By Ajay Jain, President and CEO, Quantum Secure
It is an important objective of hospitals to provide a caring and comfortable environment where patients and their families can focus on the healing and recovery process without having to worry about their physical safety. This often poses a dilemma as hospitals work to balance the need to be welcoming and open with the need for strong security. Fortunately, it is possible to balance these two somewhat counterintuitive goals by managing the access permissions of individuals present at any given time in the facility or campus using physical identity and access management (PIAM) software.
It is for this reason that the use of PIAM in healthcare settings is on the rise. As the software continues to gain traction, keep an eye on these four trends, which represent some of the most useful and widely used PIAM solution applications in healthcare.
PIAM solutions unify identity management with physical access control and other diverse security systems, integrating these into a single platform for more streamlined security management. With a single point of control, errors are less likely and information management can be more precise. As a completely automated system that connects existing systems and automates key processes and workflows, PIAM allows hospitals to optimize their security operations cost-effectively while continuing to provide the caring and comfortable environment that is beneficial to patient health.
PIAM helps ensure compliance with HIPAA requirements regarding both physical access to sensitive data to maintain the privacy and security of individually identifiable health information. The software provides individual identities with access only to what is dictated by defined policies. Any change or update to a policy or rule triggers an automatic revision in other identification sets. PIAM’s integrated monitoring feature provides auto-remediation of any compliance anomalies, and robust reporting capability allows hospitals to enforce, maintain, and demonstrate compliance with HIPAA regulations.
For HL7 (Health Level-7), which refers to specific standards for the exchange, integration and retrieval of electronic health information, PIAM software can be integrated into a patient’s electronic health record (EHR) providing a more holistic view for medical professionals. At the same time, information about visitors, dietary restrictions, and other non-medical patient information can also be tied together within a policy-based workflow.
On average, five infants per year are abducted from U.S. hospitals, in some cases despite the presence of high-tech security bracelets designed to prohibit removal of an infant from a maternity ward. Incorporating an intelligent identity-based visitor management solution provides enhanced security by automating the verification, screening, and badging of identities across a healthcare facility. These solutions also allow patients to control who is on their family and friends list, so only those people can be issued badges that authorize them to enter specified access points. By preventing unauthorized individuals from entering certain areas, hospitals can reduce the likelihood of child abduction.
Patients who are mentally, developmentally, or emotionally impaired or who are addicted to drugs are just some of the types of individuals who may attempt elopement (or bolting) from a facility. This possibility poses significant issues for hospitals, where it is often not physically difficult for an individual to bolt. Incorporating physical access control on doors to areas where at-risk populations are housed is a vital step in preventing elopement. Credentials can be incorporated into ID bracelets or other wearable badge, and all individuals would have to present their credentials to leave a particular area. Once this physical infrastructure is in place, PIAM software manages the identities of patients, staff, visitors, contractors, and others, and incorporates each patient’s data into the system to ensure that anyone coming to visit a patient is vetted according to set policies. Tying in video surveillance to document activity and identify individuals in case of an incident is another key step in helping to prevent elopement.
More and more hospitals are realizing the benefits of PIAM and are relying on these solutions to streamline time-consuming and inefficient processes such as issuing ID badges, managing databases, and assigning access privileges across multiple physical access control systems. As understanding and adoption of PIAM continues to grow, hospitals will continue to find new and innovative uses for the software that will allow them to more effectively and cost-efficiently create a caring, comfortable, and more secure environment for patients, staff, visitors, and others.