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Jul 12 2011   7:51AM GMT

Using single sign-on technology to transform health care

Posted by: Jenny Laurello
Data security, EHR functionality, Single sign-on

By David Ting, CTO, Imprivata

The HITECH Act is radically altering the United States health care landscape, forever changing the way clinician’s access, share and interact with patient information. At the forefront of this shift is the increasing adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs), now a necessity for hospitals and health care providers. In 2010, HIMSS Analytics certified more than 80 hospitals as Stage 6 of the EMR Adoption Model, almost double the total in 2009.

With the introduction of EMRs, clinicians are now burdened by an overabundance of passwords and logins for the suite of applications with patient data. This has a serious effect on their workflow and takes meaningful time away from patients.  A recent study from The Ponemon Institute, which polled a total of 404 individuals working in health care organizations, found that the average clinician spends 122 hours a year, or three weeks, just trying to access various EMR applications. The study also found that clinicians used an average of 5.7-6.6 passwords that needed to be entered to login to critical applications. This survey reinforces that it is imperative for healthcare organizations to implement single sign-on alongside their EMR systems in order to function efficiently.

Single sign-on (SSO) removes the burden of having to remember multiple passwords, enables authenticated access to multiple EMRs , reduces IT helpdesk calls and streamlines user productivity  — all through a simple tap of a badge or swipe of a finger.   The benefits from both a workflow and security perspective are readily apparent:

  • Enhanced physician productivity, yielding reduced levels of frustration
  • Reduced password administration translating into cost and time savings
  • Stronger password policies, ensuring protection of critical patient data
  • Better visibility into specific user access to activities across disparate applications

The Ponemon Institute study found that hospitals implementing a SSO technology within their health care systems saved their clinicians 8 to 15 minutes per day depending on the solution utilized. Over a year this translates to 103-191 hours of not having to type in a username and an application password for every patient. SSO helps clinicians realize the full benefits of EMR while also streamlining access and protecting sensitive information.

Most importantly, the study found that health care systems have the potential to save more than $2 million annually with SSO solutions due to increased efficiency and time savings for their highly paid health care professionals.  These results show a significant opportunity for health care systems to increase physician workflow, generate new capital and, ultimately, improve the overall quality of care.

With the legislative mandates and the increasingly digital nature of health care, there is a significant need for SSO technology within the industry. The technology provides the added benefits of generating significant cost and time saving, which will ultimately improve the quality of care by enabling clinicians to spend more time on patients, and less time on passwords.

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