The following is a guest post by Dean Wiech, managing director, Tools4ever.
It is extremely important that in emergency care settings clinicians act quickly to treat their patients. However, the login processes at hospitals and healthcare organizations can often hinder the speed at which clinicians can provide care to their patients.
Clinicians need quick access the patient’s medical history, dosages, medications, etc. to offer the proper care and every second that is lost could have been used for critically needed treatment. While all healthcare organizations need to ensure the security of their systems and applications, this can have a negative impact on the treatment of their patients and can result in time being lost because of inefficient login processes and procedures.
Something as simple as simplifying access to important systems, like patient health records, can save anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes each day, which is time gained caring for patients. By giving clinicians quick access to a patient’s health record, caregivers can make quicker decisions about what kind of treatment options and medications to pursue. Clinicians often have to check several different systems and records in multiple environments to make these decisions. With a single sign-on (SSO) solution, employees not only improve workflow, documentation and security is also improved since the software records all user activities. This also allows the healthcare organization to easily see what each employee is doing on the network.
A single sign-on solution allows clinicians to have a single set of credentials to log on to a computer or workstation. Once they log in one time, they are automatically signed into all authorized systems and applications when they are launched. SSO eliminates major hassles for clinicians and allows them to focus on their key priority, the patients.
The Rivierenland Hospital was one hospital that was able to improve efficiency with an SSO solution. The hospital’s clinicians indicated their frustration at having to remember too many log-in credentials and the time that it took them to log in before assisting each patient. To mitigate these issues an SSO solution was implemented allowing clinicians to swipe their card near the card reader and enter a PIN to access all of the applications and systems they need without having to remember and enter long passwords.
In response to the implementation of SSO, Jos Meeuwsen, the hospital’s system administrator said, “We have received compliments from various departments, including the usually highly-critical Intensive Care department. This is an extremely user-friendly solution.”
There are many reasons why healthcare organizations are hesitant to implement an SSO solution. They believe that SSO can hinder security, or that an implementation will be expansive or drawn out. IT managers assume that if an unauthorized person gets hold of that single log in credential, that person will have access to all the account’s associated applications. Though this does appear to constitute a risk, the log-in process is actually streamlined for the user. Having to remember just one password essentially does away with the risk that the users will scribble passwords on a piece of paper and store them under their keyboard.
If they still feel strongly about it being a security risk, SSO can offer additional security with two-factor authentication. This allows clinicians to swipe or place their card on the card reader in addition to entering a unique PIN. This process ensures that the user needs something physical, the card and something from memory, the PIN, to access the network. In addition, a second pass of the card, or removal from the reader, closes all applications and logs the user of the computer.
In regard to the implementation of SSO being an expensive and a drawn-out process, the nice thing is that it’s often not necessary to set it up for all the people in an organization. For example, in a hospital, SSO is only needed for a select group of people. The advice here is to restrict SSO to the most critical applications and the people who have to log in to a variety of different applications or from multiple locations. The implementation will then be easy to control in terms of price and complexity. This offers an excellent springboard for any further growth and expansion in accordance with changing future needs.
SSO also has additional benefits in addition to reducing the amount of time it takes to log in. The solution can easily assist with audits by providing a detailed log of each user who has logged in and what they did on the network. SSO can also help healthcare organizations easily switch from shared workstations to individual account logins, which is required by HIPPA. Instead of eliminating the shared workstations and giving clinician’s credentials to the systems and applications, SSO easily transitions them to their own single set of credentials. Many vendors also offer a “follow me” feature. This option allows users who have opened applications on Citrix and/or Terminal Server to continue their work on another computer.
An SSO solution, along with the many features offered, can result in a drastic time savings, particularly in the case of specialists who make their rounds amongst several departments or floors. Implementing SSO is an easy process, and the solution integrates with almost all applications, including cloud applications. SSO provides the healthcare organization long-lasting benefits including increasing the care that patients receive and eliminates a great deal of wasted time.
Dean Wiech is managing director at Tools4ever. Tools4ever supplies a variety of software products and integrated consultancy services involving identity management, such as user provisioning, role-based access control, password management, single sign one and access management, serving more than 5 million user accounts worldwide.