Identity & Access Management for Healthcare- Analyzing the Need


Healthcare is a highly regulated sector due to the sensitivity of the data it handles, such as patient records, credit card numbers, and insurance details. So to ensure the safety and security of this confidential data, implementing an IGA solution has become crucial. 

In this article, we’ll discuss a few challenges faced by healthcare and how IGA steps in to counter these issues.  

In order to understand why there is an emerging need for identity governance and administration solutions, you, as a healthcare IT manager, need to thoroughly analyze the challenges currently faced by the industry. By doing so, you will arrive at the conclusion that implementing an effective IGA solution is important to ensure data security and regulatory compliance. You may disagree with the point! 

So to help you gain more clarity, let's take a real-time example: a large healthcare network operates across multiple locations, and each location has its own IT systems, user access policies, and data repositories, leading to fragmented identity and access management. This lack of centralized control can result in inconsistencies, making it challenging for IT teams to track and manage who has access to what effectively. Without an effective identity governance and administration solution, the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches increases.

Also, not to mention that healthcare organizations are under increasing pressure to adhere to the evolving regulatory security standards. Failing to meet these compliance requirements can lead to severe consequences, including hefty fines and damage to the organization's reputation.

So in such scenarios, a modern, automated IGA solution can be of great help. By deploying this solution, your IT teams can gain complete control over the access landscape, which helps manage and govern who has access to what efficiently. Also, with the help of such a solution, your IT team can conduct access reviews. By doing so, your organization will be audit-ready and secure the confidential data from potential breaches.

This was just a glimpse of the emerging need for an IGA solution. However, there is a lot more to explore. So let's first start with the challenges currently faced by the healthcare industry. 

What Are The Current Security Challenges In The Healthcare Sector?

In the given below section, we’ll be discussing in detail about current security challenges encountered by the healthcare industry.  

  • The Growing Attack Surface: Areas That Are Vulnerable To Risk¬†

In today's healthcare landscape, the transition from hard paper to electronic health records (EHRs) has been a game-changing solution for patient care. This transition has brought about a remarkable improvement in the quality and reliability of medical history management. 

However, this digital transformation has introduced new challenges, particularly in safeguarding sensitive patient data. This concern occurred when there was a drastic hike in the number of healthcare service providers, which increased the potential attack surface for cyber threats. 

As a result, the need for data technology and cybersecurity has become more critical. Furthermore, governments worldwide are trying to digitize health records for data safety but are not investing in appropriate cybersecurity solutions.

To bridge this gap and protect healthcare systems against potential breaches, you, as an IT manager, need to opt for an effective solution. Because securing patient data is not just a matter of compliance; it's a fundamental responsibility to ensure the trust and well-being of those we serve.

  • Patient's Lack of Adequate Knowledge

Usually, patients lack sufficient awareness of the potential data security risks associated with their Electronic Health Records (EHRs). They may not fully understand the importance of safeguarding medical privacy, so they end up not taking caution.

For instance, they store their data in unencrypted folders or sometimes send sensitive medical information via email. This provides an easy route for cybercriminals to access their records and exploit/hack other personal details.

  • Increasing Incidents of Ransomware and Phishing Attacks

As digital technology continues to evolve and expand, hackers are also getting advanced; they can infiltrate the whole device with advanced ransomware and phishing programs. They can also easily put harmful scripts on systems and steal login credentials. 

Furthermore, IoT devices such as insulin pumps, ventilators, and other medical instruments are also vulnerable network access points. Therefore, conducting thorough audits for software updates, patches, and necessary upgrades is crucial to enhance your organization's security measures.

  • Unregulated System Accessibility

Unrestricted access to the system can create a potential risk of unauthorized access. Because if such systems hold confidential patient data and end up in the hands of unauthorized personnel, the consequences can be severe. 

Further, this situation might lead to phishing attempts, enabling hackers to exploit more vulnerable network areas. Therefore, it is important to ensure that all devices containing sensitive patient data are securely stored in safe locations and restrict access to only authorized users.

  • Lack of comprehensive identity management

When healthcare organizations lack comprehensive identity and access management, the authentication and access control process is weaker. It becomes more difficult for IT teams to ensure the right people have appropriate access to data. 

For example, it's quite common for healthcare organizations to exchange large databases. But they often fail to control the data access and implement adaptive authentication methods, creating difficulty for their IT team to assign the right employee-authorized access. This weakness further leads to security issues and breaches.

Now that you're familiar with the challenges, let's explore how a modern IGA solution can effectively help your IT team mitigate these concerning issues. 

How A Modern IGA Solution Can Be A Game-Changing Solution For The Healthcare Industry? 

