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The Benefits of Identity Management for Healthcare Businesses

Identity Management Lessons from the UC San Diego Health Attack

The Benefits of Identity Management for Healthcare Businesses

Identity Management for healthcare businesses offers not only an opportunity to fortify IT infrastructures. It can also help ensure compliance, specifically with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and with the user experience. Therefore, your healthcare business needs to consider the benefits of identity management. 

Here, we present the three major benefits of identity management for healthcare businesses, and how it all fits together. However, first, we need to address what makes healthcare identity management so complicated and challenging.

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The Challenges Facing Identity Management for Healthcare

First, healthcare perhaps more than any other industry deals with constantly expanding business lines and mergers and acquisitions. This means improved and competitive service for patients, but it also means growing attack surfaces for threat actors.

Additionally, continually growing networks as seen in healthcare results in fragmented patient data. Often, this means sensitive data may exist in unsecured databases allowing for easy theft. Additionally, fragmented patient data can lead to redundant and unnecessary care, misdiagnosis, and incorrect medication. 

So the need for centralized patient data doesn’t just constitute a threat to databases and network security; it can also impact patients’ physical safety. Moreover, identity management for healthcare faces challenges typical for other enterprises expanding their IT infrastructures. Usually, these include dealing with on-premises applications, edge devices, and new cloud applications.

Finally, healthcare organizations need to deal with the erosion of the network perimeter and medical services devices such as medical IoT. So what can identity management for healthcare businesses actually do to solve these problems?  

The Benefits of Identity Management For Healthcare

1. Cybersecurity

Obviously, the first benefit of identity management centers on cybersecurity. Hackers frequently target healthcare providers in part because these businesses rarely deploy proper cybersecurity protocols; in fact, according to Armis, WannaCry continues to wreak havoc on healthcare businesses even after the devastating 2017 wave. In other words, healthcare enterprises have not adapted proper cybersecurity protocols despite the known threats targeting them. 

Therefore, your healthcare business needs a next-generation solution that repels hackers and maintains consistent access rules through authentication. Strong authentication not only stops hackers, but it also deters less experienced ones by demonstrating identity management awareness. Also, authentication can fortify and monitor web applications, cloud servers, and patient portals—the various environments in which healthcare operates.

Further, next-generation identity management for healthcare enables your business to benefit from multifactor authentication (MFA). Multifactor authentication is unquestionably the strongest form of authentication available to enterprises of all sizes. 

MFA doesn’t just rely on passwords to verify users; this is just as well, as passwords prove easy to circumvent, guess, or otherwise subvert. Instead, MFA uses all of the tools available to create a barrier between the user’s access request and the data. Factors may include hard tokens, biometrics, geofencing, time of access request monitoring, and context. 

For healthcare, frequent challenges in identity and access management include lifecycle management, governance, and multiple login points. While numerous next-generation identity management capabilities can help solve these challenges, single sign-on (SSO) can certainly solve the latter. SSO helps prevent multiple log-ins and thus multiple passwords that expands the attack surface.  

2. Compliance

If you work in healthcare, you care about HIPAA. This compliance mandate focuses on patient privacy and protections; it involves not only technical safeguards for patients but physical and administrative safeguards as well. In other words, HIPAA places a significant security burden on your healthcare organization. 

However, this comes with good news; HIPAA compliance helps your business tap into markets that use electronic health records; the overwhelming majority of physicians and hospitals use electronic health records. 

Thankfully, next-generation identity management for healthcare businesses can help you achieve HIPAA compliance. First, authentication and access management helps ensure patient’s data stays secure on your networks, fulfilling part of the mandate. Second, solutions with governance capabilities often feature out-of-the-box reporting and automated forms for HIPAA compliance.

3. User Experience Improvement

Finally, identity management can actually help make the patient-user experience and ultimately their care better. Through identity federation, disparate databases containing patient information can be centralized and secured simultaneously. This can prevent the problems with fragmented patient data and making sure the information stays out of reach of hackers. 

As stated above, single sign-on also avoids the need for continual authentication and log-ins. Identity management can optimize workflows, and assist with reviewing coverage, managing claims, and scheduling appointments. In short, this level of personalization should invoke a memory of customer identity and access management (CIAM); it helps to maintain consistent patient data and makes those patients feel individual and appreciated. 

How to Learn More About Identity Management Healthcare

Check out our Identity Management Buyer’s Guide. We cover the top solution providers, their use cases, and key capabilities in detail. 

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