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Cloud-Based Identity and Access Management Increases Flexibility

Cloud-based healthcare identity and access management can give security infrastructure flexibility and IT visibility into increasingly complicated networks.

healthcare identity and access management

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Organizations are leaning towards healthcare identity and access management (IAM) solutions as they continue to add cloud-based services and mobile devices to their IT infrastructure.

Research and Markets predicts that the IAM market should grow at a CAGR of 12.7 percent through 2025 because of the emergence of insider threats and the increased spending on IT security solutions. The healthcare industry in particular should see a rise in IAM solutions because of strict security compliance demands

IAM is a cybersecurity solution that allows the right users to access the right resources at the right time for the right reason. IAM solutions manage user identifying data across an organization’s network including clearance information and passwords. As IT infrastructure technology continues to add more features, IAM solutions ensure that access to high risk data remains protected from employees who do not have the clearance level to see certain data, and people outside of an organization who can put data at risk.  

From a healthcare security standpoint, IAM options and the potential benefits they provide are ideal. IAM can ensure that a facility has a role-based access framework, and that the proper access is provided to the proper individuals.

The Research and Markets report suggested that the IAM cloud deployments would be the most popular way for organizations to deploy their IAM solutions.

“Cloud is changing the way a business operates,” said the report. “It facilitates a different level of cost-benefit, flexibility, and efficiency to carry out business functions. Moreover, it also provides organization an opportunity to transform their business models and gain a competitive edge over their competitors. Managing identities and accessing control for enterprise applications act as one of the prominent challenges faced by IT.”

Organizations are operating in multicloud environments for the most part which makes bringing IAM solutions into the cloud an ideal way to deploy them. This makes the IAM solutions more flexible, and makes it easier to integrate with other cloud-based tools.

IAM solutions need to restrict access to electronic health records (EHRs) without compromising patient care. A solution with too many restrictions can deny valid user access causing delays to patient care, while IAM solutions that are too lax can compromise private patient access.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) considers identity proofing and authentication as the first line of security defense but claims that it also has the potential to be the weakest link in organizational security. Identity authentication controls user access to protected health information (PHI), and if identity authentication should fail, other infrastructure security measures may not have the ability to fully protect the network.

“All manner of access stems from the application of a user’s credentials,” the Identity and Access Management for Health Information Exchange guide explains. “If identity proofing and authentication are not implemented effectively, there is a negative downstream effect as exchange organizations and providers make numerous decisions based on identity within several security controls including access, encryption, auditing, and non-repudiation (digital signatures and authentication). As electronic health information exchange between different organizations and providers grows, it is essential to focus on these key building blocks of security and how trust with respect to identity controls can be improved.”

The guide also emphasizes HIPAA compliance and its relevance to IAM solutions. While HIPAA does not outline specific framework or standard IAM implementation guidelines, it requires covered entities to:

  • Conduct an accurate and thorough assessment of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic PHI held by the covered entity or business associate.
  • Implement security measures sufficient to reduce risks and vulnerabilities to a reasonable and appropriate level.

Healthcare organizations are building security networks that will protect new IT infrastructure tools and their many connections. Introducing a cloud-based IAM solution can help organizations gain visibility and control over their network.

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