Below is a list of capabilities offered by modern IGA solutions that enables your IT team to seamlessly tackle the rising and concerning healthcare challenges.

  • Enables Your IT Team To Protect Patient Information

The primary benefit of a modern IGA solution in healthcare is cybersecurity. Medical facilities are often targeted by ransomware, phishing attacks, ransomware, and other malware because they fail to implement proper security measures. This is where a modern IGA solution takes the front seat.

For instance, for next-generation identity and access management in healthcare, organizations can take advantage of multi-factor authentication (MFA). By implementing this multiple-layer authentication method, your organization can secure sensitive patient’s data from potential security breaches.

Likewise, single sign-on (SSO) can address the challenge of multiple login points by providing patients with a single set of credentials to access multiple accounts. This simplifies the authentication process and also enhances user convenience.

  • Allows Your IT Team To Seamlessly Governing & Securing Access¬†

A modern IGA solution enables your IT team to effectively control, manage, and govern the identities of healthcare staff, including their roles and responsibilities within the healthcare system. 

Further, it offers features to keep a tab on hospital employees' identities in one centralized place, making it easier to add new staff, remove or revoke access from old ones, manage users, and monitor their access activities/patterns. This further helps in ensuring the safety of patient’s data.

For example, for physicians, IGA brings a significant advantage. Instead of frequently logging in and out of different software throughout the day, they can use a single sign-on method. This means they only need to log in once, and they can access everything they need without wasting time on repeated logins.

  • Focuses On Prioritizing Compliance To Ensure Regulatory Adherence

When healthcare organizations deploy a modern IGA solution, it becomes easier for their IT team to focus on protecting patient privacy and adhering to regulatory requirements. 

Now let's see which compliance requirements you are to be concerned about as a healthcare organization. 

Some key regulations that have set the bar higher for protecting both physical and administrative security include:

  • HIPAA: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is an established regulation that ensures best practices in safeguarding patient data through administrative, physical, and technical security measures.

  • EPCS: Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) is a more recent industry-specific regulation that requires two-factor authentication and identity verification of providers, among other measures.

  • CCPA: The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a state-level regulation requiring institutions to notify patients before collecting their personal data. Patients can opt out, access, and delete their data from the hospital's database.

So, in brief, an effective IGA offers you the perfect balance by meeting security requirements and providing the necessary access control to comply with international/industrial regulations.

  • Helps Your IT Enhance Patient Experience

By implementing an IGA solution in your healthcare organization, your IT/support team can potentially enhance your patient's overall experience. How does it make that possible?

  • It automates the assigning and revoking privileges process as required¬†

  • Facilitates integrated healthcare delivery for improved collaboration.

  • Modernizes communication through identity federation, enabling seamless interactions.

  • Enhances identity verification with MFA to protect patient data from hackers.

By doing so, your team can not only improve patient experience but also ensure patient data remains out of hackers' reach.

  • Provides Your IT team With a Centralized Database BaseCentralizing system audits

IGA solutions not only help prevent unauthorized access but also offer ways to detect potential security issues. These solutions use central databases to verify transactions, access requests, and other activities.

With the help of unified logging and reporting tools, security departments/ IT/GRC teams can conduct system audits and documentation effectively. 

Furthermore, real-time inspections enable medical facilities to comply with the law, escaping prosecution and fines. This ensures a safer and legally compliant environment for healthcare organizations.

Now that you know the benefits of implementing an IGA solution in your healthcare organization, it's also worth considering opting for an effective one for your organization. Though various options are available in the market, one solution that stands out is - Zluri. Zluri is a modern autonomous and automated IGA platform that enables your IT team to streamline the identity and access management process effectively and efficiently. How does it do that? Here's a quick read-through. 

How Zluri Helps In Governing User’s Identity And Access? 

With rapid technological advancements, healthcare organizations face challenges in safeguarding patient data from advanced hackers. IT teams often rely on outdated solutions, hindering them from effectively managing user(healthcare employees) access to patient data and creating vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to breach security.

But not with Zluri IGA. To address these concerns, Zluri steps in by offering your IT team advanced features that are designed to take your patient’s data security to the next level. What are these features? These functionalities include a data discovery engine, access review, auto-remediation, and more. With the help of these features, your IT team can ensure the right users have the right access to the patient data with the right level of permission when needed. 

To help you understand better, we’ll discuss each feature in detail. By doing so, you will know how Zluri IGA works and why it serves as the ultimate solution for identity and access management related challenges.

  • Discover Who Has Access To Patient Data Within The Organization With Zluri‚Äôs Data Discovery Engine¬†

Generally, IT teams rely on outdated manual methods or inefficient solutions due to which they struggle to gain visibility into which user (healthcare staff) has access to critical patient data and are unable to gather accurate insights. So what Zluri does is, it offers your IT team a data discovery engine, which helps your IT team to gain complete visibility into user access data present within your healthcare organizations.

