How IGA Secures Protected Health Information

Patient care isn’t just about meeting a patient’s medical and physical needs. It involves keeping the digital identity of the patient protected. Think of it this way — patients have two versions of themselves that need to be taken care of: their physical selves, the ones that need medical attention, and their digital selves, the identities that are in a hospital’s databases, files, and EMR systems. And in an increasingly digital and interconnected world, it’s even more imperative for healthcare facilities to keep protected health information (PHI) safe and secure.

What is IGA?

Identity governance and administration is the management of all users and their access rights to make sure they align with an organization’s access policy, or the rules around who should have access to certain accounts and assets and what privileges are needed to gain access. Ideally, these solutions can sync with HR systems to automatically grant access based on the criteria set by an organization like job title, responsibilities, or organizational department. You can also grant or revoke access privileges for one-off events like projects or collaborations, like an HR staff member receiving access to financial documents for an HR project, then having that access taken away once they found the information they needed.

Why Healthcare Systems Need IGA Solutions

When it comes to protecting patient information, IGA software solutions provide streamlined assurance that only authorized users are accessing private patient data. There are millions of access attempts into electronic medical records (EMR) each day, and by nature, access to patient records has to be open-ended without restraints or controls. Imagine if an ER nurse had to wait for approval to access a patient record to see if they could administer a certain medication or treatment. Any disruption to the treatment could be life-altering, so it’s critical that users within a healthcare system can access the right information right away. IGA solutions make sure that this happens — but only for those who are allowed access.

How IGA Solutions Keep PHI Safe

1. The solution ensures the healthcare organization’s access policy is being followed. IGA solutions carry out the execution of lining up a user and the appropriate access rights they should have based on criteria set in the policy.

2. They implement least privileged access. Every user — nurse, doctor, staff, technician, and third-party vendor — is only granted access to the accounts or information that pertains to their specific job and nothing more. It minimizes and restricts access to reduce overall risk of PHI being compromised or accessed by a malicious user.

3. IGA solutions enhance employee productivity by making sure nurses and hospital staff have the access required to do their job effectively and efficiently. As stated earlier, healthcare workers don’t have time to enter passwords or go through multiple rounds of authentication. They need urgent, quick, and safe access to PHI. IGA makes sure they have exactly the access they need when they need it.

4. It helps meet HIPAA and HITECH compliance requirements. These regulations are all about maintaining the dignity of patient data, keeping it confidential, and protecting it from bad actors. IGA is another way organizations can demonstrate their commitment to keeping access to PHI minimal to only those who need it to administer patient care. Plus, a streamlined workflow can easily produce reports or document user access for compliance audits.

5. IGA solutions help provision and deprovision access based on employee status. If a nurse, doctor, practitioner, etc. is no longer employed or no longer needs access, IGA systems will remove access.
It’s possible to make sure PHI is accessed in a secure, regulated, and streamlined way. Healthcare organizations don’t have to leave it to chance. By implementing governance practices and automating access management with IGA solutions, you can gain back control over access to critical information like PHI.

This article originally appeared in HealthIT Security.