Streamlining Access Requests to Increase Security and Efficiency Across Healthcare Systems
Kasturi Sinha

“According to statistics, between 2009 and 2020, there was a spike in healthcare data breaches. During these years, 3,705 breaches have been reported, with each of them resulting in massive financial penalties for healthcare providers.”

“The fines for HIPAA non-compliance range from $100 to $50,000 per violation with a maximum fine of $1.5 million per calendar year for an organization. The number of penalties illustrates the importance of investing resources into healthcare information security.”

Information security is one of the leading priorities in the healthcare industry today. Healthcare organizations are primary targets for attacks with the amount of sensitive data they protect. Stolen health records are highly lucrative and have a longer shelf-life than financial data, which is a major force driving the increase in healthcare breaches which calls for better security. With this, it becomes imperative that healthcare organizations have a comprehensive Identity Access Management (IAM). IAM has emerged as a great way to ensure that data security is not to put at risk during daily operations.

Why Security in Healthcare?

Healthcare providers face an uphill climb to ensure their identity and access management are effective across their environments. Here are the top access-related challenges that health systems encounter today:

  • Addressing the ongoing complexity arising from a sprawling network of health systems: The dodgiest activity is managing a substantial number of digital identities and PHI data coming from a complex network of health systems spanning multiple applications and devices. Communication over devices and services must be secure, preventing unauthorized access and modifications.
  • Ensuring patient privacy and compliance: Government has made it mandatory that PHI data and electronic health records have enough safety measures in place and ensure adherence to HIPAA, failing which may result in the imposition of a huge fine.
  • Efficiently maintaining access for a diverse, contingent, and rotating workforce: Healthcare systems are accessed by multiple user types who need appropriate access depending on the requirement. Healthcare security professionals must ensure that they intelligently create, monitor, manage, and remove access in a timely manner for user accounts.

Healthcare organizations today know the value of keeping personal health information secure to manage brand reputation and access risks. They also know the high cost that a data breach can have on their organization, both in terms of monetary costs and loss of brand reputation. To ensure patients and users can trust that their health information is secure, it is essential for a healthcare organization to have reliable identity governance programs to keep sensitive data safe.

Core capabilities of the right IAM for Healthcare organizations:

  • Intuitive Patient and Member Experience with Self-Service Options: Different personas (members/patients, providers, billers, brokers, researchers, etc.) all utilize health portals for a variety of reasons. They expect intuitive ways to engage with PHI/EHR and complete various tasks. This makes it important for the IAM platform to provide a range of functionalities like registration, authentication, and self-service options that one can customize to serve the needs of each user population.
  • User engagement with Single sign-on Access: What formerly were places to view bills and lab results are now avenues to chat with your doctor and track health metrics in real time. IAM platform should, therefore, provide single sign-on for all users and resources and unify health profiles with centralized sharing options to ensure user engagement.
  • Online Health Privacy with Multi-factor Authentication: We already understand that patient and member data need to be secure. MFA solution can be offered as an optional measure for patients to enable another layer of security to access their online health profiles.

Additionally, mobile SDK can be embedded in mobile apps to provide an extra layer of privacy by requiring an additional authentication to view sensitive health and profile data, like prescription notifications.

  • Zero Downtime During Application Rationalization: Organizations are often cautious about rationalizing systems too quickly (or at all) for fear of disrupting business as usualThis makes it important that IAM platforms are designed to maintain secure access to critical resources even during IAM rationalization.
  • Ensuring Privilege Access Management (PAM): There is a dire need to manage, monitor, and protect access to privileged accounts and patient information, making PAM essential to ensure compliance, secure data, and minimize human error. PAM imposes the principle of least privilege to avoid credential harvesting and lateral movement by bad actors who may exploit entry-level privileges and meddle with patient data.
  • Maintain Compliance and Prevent Breaches: Integrated healthcare delivery requires sharing the same data with more non-employee health partners than ever before. However, these should not come at the cost of data breaches and compliance violations. This makes it important to enforce least privilege access, while still providing users enough access to effectively perform their critical roles within the healthcare environment.

Choosing the right IAM solution

Now that we understand how an IAM platform should work for integrated healthcare delivery, it is important for organizations to judiciously select the right IAM solution. First and foremost, IAM provides a level of built-in security through the app development pipeline, which makes it crucial for implementing DevSecOps in the organization. It is one of the building blocks for creating a layered approach to security across virtual machines, containers, and cloud environments. It is important to ensure that the selected IAM system can support solutions across multiple environments and workloads. Since there is a wide range of IAM solutions available, enterprises can narrow down their options by following below steps: 

  • Conducting an audit of new and legacy systems, especially if there are applications both on-premises and in the cloud.
  • Identifying any security gaps for both internal and external stakeholders.
  • Defining user types and their specific access rights.

Once the security needs are identified, it is time to deploy the IAM solution. Organizations can then choose a standalone solution, a managed identity service, or a cloud subscription service, for example, Identity as a Service (IDaaS).

About the Author


Kasturi Sinha

Lead Healthcare Vertical from a Presale perspective in Cloud Engineering Studio, Brillio. Presales and Business Consultant with 9+ years of industry experience in delivering value for many digital projects and assessments. She is passionate about innovations, and closely follows upcoming technological advancements say – Digital Twin, Metaverse, Artificial Intelligence, AR/VR, Virtual Reality, and Automation predominantly in Healthcare Domain.

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