In order to gather these insights Zluri's data engine utilizes five discovery methods: SSO or IDP, finance systems, direct integrations, browser extensions (optional), and desktop agents (optional). With the help of these methods, your IT team can gain in-depth visibility into user access data. Further, they can easily identify which users have access to sensitive patient data, their department and position, their access permissions, last active status, and more.

Armed With such detailed insights, your IT team can efficiently monitor the entire access management process.

Zluri discovery engine
  • Seamless Governance Access With Zluri‚Äôs Access Certification¬†

Regular audits play a crucial role for IT teams to ensure no lurking access is overlooked and to maintain effective user permissions management. However, conducting access reviews manually using spreadsheets and JSONs can be inefficient and consume valuable time and effort, leading to inaccuracies in reports.

To address these challenges, Zluri streamlines the access review process through its access reviewing capabilities. With Zluri's unified access review feature, your IT team can easily identify which users( healthcare staff) have access to patient data. This valuable insight is gathered from Zluri's access directory, where all user access-related data is stored in one centralized location.

Also, to facilitate smooth operations, Zluri's activity and alerts feature provides real-time information about users' recent activities and notifies IT teams about new logins. These insights enable reviewers to make swift and informed decisions during access reviews, ensuring that the right user has the authorized access to patient data. This future helps in safeguarding patient data from potential security breaches. 

That's not all, to further simplify the access review process, Zluri automates the entire access review process. All your IT team needs to do is simply go to Zluri's IGA interface, create a certification, select the user for review, and rest the reviewers will review and update you about the compilation via email. 

By automating this process you can yield 10 times better results compared to manual methods, saving your IT team's efforts by 70%.

Once you have acquired contextual data through Zluri's unified access feature, your IT team can proceed to create access rules based on these insights. 

Next comes the schedule certification feature, enabling you to create certifications based on the gathered information. This helps your IT team to take appropriate actions based on the insights obtained. For example, your team can use data like last login, user status (active or inactive), and more to make informed decisions during the review process, determining whether users can continue with existing access to patient data or require modifications.

Additionally, after successfully creating access certification, if any user activity deviates from the set access policies, Zluri initiates auto-remediation actions, such as it runs a deprovisioning playbook to revoke patient data access if users' access does not meet the access criteria or modify access with the reviewer's intervention. 

Note: For critical data, Zluri enables manual review and remediation of access to ensure extra scrutiny and control.

Not only that, with the help of Zluri, healthcare organizations can be audit ready by complying with HIPAA and other regulatory standards, escaping prosecution and fines. Ensuring a safer and legally compliant environment for healthcare organizations.

With Zluri's context-rich information, your team can confidently take actions that align with your access management policies. It's an effective way to ensure the only authorized users should have access to critical patient data, while maintaining data security and adhering to compliance requirements. 

Zluri is not restricted to these only, It offers additional capabilities like integration, reporting, and authentication features. Zluri’s integration features are quite beneficial at the time of gathering access data. Though Zluri already has data within its platform, but integration allows it to gather even more valuable insights. Leveraging these integrations, further enhances your access review process and strengthens the organization's overall security posture.

Additionally, Zluri generates reports that are commonly associated with audit logs or audit trails. These audit reports serve as valuable documentation to share with auditors or keep as a reference for future reviews. And, audit trails act as roadmaps, showcasing the changes made during previous reviews.

Apart from that, Zluri also adds an additional layer of security by implementing authentication methods, including multi-factor authentication (MFA), in which users (healthcare staff) have to verify their identity in multiple ways before they gain access to patient data.

Like along with passwords, users might be asked to enter a code sent to their email, scan a fingerprint, or answer a secret question. This helps ensure a higher level of protection by adding an extra layer of security.

Also, Zluri offers single sign-on (SSO), enabling users to access patient data with a single set of credentials. By reducing password fatigue, this feature enhances user experience and reduces the risk of security breaches and chances of unauthorized access.

Now that you're aware of how Zluri can be the perfect IGA solution to mitigate the cornering identity and access management challenges. So why wait any longer? Book a demo now and witness how with Zluri, your IT team can govern, manage, and control user access by ensuring that users have the right access aligned with their roles and responsibilities, mitigating potential security risk


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Mastering SaaS Vendor Management: A Comprehensive Guide-2023

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In this post, you'll learn about shadow IT due to SaaS apps. You'll also learn the most common types of shadow apps categories, shadow IT risks, and shadow IT benefits.

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SaaS Sprawl - The Ultimate Guide

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