How to Secure Identity and Access in the Healthcare Industry
The Healthcare industry has a lot of high-value, highly-priced information that is not available on the dark internet. Healthcare organizations need to have strong and secure Identity and Access Management systems (IAM) to protect their data. However, this system must not slow down or reduce efficiency due to the sensitive nature of healthcare work.
To ensure that patients have quick access to their medical history, regions with good central healthcare management systems can share patient information and medical records among hospitals in the region. This information sharing requires a strong identity and access management platform to act as the central backbone. It allows healthcare professionals to connect and authenticate with patients and to provide secure, quick access to them across multiple systems.
Let’s have a closer look at IAM-specific functionality used in healthcare.
Single Sign On
Healthcare professionals use many systems in the hospital on a daily basis. They can access patient information, authorize medication administration, track patient procedures, schedule surgery, and so forth. Users simply don’t have the time or patience to remember passwords or waste time logging in to different systems due to the hectic environment they work in.
Healthcare users will have easy access to the systems they require with a seamless authentication system and cross-protocol single-sign-on functionality.
An IAM solution provides users the ability to have multiple accounts with one account. This is what happens when a patient visits the same hospital repeatedly but must register multiple times for different tasks such as filling out admissions forms, scheduling appointments with specialists, ordering medication, and checking test results. Healthcare providers may have multiple records for the same patient, with different logins required for common tasks.
This patient can simply use an IAM solution and a central system to provide their information once. They have access to multiple applications and systems to perform different tasks using the same login credentials and account.
XACML – Real-time Provisioning and Secure Access Control
Secure access to information is one of the main reasons hospitals and healthcare vendors need a stable IAM solution. It is easy to understand why. Just think of all the different roles that exist in a hospital, and how diverse their interactions with applications are. Even if you only take the “doctor” role, there are many levels and specializations. This makes it difficult to understand why even this “role”, although it is generic enough for simple access control scenarios. We need precise access control functionality.
Access control becomes even more complicated when you consider the ever-changing staff, which includes residents, visiting surgeons, and part-time physicians, who all require restricted privileges and real-time access to hospital data. JIT-provisioning allows visiting specialists to be authenticated in real-time into the system and gain restricted access to resources. It is essential to have a good IAM solution for this type of role-based access control.
XACML policies are designed to control patient access and can be used to address specific access control requirements. Modern health services store patient data in a central repository. This information is accessible via a web service. This can have complicated authorization requirements in most cases. A user with the role of “doctor”, should be able to update a patient’s medical record, but not erase it.
Therefore, they should have access to the “edit data” or “view data” operations on the web service but not the “delete records” operation. Let’s now look at a more complicated requirement. This rule has real-world restrictions to ensure that the data is protected more securely. The physician should have access to patient data only for the time that they are assigned to it. They should not have access indefinitely. After the patient is treated, and the required time period for after-care has expired, the physician should be denied access.
If we look at identity relationship management, however, we might face the requirement that a general practitioner (GP), also known as a “family physician”, can have access to patient data as long as they are registered to be the patient’s primary doctor. However, the same access privileges wouldn’t be granted to a physician performing elective surgery on the patient. These complexities can all be managed effectively with good access and identity management solution an XACML engine.
Microservices and APIs are used to securely and efficiently collect and update patient information. Healthcare APIs are essential to regionalized healthcare management. Hospitals and medical offices can use APIs to share information within their region or area. This allows them to quickly access patient information, reduce errors and improve efficiency.
APIs can also help in providing better patient care by recording every step of a patient’s journey within a hospital. One patient might visit the hospital for a quick appointment. However, this may lead to multiple scans and tests, medication, surgeries, and other post-care appointments. The standardization of APIs across these services means that the medical industry or hospitals in a specific region can avoid having all the data isolated among disconnected data silos. Instead, they can use all the data to create a complete and detailed record of the patient’s healthcare history.
Analytics and Progressive Profiling
It can be a great way to gain medical insights by treating the healthcare platform like a Customer Identity and Access Management project (CIAM). An integrated view of large amounts of patient data can be used to profile and categorize patients, providing insight into trends in inpatient care. Analytics can help to get measurable statistics, which can help in making better and more meaningful medical decisions.
Because of its importance, healthcare data is always under attack. The consequences of the wrong person getting access to this information could be life-threatening and critical. It would also be time-consuming and tedious for healthcare professionals to go through 2-3 levels to prove their identity when they have very little time.
Adaptive authentication can only be used to prompt additional steps of authentication if the authentication is unusual (e.g. authorizing a higher dose of high-risk medicines, log in from another location/device, etc.).
User Managed Access
Patients are increasingly requesting access to sensitive data from IoT devices, wearables, and smartwatches. However, it is difficult to do so in a safe and controlled way. Patients would be able to share this information, which could improve their health and provide quality patient care.
IAM solutions provide users with user-managed access mechanisms that allow for this level of data sharing between patients, healthcare providers, and other parties.
Many healthcare procedures, including scheduling or administering medication, require consent from multiple people. A single procedure, for example, may require approval from both a senior specialist and consent from the patient/guardian. An IAM solution can easily handle these types of requirements. It will set up approval workflows, and manage communication between different systems.