Healthcare providers need cloud-based identity management
When it comes to protected health information (PHI), health professionals and their partners walk a fine line between giving authorized parties immediate access to it and blocking everyone else. Data accessibility via the cloud allows doctors from practically any hospital to be immediately informed about critical patient information. If, for instance, a person gets into a car accident and is knocked unconscious, that person can’t say which medicine they are fatally allergic to or if they have legally issued a Do Not Resuscitate order for themselves. In cases such as these, accessing PHI quickly is critical.
However, PHI is vulnerable to many data security threats. The five most prevalent are:
● Ransomware attacks that threaten to keep critical data and hospital machinery unusable unless a ransom is paid ● Phishing emails that attempt to steal account credentials ● Theft or accidental loss of data or equipment (such as hospital bedside tablets) ● Accidental or intentional deletion of data by insiders ● Hackers who hijack connected medical equipment and threaten the well-being of patients
To mitigate these risks, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) requires healthcare providers and their partners to keep access to PHI to the barest minimum necessary to provide the intended healthcare. This makes the surface area of vulnerabilities as small as possible.
Since not just anyone must be able to view PHI, identity and access management must be both stringent and lightning fast. Traditional solutions are neither in IT environments where data access requirements are always changing for healthcare and non-healthcare staff. Cloud-based solutions are just what the IT doctor ordered.
Identity management in the cloud
Before cloud solutions came about, identity and access management (IAM) was mostly performed locally, i.e., if a patient’s records were kept in a hospital, access to these was managed there. This meant that if that patient had to be brought to another hospital, time and effort had to be spent to obtain their files from the primary hospital. Secondly, a user of the data (such as a doctor) may have to fulfill one set of access protocols in the primary hospital, and another set of protocols in another. Moreover, as firms in the healthcare industry became more and more interconnected, their IT infrastructures became more decentralized, making the old ways of managing identities and access rights obsolete.
Consistent access wherever the user may be By instead having identity management in the cloud, those who seek access to PHI can have their identities authenticated and their requests authorized, regardless of where they are. Additionally, firms can keep and maintain their access policies in one place, giving users a consistent access experience.
Easier management of devices and their users With so many disparate machines being used in healthcare facilities — and with more machines featuring connectivity — users’ access privileges must be properly applied to those devices and the apps they contain. Thankfully, the cloud has the flexibility and capacity to allow firms to dramatically add more authorized users and machines to their IT infrastructure.
Use of artificial intelligence (AI) Machine learning tools — AI programs that analyze data, identify patterns, and make decisions based on what they have gleaned instead of having to have humans explicitly program them to do so — process data-heavy images and user behavioral patterns to augment identity management processes and make them more secure and more efficient. These tools are resource-intensive, so if you choose to implement them, you can do so easily since the cloud lets you scale data processing bandwidth quickly.
To learn more about how identity management and other IT solutions serve you better when they’re based on the cloud, contact SimplyClouds. Trust us to take out the hype and simply show you the benefits of using the cloud.