ECU Health delivers quality healthcare for 1.4 million people across 29 North Carolina counties and rural areas. The company has 9 hospitals, 16,000 employees across eastern North Carolina, and a mission to do community outreach to help people improve their health.
With so many North Carolinians relying on ECU Health for healthcare, securing access to critical data and systems is vital. ECU Health was challenged to respond to increased remote work needs, changing regulatory requirements, and had goals to speed up clinician access, and replace manual processes with intelligent automation. They also needed to control access to the required resources and prevent over-provisioning.
ECU Health partnered with SailPoint and adopted AI-Driven Identity Security to enable secure and compliant access to critical healthcare systems and data for its 16,000 employees. These solutions streamlined employee onboarding, eliminated manual tracking for employee onboarding, reduced IT staffing requirements, and increased user satisfaction.
We are using SailPoint’s AI capabilities to identify outliers, users that have more access privileges than they should as compared to others. We’re using it as a basis for cleaning up and auditing our access privileges and tightening our identity governance structure
Nickisha Bennett-Burton, Identity and Access Manager, ECU Health
for onboarding processes that took weeks previously
to onboard critical applications, down from 5 months in the past
in identity and access management saved
Delivering exceptional care to 1.4 million people requires that providers and staff have access to the correct information at the right time with the proper security precautions. ECU Health recognized that the best way to do that was through an identity security platform.
ECU Health’s goal was to streamline its processes and secure critical health information while supporting healthcare workers in delivering critical one-on-one health care. It was also hoping that the solution would enable it to make better use of its data, support geographic flexibility, drive increased efficiencies, and streamline compliance tasks.
“We had an existing identity management system, but it was very limited,” said Nickisha Bennett-Burton, Identity and Access Manager, ECU Health. “It was very time-consuming, inflexible, and wouldn’t connect to all our systems.”
Challenged to manage users and future opportunities
A good healthcare system like ECU Health is driven by people, from the doctors, nurses, clinicians, staff, and affiliates. But all those people need secure and controlled access to critical health systems and data. As a result, ECU Health recognized that identity and access management were critical capabilities for it going forward.
First, there were the essential tasks of providing employees with login credentials and access to the appropriate systems. At the time, ECU Health had a team of seven people managing that, using an existing but limited system, and doing the rest of it manually. Not only was it time-consuming, but the lack of automation increased the risk of errors and problems.
In addition, there were numerous other considerations driving ECU Health to consider new approaches to identity management, including:
- Protecting sensitive data
- Geographic flexibility
- Artificial intelligence
- Need for greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness
- Regulatory and compliance requirements
Enabling better healthcare through identity security
ECU Health knew its existing approach to identity management was too time- and resource-consuming and wouldn’t allow it to address all the challenges it needed to.
To support its critical health care and emergency medicine requirements, ECU Health needed a robust identity security solution with a great SLA and solid disaster recovery capabilities. The company needed a solution that was flexible and had great connectivity options. It wanted something that could provide a great user experience and deliver a solid return on investment.
In addition, the company wanted a solution it could manage long-term, one that wouldn’t require ongoing investments for a systems integrator or the vendor to make changes.
After a thorough evaluation, ECU Health identified SailPoint as the right answer. Not only did it meet ECU Heath’s technical requirements, but it was a solid fit beyond that.
“SailPoint stood out to us because it was able to show the value and ROI,” said Nickisha Bennett-Burton. “A good reputation was important in our selection process, and we wanted a solution we could manage independently. SailPoint fits all those requirements.”
ECU Health initially worked with CDW (FocalPoint at the time) to implement IdentityNow and went live with the solution in June of 2022. The first integrations supported PeopleSoft, Microsoft Active Directory, Epic and EMP and used core features of IdentityNow, including Access Certifications, Access Requests, Provisioning, Compliance, and Separation of Duties. The project’s third phase focuses on using SailPoint to support certification campaigns.
One problem that had long faced ECU Health was ensuring that users only had access to the required resources. Over time and as staff moved around, they accumulated additional access privileges without eliminating unnecessary access controls.
To solve that problem, ECU Health is turning to AI-Driven Identity Security from SailPoint. “We are using SailPoint’s AI capabilities to identify outliers, users that have more access privileges than they should as compared to others. We’re using it as a basis for cleaning up and auditing our access privileges and tightening our identity governance structure,” said Nickisha Bennett-Burton.
The user experience benefits of identity security
The benefits for ECU Health of deploying SailPoint have been significant, especially for the company’s staff.
“I think the biggest impact of the SailPoint solution has been on our users,” said Nickisha Bennett-Burton. “Previously, with new employees it was possible for them to go one or two weeks without access. With SailPoint, when employees arrive for training, they’re already completely set up with access to everything they need. It’s almost like magic.”
Managers no longer need to make separate requests for each application to which a new user, such as a nurse, might need access. Instead, an automated process automatically provides new users with email and access to all required applications.
SailPoint’s IdentityNow has eliminated one of the most significant sources of complaints—lack of access—from new hires, which is important because ECU Health has big teaching hospitals with many new residents starting each year.
The result is the employees are happy because they can start on time. The managers are happy because they don’t have to submit multiple requests for each different application for each new employee.
“With SailPoint, we can onboard faster. We process new hires four times a day, so it makes us look really fast,” said Nickisha Bennett-Burton. “The overall process time for onboarding new users and allocating access privileges went from up to a couple of weeks down to four hours because of SailPoint.”
Nickisha Bennett-Burton also appreciates the flexibility that IdentityNow provides via capabilities like use cases, which can define processes for groups of users, such as residents or students.
The solution has also been a big win regarding time savings for the IT staff.
With SailPoint we don’t have to spend as much time granting access. Instead, we can focus on optimizing and streamlining our workflows. We’re able to use high-value IT resources on more high-value projects
Nickisha Bennett-Burton, Identity and Access Manager, ECU Health
Enabling future growth and efficiency through identity management
By using SailPoint to control and enable its staff, clinicians, providers, and affiliates access to critical medical information at the right time, with appropriate levels of security and control, ECU Health is empowering its users to provide the best care possible.
SailPoint enables ECU Health to be more agile since the turnaround time for making access management changes has been reduced from weeks or days to hours. IdentityNow’s flexibility and integration capabilities are also critical for ECU Health’s future growth and expansion efforts.