHI, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license information, prescription data, blood test results, and so on. Just think of the number of records like this your organization probably has on file!
Now, there’s no one way to safeguard PII and PHI. In fact, you need to take a multi-pronged approach to secure this data, including using tools like data loss prevention, complex passwords, and user behavior monitoring. Chances are, you’ve already implemented at least some of these solutions. Too often, though, these tools work in silos, leading to security gaps and clunky operations.
IAM can revolutionize your approach to protecting PII and PHI. Rather than using costly and manually-intensive tools, IAM is a one-stop shop for protecting PII from unauthorized access, enabling your IT team to optimize and automate data protection and identity management. This, in turn, leads to excellent cost savings in the long run, as your IT team can focus on higher-value projects that drive real business value.
Putting this into practice, let’s say you want to implement a system that allows patients to access information about their care, such as viewing their health records and chatting with their medical advisors via their mobile devices. Many hospitals achieve this by providing patients with their own tablets to use during their hospital stay. Not only does this kind of experience enhance the patient experience, but it makes your patients feel more empowered and in control of their care.
However, naturally, with any innovation comes data security risks. For example, when a new patient arrives at the hospital, your IT team will need to enter their data into the Active Directory to give them an email account. They’ll also need to ensure that the patient can’t inadvertently access another user’s medical data when using the device.
To make this process seamless and secure, healthcare organizations can use IAM to automate the account management and rollout process. Instead of using the slow, error-prone manual process of creating and managing patient accounts, IT teams can use automation. Automation provisioning with strict role management guarantees patient accounts are created and provided the correct access on time. Everything happens quickly and effortlessly so that your staff can deliver patients tablets that are ready to go with the right account, so there’s no risk of your patient seeing another individual’s data.
Stay Compliant And Efficient
As we’ve noted, HIPAA puts in place strict protocols regarding the privacy and security of health information. But many healthcare organizations are failing to keep up. In the last five years, for example, there have been over $94 million in fines for organizations violating HIPAA.
Again, IAM can save the day here! It’s one of the best ways to achieve compliance with HIPAA and other regulations, such as the CCPA and GDPR. IAM improves compliance because it automates the identity management process. This reduces time-consuming tasks when enrolling and managing identities while simultaneously reducing the risk of human error that comes with relying on IT staff to carry out such cumbersome processes.
More than compliance, though, IAM can also unlock new efficiency and productivity benefits. For example, caregivers often need to use multiple devices around the hospital so that they can quickly access patient data like medical history, treatment history, and other critical information. In some cases, accessing this data swiftly can even be the difference between life or death.
In the case of an emergency situation, or even for delivering great day-to-day care, you need to empower your staff to access information quickly and securely. Here, an IAM solution like single sign-on helps users quickly log in to Windows with an access card and PIN code. Thanks to an automated login process, your user can identify themselves just once at the beginning of the session and then access all the applications they need without having to verify themselves at every step, which saves a great amount of time.
Because the solution is cloud-based, physicians can also move from room to room, and device to device, quickly logging in and picking up their session where they left off. Nothing is lost along the way!
Manage Caregiver Access Effortlessly
Across industries, applying the principle of least privilege and embedding zero trust into operations is challenging, especially in the cloud! However, this is paramount to security. IBM Research recently found that cloud credentials that are up for sale on the dark web have risen by 200% in the last year. If credentials get into the wrong hands and aren’t properly segregated, you could have a huge data breach on your hands.
Putting in place policies to ensure that employees only have access to what’s needed is vital to healthcare security. Any unrestricted or unnecessary access is a data breach waiting to happen and potentially a compliance violation. Enter IAM, which enables you to automate the process of privilege management by assigning and withdrawing privileges as needed.
With IAM, privilege management becomes seamless and effortless without manual intervention. Your IT team no longer has to scratch their heads or toss and turn at night worrying about who has access to what. You can regain control of data security.
Reduce The Risk Of Human Error
Did you know that each year, healthcare organizations pay upwards of $28 million in financial penalties to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for HIPAA violations? The cause of most of these violations is an entirely avoidable one: human error. Unfortunately, it’s an increasing problem across industries as cloud adoption soars. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 99% of cloud security failures will be the fault of the customer.
Human error is unavoidable, so you need security tools that account for the fact that your people will make mistakes at some point. IAM is great for this. By automating account creation and account editing processes, the solution removes redundancies and any room for human error. At the same time, it saves you costs and streamlines operations.
You no longer have to worry about anyone making a careless mistake or becoming less efficient and accurate due to the overwhelming task of manually managing access rights.
Let’s Not Forget SSO
Alongside IAM tools, Single Sign-On (SSO) has many great security benefits for healthcare companies, enabling employees to securely access cloud environments and applications with a single login and security tokens rather than traditional passwords to verify the user’s identity.
Instead of having to verify themselves at every step as they work, SSO streamlines the authentication process, so your employees only have to log in once to access a range of applications at any time on any device in a secure way.
This benefits medical professionals who travel for work, like field nurses or in-home caregivers. Instead of going through the cumbersome process of logging in via a VPN and then into different applications, your employees can log in just once and work seamlessly from there.
Want to Learn More about Identity and Access Management?
Healthcare organizations need to implement an IAM solution. Far too many risks and concerns are associated with improper management of your organization’s resources. Therefore, an IAM solution is a necessity. But which one do you choose?
Tools4ever has an IAM solution that can provide your organization with exactly what you need to reduce costs and optimize efficiency while helping your organization with its compliance efforts under HIPAA and other regulations.
With Tools4ever’s Identity and Access Management Solution, your organization can:
- Automatically manage employee access rights for applications and data as the employee changes roles throughout the organization
- Employ a Self-Service functionality that allows employees to request access to resources, and managers can immediately approve them with zero IT intervention
- Unburden System Administrators with managing user account changes via automated processes