Protecting our Digital Identities is now more important than ever

As the current global pandemic has proven, emergencies bring out the very best in most people, and sadly, the worst in a tiny minority. I’m talking about the proliferation of COVID-19 related phishing scams targeted at a more vulnerable than usual public, cyber-attacks against hospitals and testing labs, and even the World Health Organisation has been hit.

While our clinicians and healthcare workers are bravely battling this deadly virus, so IT departments have had to scramble to provide the support required as wards are repurposed and touchless zones are created to prevent the spread of infection, field hospitals are mobilised, and for as many people as possible to work remotely. And, we are several more steps closer towards telehealth, with some clinics now providing consultations remotely, using videoconferencing capabilities to see the patient.

Technology, often seen as a barrier to care on the frontline, is enabling these changes, but it is also putting a huge strain on systems, that are now being used in ways they were never designed to be used. It’s the gaps that appear when people are distracted, busy, stressed, workflows are unfamiliar and systems stretched that attackers are most likely to strike – they know exactly how to exploit such weaknesses. This is why, now more than ever we need to protect our digital identities.


Fast, easy and secure access to data - not an oxymoron!

In taking steps to protect digital identities, there are significant benefits to be gained. It is a fact that fast convenient access to patient data, and, secure, audited access to patient data are not two mutually exclusive goals. A system that provides fast and easy access to patient data at the tap of a badge or token (touch-free) would clearly make life easier for clinicians. If it also provides robust security that saves a clinician nearly an hour per shift, saves them having to remember complex passwords, and saves the IT service desk countless calls on password resets, it has to be worth looking at.

This is such a serious issue that back in January (which seems like an age ago now) the Government announced additional funds to help NHS Trusts implement Single Sign On technology to save time for clinicians logging into the many different clinical systems that they need to access. An example of time saved was Alder Hey hospital (where they use Imprivata OneSign!).


Catalyst for Change

None of the issues around slow login times and clunky workarounds to accessing clinical applications and sensitive patient data have gone away, and with the heightened risk of cyber-attacks the current crisis has thrown the situation into even more of a spotlight.

At the same time, we’ve seen extraordinary examples of IT teams rolling out technology within a couple of weeks that would ordinarily have taken several years to accomplish. While this is inspiring, it is also concerning.

In our latest white paper entitled: Protecting Digital Identities with Optimal Healthcare Security During a Global Pandemic, we give practical guidance based on the experience of our clients, on how healthcare organisations can secure digital identity now, enabling them to prepare for the future and ensure systems meet security standards, even in a time of crisis.

The White Paper covers the key considerations for healthcare organisations as they rapidly scale their IT infrastructure to meet current demands:

  • Security – best practice needs to be reviewed when utilising applications hosted in the cloud
  • Compliance – standards exist to protect the organisation, the clinician and the patient
  • Reliability & Availability – crucial when using cloud-based solutions
  • Usability – systems must enhance and streamline clinical workflows
  • Integrations & Ecosystem – the more systems that can be linked together, the more likely clinicians are to use it
  • Total Cost of Ownership – the true cost of cloud versus on-premises solutions

Healthcare organisations that take these practical steps when considering security of clinical systems and patient data, will indeed be well prepared for the future and best placed to handle whatever happens next.

For more information download the whitepaper: Protecting Digital Identities with Optimal Healthcare Security During a Global Pandemic.