A recent article in InformationWeek’s HealthCare section, Health IT’s True Mission: Baptist Health CIO Speaks, is a good example of the topics of technology driving innovation and efficiency for healthcare providers. There are so many manual processes, non-integrated systems and access to shared information that can drive a higher quality of care in most healthcare organizations. While when we think of innovation as a change or introduction of a technology that changes how we treat patients, it can also be more simplistic to merely alter the manner in which patient care is delivered by improving and automating processes, integrating systems and providing access to patient and health information.

Innovation and physician / clinician efficiency are intertwined as I look at re-structuring the foundation of healthcare IT. The amount of data that can be tracked and thus accessed to deliver higher levels of patient care is growing exponentially. Healthcare providers require access to this patient and health information, quickly and with the assurance it remains secure. Emerging technologies are assisting in making this seamless and enabling access to, and sharing of, sensitive patient information from anywhere, at any time and with any device.

Now comes the balance of control, security and efficiency. This requires a single, simple, secure access method that does not get in the way of quality care. Healthcare physicians and clinicians also often share devices, change roles and facilities, and move between facilities. This also requires the ability to remove the complexity of the environment of roles and privileges that must be managed to ensure the efficiency of your physicians and clinicians and the security of patient information.

When the process of managing the user accounts impacts patient care, IT falls under the microscope of hindering, rather than improving, the workplace, as Roland Garcia discusses in the opening article. This is the foundation that must be addressed in order to move up the chain to ensuring secure access, meaningful use of the information and automated, continuous compliance. An example of this is a healthcare provider that operates in 20 states across the United States, receiving more than 2 million patients each year at its hospitals, clinics, continuing care and hospice facilities. The organization employs approximately 85,000 people and reports annual operating revenues of more than $13 billion. As you might understand, this challenge had to be addressed as the manual process was error prone and took too long to get the physicians and clinicians effectively delivering quality care. You can read the whole story here.

Gaining control of the roles and privileges of the staff is the starting point. The next challenge becomes the requirements for a multi-factor authentication for regulated procedures, tests and/or drugs and integrating this capability into your foundation of managed identities. In some instances speed and sterility of the environment (meaning, whether or not something is touch or scanned) will define the method of authenticating and in comes another disrupting technology, Google Glass. In healthcare, it does have an application as outlined in this week’s article in HIT Consultant5 Medical Specialties that can Benefit from Google Glass.

The third factor for this drive to efficiency is the mobile device that the physicians and clinicians use to access patient information. You don’t want to manage the devices, but again, manage the identity of who is accessing the information and how they are accessing the information. If it is a personal device, you want to ensure information is not stored on the device and you will require the ability to quickly revoke access if the device is lost or stolen. Wiping someone’s personal device is not an option.

While compliance violations are making headlines, you cannot address security and compliance without first setting a firm foundation of efficient access management as an Identity Powered Healthcare Provider with the three factors discussed here being:

    • Foundation of Identities of the staff, their roles, privileges and the automation to manage efficiently
    • Advanced authentication and speed to access integrating authentication and access to patient information
    • Mobile access to patient information and ensuring patient privacy

Last year TBR’s Source IT Healthcare Report estimated that healthcare IT spending for 2014 would top $34.5B. We see this unraveling as:

    • Innovation through efficiency
    • Proactive security monitoring / threat detection
    • Automated, continuous compliance

I covered innovation through efficiency in this post and I’ll discuss the next two topics in future posts.


Michele Hudnall is Channel and Industry Solutions Marketing for NetIQ

Find her on Twitter: @HudnallsHuddle

Jun 6, 2014
12:35 pm