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Why Healthcare Providers Need to Rethink the Impact of Identity Governance

In today’s digitized healthcare environment, many providers continue to view cybersecurity as an IT challenge. However, it is important to step back and consider how data security facilitates information exchange, which is essential to the industry’s current integrated approach to patient care. When observed in this context, provider organizations can no longer afford to view cybersecurity as solely an IT issue. Moreover, identity governance, which enables providers to securely and effectively govern access to sensitive information, must be considered mission critical for any provider organization.

Why Data Access is a Challenge

Healthcare is rapidly evolving and creating new challenges to provider operations. Among the more difficult challenges, is the proper and efficient governance of user access to patient data. Consider these examples.

  • The technology evolution has accelerated – Catalyzed by the adoption of electronic health records (EHR). the digitization of clinical data has and continues to change the threat landscape. With provider organizations using hundreds of applications and systems to store and transmit sensitive information, administrators and data owners face the daunting task of governing access consistently to mitigate breach and compliance risk. Failing to do so, could cost providers millions of dollars to conduct forensics examinations after a breach, repair and regain the trust of its patient population, and to potentially settle regulatory fines.
  • Demand for data sharing is increasing – The need for data sharing continues to rise as provider entities join forces through mergers and acquisitions, growth of accountable care organizations, and the advent of health information exchanges. However, exchanging digital information can lead to the improper exposure of data. A response to any crisis around data security could have a significant impact on speed-of-operation for clinical and operational teams.
  • The ever-increasing presence of personal devices (BYOD) – The provider-care setting has seen an increase in personal device usage which means more data access points to manage. Such an environment broadens the scope of managing data from determining who should have access to what and when, to include how data is accessed. These complexities require a sophisticated level of security that balances against the need for prompt data access through the clinicians’ native workflow.

9 out of 10 healthcare organizations have experienced a data breach within the previous two years. Of these organizations, 48% had 5+ breaches during the same period.

-2016 Benchmark Study on Privacy & Security of Healthcare Data – Ponemon Institute

Identity Governance’s Impact on a Provider Organization

Identity governance solutions can address the challenges listed above in the following ways:

  • Gives healthcare providers greater visibility and control of who has access to what, when and where—thus delivering timely and appropriate access to patient records.
  • Reduces operational costs by streamlining access to systems and applications and improving coordination between clinicians.
  • Enables confident data sharing to avoid hefty compliance fines and financially crippling breaches that results from inadvertent exposure of sensitive information to unauthorized users.
  • Drives compliance through process documentation for audits.
  • Gains control of sensitive content by extending identity governance beyond systems and application, to data files wherever they reside.

When identity governance is done properly, managing access will strike a perfect balance between security and the need for better clinical and operational workflows. Ultimately, this enables providers to focus on what they do best—delivering quality patient care.

Learn how identity governance can address issues around compliance and cybersecurity to support better provider operations and delivery of care read Why Compliance is Insufficient for Healthcare Cybersecurity.